There's been a lot of renewed media interest of late in Pure Digital's Flip Video (aka, The Flip), the super-simple, low-res, flash-based video recorder (with flip-out USB dongle) that has taken the camcorder industry by storm in the year since it was launched. David Pogue reviewed the lastest version a couple of weeks ago, and CNET TV's Crave video featured it last week. The newest edition, the Flip Ultra, hit the streets last September and comes in 1GB ($149.99) and 2GB ($179.99) versions, which hold up to 30 and 60 minutes respectively of "high-quality" video (Pogue describes it as "not as sharp as a tape camcorder or even digital still cameras, but far superior to cell phone video" and with low-light abilities that "trump even $1,000 camcorders"). The best-selling camcorder on Amazon for at least six months now, the Flip Ultra is simplicity defined, and its success is a tribute to the YouTube generation where higher resolution isn't always better. Pogue calls the gadget's 640x480 pixels, 30 frames per second, "TV resolution" but that's only if you have a standard definition TV like my Trinitron that everyone (including the Verizon FiOS installation guy) makes fun of.
For those of you HDTV snobs (yes, that's you, FiOS guy) out there, you'll be more interested in the other camcorder that was in the news last week: The Sony Handycam HDR-TG1, which records 1920x1080 high-def video onto MemoryStick ProDuo flash memory cards--a 4GB card is included in the whopping $900 price tag (yes, you can buy enough Flip Ultras to feed a large family for that kind of cash). Actually somewhat similar in size to the Flip (4.7x1.3x2.5 inches, vs. the Flip's 4.17x2.16x1.25 inches), the HDR-TG1's $900 will buy you HD video, Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound (albeit from a built-in zoom mic), face detection, 10x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch flip out touch-screen, and other fancy features. The Flip? Um, well, it has a 1.5-inch fixed LCD and relatively useless 2x digital zoom, but the best features (besides the flip-out USB dongle) are of course its simplicity and low price (which includes a carrying pouch--a little nicety that Sony has the audacity to charge extra for on a $900 product).
So which one of these pocketable camcorders is for me? You only have to take one gander at my 27-inch CRT setup to know.