Our friend Dave Zatz’s discovery was the real deal: Cisco division Pure Digital has released FlipShare TV, a $150 box designed to let you watch videos shot with Flip videocams on your TV. It’s the Flip brand’s first foray into products beyond the wildly popular cameras, and therefore a hint of where the company may go in an era in which more and more people shoot their video with a phone or a still camera rather than a dedicated video device.
The Wall Street Journal’s Katherine Boehret has reviewed the FlipShare, and her take is lukewarm at best. The basic idea sounds tantalizing: It lets you watch not only videos on a computer in your house via a wireless connection, but also ones which friends have decided to share with you. But the FlipShare isn’t an autonomous resident of your home network: It connects via a computer in your home that has a USB key plugged in, and the computer must be turned on and running Flip’s software. It’s also meant only for viewing video captured with Flip cameras. And while you can get alerts of new video shared by friends via e-mail, text message, or Facebook, the FlipShare box itself has no way of notifying you of new videos to watch.
Flip’s made its name not by making the most powerful video products, but with ones that are exceptionally simple to set up, use, and enjoy. I wouldn’t expect it to come out with a Popcorn Hour-like box aimed at video nerds. It does seem, however, that we’re rapidly reaching the end of the era of TV boxes which do only one thing –and that a box for sharing Flip video might also provide access to non-Flip clips. (YouTube, anyone?)
I’d also love to think that we’ll see features similar to the FlipShare’s capabilities show up on boxes that some of us already have attached to our TVs, such as TiVos and Rokus.