Pure Digital's second-gen Flip MinoHD camcorder slims, tones video [review]

Pure Digital had a runaway hit with its first Flip MinoHD. The second version refines the formula without changing what makes it work.

Pure Digital had a runaway hit with its first Flip MinoHD. The second version refines the formula without changing what makes it work.

I remember when I first used a Pure Digital Flip camcorder. It was a novelty item, a bit like a toy but vital in its simplicity: point, shoot, pocket.

That three-step formula remains intact with the second-generation MinoHD, which preserves the core look and function of the device and refreshes it to seem less "toy" and more "equipment."

(Not to say Pure Digital, owned by Cisco, doesn't like how easy it is to distribute such devices among the family. They're inexpensive, simple and lately, colorful.)

As expected, the new Flip MinoHD inherits specifications from its more fully-featured, heftier brother, the UltraHD: 8GB of storage and a two-inch 960x240 anti-glare screen, along with an HDMI output and better audio.

The good news is that the MinoHD keeps its slim profile, newly redesigned with touch buttons that are no longer separate parts but a seamless part of the device's back panel.

In use, I found the Flip MinoHD to be even more satisfying than the UltraHD, thanks to its slimmer profile. It's just so easy to slip this thing into a shirt or back pocket, whereas the thicker, rubberized UltraHD was a bit harder to do so.

With the specification bump, that also means you're not taking as much of a hit to video quality. As with the UltraHD, the second-gen MinoHD shoots wonderful video and makes it easy to upload directly to the Web. The digital zoom remains iffy, and it's a little harder to hold a lighter, thinner device still -- but nevertheless, it remains the easiest, quickest way to record video.

The redesigned exterior pushes the Mino upscale a bit. Instead of the rubber and chrome of the UltraHD, the MinoHD sports a rounded champagne satin finish that gives it a classy look (the lights behind the vent on the front are a nice touch).

The glossy plastic back is still a fingerprint magnet, however, and the new touch buttons weren't as responsive as I would have hoped, though they're better for keeping the camera still.

The Mino's spring-loaded USB arm is much better placed on the top than the side like the UltraHD, and finally had a click-to-close feature -- absent and a minor irritant on its older brother.

The only trouble I had was trying to use the camcorder with my docked laptop, which is on an angle and raised from the desk. I was concerned that I was putting too much pressure on the Flip or my USB port when trying to upload content.

The software, while easier to use with its new version, could use a better, more simplified user interface. Some of the essential tasks you want to perform are displayed as buttons in a strip at the bottom, instead of front-and-center when you first load the software (which comes straight from the device itself).

Other than these minor things, it's hard to argue with the MinoHD's $229 asking price -- though I would love to see them even cheaper. They're the perfect stocking stuffer as far as I'm concerned, and I continue to recommend them for their ease of use and price.


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