Flip UltraI bought a Flip Ultra today. Lots of positives and negatives about this little camera, and limitations that need to be understood to get the best performance out of it.


  • AA batteries
  • 2 GB internal memory for 60 minutes of record time
  • Firmware updates
  • Light
  • Portable
  • Stupid simple


  • Not going to sub for a high quality camcorder any time soon
  • Very susceptible to shake without tripod
  • No options for expandability
  • Fixed-length lens (yes, there’s a digital zoom, which is a joke)

Now, I own a lot of gear. When I need to upgrade to quality video, I break out my MiniDV camera because nothing Flash-based captures video with the same quality as tape that I’ve found yet.

When I want a balance of portability and optics, I’ll use my Sanyo Xacti.

When I want to record a lot of video at conferences, this is the camera I’m going to use.

There is one and only one reason I bought a Flip Ultra:

The Flip Ultra uses AA batteries.

When I’m at conferences, rarely do sessions last more than 60 minutes, so the Flip’s built in memory limitation isn’t a big deal.

What is a big deal is that this little camera takes AA batteries. Rare is it when I don’t have a pile of 12 or so with me at any given time. Between sessions, I can dump the memory to my MacBook Pro and swap out batteries.

If I use the MiniDV camera, I have to change tapes and use the AC adapter, which is a huge stumbling hazard for everyone around me.

If I use the Xacti, I have to carry the AC charger with me and recharge the battery (and its two spares) throughout the day, which is a pain in the butt.

If I use the Flip, I just swap out AAs and recharge everything in the hotel room overnight.

The Flip is a single-use camera for me – I bought it specifically for use at conferences. I’m not going to film the next major motion picture with it, and I wholly acknowledge that it isn’t intended for that use at all. It will allow me, however, to capture lots of “good enough” video at conferences I go to, with a minimum of hassle when it comes to power and memory.

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