By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 1:02 pm
A new high-end $229.99 version of the Flip MinoHD pocket camcorder is out–it’s got 8GB of memory (up from 4GB), a bigger screen and an HDMI port. It’s also got a new aluminum case which the Flip folks say makes this “the world’s sleekest HD camcorder” and which Gizmodo raves over–although oddly enough, the official specs seem to say that the new version is a tad chunkier than the old one. (The marketing materials refer to “soft, rounded edges”–maybe they give the new Mino, which I haven’t seen in person, a svelter feel than its predecessor.)
The new Mino sounds cool, and the whole Flip line’s image quality for the price, industrial design, clever features (like the pop-out USB connector), and general commitment to usability are commendable. You gotta think that the clock is ticking on the whole product category, though–between phones with video camera capability and ever-better video from still cameras and video built into still other devices, the world isn’t going to need dedicated low-end video cameras forever. I don’t expect Flips to go away immediately–for one thing, even the standard definition ones have much better image quality than my iPhone 3GS–but I’d love to know what Cisco has in the works that might make the $590 million it spent to buy the Flip into a smart investment rather than the technological equivalent of buying a gallon of milk even though its expiration date is about to come.