Flip Video's gloriously simple point-and-shoot philosophy now has another earthly manifestation -- the second generation of the high-definition MinoHD mini camcorder. Pull the MinoHD from your pocket, hit the big red button and record to your heart's content. It's as simple as that. Then you can plug it straight into your computer without worrying about cables. The new MinoHD dresses this experience in a pretty new shell, but are the changes all style and no substance?
The second-gen MinoHD is available now for around £180.
The new MinoHD is the same size as the previous version, with all the bits in the same place, but the case has been sprinkled with some serious pixie dust. It takes its cues from the first-generation iPhone, with curved corners, a nifty silver back, and a sleeker overall look.
The plastic that was prone to fingerprint smears is replaced by metal that is slightly less of a smudge magnet, and the MinoHD looks slicker and feels more solid as a result. The screen now measures 51mm (2 inches) from corner to corner, compared to 38mm (1.5 inches) previously, and the signature flip-out USB arm, which transfers footage and charges the unit, is one streamlined element.
The button layout remains the same: there's a big red button to record, then four softly indented buttons to adjust the volume, delete clips or move through menus. Each button requires the merest brush of a thumb, as they're touch-sensitive. The delete button can be locked so you don't inadvertently wipe your video.
The biggest physical change is the mini-HDMI socket on the bottom of the MinoHD. Annoyingly, unlike many camcorders, such as the similarly sized Kodak Zi8, the Mino doesn't come with an HDMI cable.
Inside, the memory has been bumped up to 8GB -- enough to store two hours of footage. Sound is now also in stereo, which makes a massive difference, although recordings are susceptible to wind noise.
Call that hi-def?
We're used to being pleasantly surprised by the quality of footage from Flip Video's camcorders, and the MinoHD doesn't disappoint. Colour is rich and accurate, with the MinoHD doing a good job of working out the white balance in different shooting environments.
But, while the aesthetic improvements and increased memory are all very well, a bump in resolution would have been a really welcome change. It's not that 720p video at 30 frames per second isn't good -- it's just that 1080p is better. Both the Zi8 and the Sony Bloggie range offer 1080p video.
If you like having plenty of adjustable options, the second-generation Flip Video MinoHD won't be for you. For everyone else, it'll prove a straightforward and pocket-friendly alternative to shooting shonky video on a camera phone or investing in a proper HD camcorder.
Edited by Charles Kloet and Nick Hide