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Some camcorders are so complicated to operate they should come with a warning label — “Caution: Professional Development Required.” But not the Flip SlideHD.
Since it first hit the market in September 2007, the Flip Video brand of camcorders has focused primarily on lightweight, easy-to-master video recording and sharing. With the release last year of the Flip SlideHD, it seems that Cisco Systems, which acquired Flip Video’s maker nearly two years ago, is aiming to simplify and perfect the video-viewing experience as well.
Although the SlideHD is neither the first nor the slimmest camcorder in the Flip family to shoot 720p high-definition video, it does leave both the Flip MinoHD and the Flip UltraHD in the dust when it comes to memory and screen size. With 16 gigabytes of storage capacity, the SlideHD shoots up to four hours of video and stores up to 12 hours of compressed user videos and other content. Its weight (5.9 ounces) and size (roughly 4 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch) also make it very portable.
A push of the thumb releases the viewing screen, which pops up from its position atop the SlideHD’s base to a 45-degree angle. Once elevated, a thin, capacitive “slide strip” on the base makes it easy to scroll from video to video with a simple swipe of the finger. The 3-inch-wide transflective, resistive touchscreen display is large enough for two people to view comfortably, even in bright sunlight.
The SlideHD records and plays back high-definition 1280x720 video at 30 frames per second. The audio is enhanced by Advanced Audio Coding, a compression and encoding technique for digital audio files that delivers higher-quality sound. With a power-up time of less than four seconds, the SlideHD is ready to roll at a moment’s notice. Its simplicity also is notable: The big, red Record button practically screams “Press Me,” and two indicator lights on the front alert people that they’re being filmed.
For viewing parties, simply connect the device to a high-definition TV or LCD projector using an HDMI cable.
Each time the SlideHD is connected to a PC or Mac via its spring-loaded USB arm, the camcorder automatically launches FlipShare, a preloaded media management software. Transferring videos is seamless. The internal battery handles two hours of recording once charged and recharges in three hours when the device is connected to any computer with a USB port.
Trimming, adding text or music, and even assembling multiple clips into a sequence is intuitive. Both my computer-savvy and technophobic colleagues have proudly shown me their own, fully edited Flip-recorded videos and then uploaded them to popular video-sharing sites.
Although a microphone input jack would be a welcome feature, the SlideHD’s built-in, omnidirectional microphone is no slouch. I recorded subjects ranging from quiet talkers to loud music and was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the audio the SlideHD delivered.
Because the SlideHD lacks image stabilization, I would recommend a tripod for recording anything lasting longer than a few minutes.