Although it was recently outed by B&H, Wednesday marks the official unveiling of Pure Digital's Flip Video Mino, the latest camcorder from one of the leaders of the low-res, straight-to-Web capture pack. Thinner and smaller than its popular sibling, the Flip Video Ultra, the Mino crams similar technology into a more compact, more attractive package that can fit into a pants pocket.
Most of the Mino is about redesign. The USB connector now flips straight up, rather than to the side, for an overall more compact footprint that should fit better in a crowded USB environment. Though it has a slightly smaller LCD display--1.4 inches compared with 1.5 inches--the back navigation controls look a mite more sophisticated than before. Pure Digital has also punted the replaceable battery in favor of a nonremovable lithium ion model. The company claims you can shoot for four hours on a charge.
Like the 60-minute version of the Ultra, the Mino comes equipped with 2GB of memory, capable of storing 60 minutes of its VGA-resolution video. The company has moved up to a later generation image-processing architecture. So in theory the Mino should provide a bit better image quality, and the company says that the camcorder includes an updated--more sensitive--microphone with improved signal processing. And, of course, it comes with in-camera software that provides the plug-in-and-upload simplicity which endears these camcorders to sharers on sites like YouTube and MySpace; the latter is a new partner for the company. In addition, the Mino now supports direct operation on a Mac, without requiring software installation. It also provides a TV-out connector for larger-scale enjoyment.
The company stresses that the Mino is not intended to replace the Ultra--it's a "social accessory for the YouTube/MySpace/Facebook generation to communicate and express themselves." A PR rep quotes market research saying this magic demographic wants it "thinner to fit in their pocket and that they would prefer rechargeable batteries (like an iPod) and a sleeker/cooler design."
Maybe I'm too old to understand why everyone wouldn't want a smaller, sleeker, and more functional--albeit slightly more expensive--version of the same product, regardless of their need to accessorize their social life.
The Mino is slated to ship via selected online and brick-and-mortar retailers, including Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and directly from the company's TheFlip.com, and will go into wider distribution this fall. It costs $179.99.
Pure Digital also announced a make-your-own-DVD service; you upload up to an hour's worth of video, and they burn a DVD and distribute it to your family and friends. That will run you $19.99 a pop. The company also claims you can "keep your videos archived forever," but remember that "forever" doesn't mean the same thing to companies as it does to people. Can you say MSN Music?