As my interest in SLR grew, my interest in camcorders waned correspondingly. I thought I would never take a serious look at another camcorder again. However, A few days ago the Flip Mino HD camcorder accidentally caught my eye as I was surfing the internet. Pure Digital introduced the Flip Mino in June 2008, succeeded by the MinoHD, and more recently, the UltraHD (rrp US$199). With high definition and H.64 compression the norm these days, video quality has become much more acceptable. The camera is low cost, simple to operate, records on Flash memory, and has a convenient USB connector that flips out when needed. The camera looks like a mobile phone and is held like one when recording. It is therefore very un-intrusive when used in public places. (People become very sensitive when they have a heavy duty SLR or big video cameras pointed at them Not so with a camera phone.)
The Flip form factor must be very successful, as evidenced by heavy weight challengers introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas right now. They are:
Sony's Bloggie PM5 (rrp US$170)
Kodak's Playsport (rrp US$149)
Almost as small, but sporting a flip-out LCD screen rather than a flip-out USB connector, are some very enticing new models, such as:
Sony's MHS-CM5 (rrp US$200)
Sanyo's Xacti VPC-CS1 (rrp US$399).
(Older models (such as from Aiptek) have been around for a long time but their video quality precludes them from serious users.)