Saturday, July 12, 2008

Flip Camcorder First Impressions

As I mentioned, my wife and I were recent given a Flip Mino as a present. It deserves a review.

Part One: The Camcorder

We love it. It does everything it claims to and is easy to use. The microphone is of higher quality than the only current competitor in the ultra-small camcorder market; the video resolution is smaller but adequate for our needs. The size and shape are convenient for holding it or carrying it in pocket. The lens seems to be of respectable quality for the

This is a wonderful camcorder for parents or an elementary classroom. It is certainly nowhere near professional quality in visual or audio recording and a more expensive camcorder would be desirable for recording a concert or other performance.

Part Two: The Desktop Software

We cannot believe how absurd it is. Yes, it barely manages to do everything it claims. But the problems are almost too numerous to list.
  • Videos cannot be sorted by name or date (only by date)
  • Videos lack a system property tag for the creation date (if you edit it then the edit date becomes the file creation date; if you edit and rename if you have lost track of the creation date!)
  • Videos can only be renamed with a very short name (a date uses most of the allowed characters)
  • Videos must be renamed before saving (there is no "Save as...")
  • When editing a video, renaming it causes other changes made so far to be reset
  • There is no obvious way to go back from the editor to the thumbnail list of videos (there is a very easy way, but it is not obvious)
  • There is no way to refresh the list of videos in a folder if you manually renamed or added any, aside for quitting and restarting
  • There is no obvious way to restart the program after you quit (the is an easy way, but it is not obvious)
  • The desktop software does not have its own way to do a system "Safely remove hardware..." or "Eject..."
  • There is no Preferences to set which folders are used
  • There is no Preferences to set how much processor priority is used
  • The software uses 20% of my CPU just to be open!
  • The video quality conversion process cannot be paused
  • The video quality conversion process has a progress bar but does not estimate time remaining
  • There are two video quality conversion options: "save for email" and "export for upload to video sharing site", but the user is not told these convert to identical formats
  • There are so many pop-up windows asking me to click "okay" that the software seems created for a gaming console rather than a PC
Is the Flip company is a bunch of capable hardware manufacturers who contracted with amateur programmers to create the desktop software?

No comments: