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Today's Show:
Just when you might think that you have enough gadgets, you come across a new one that reminds you: you can never have enough cool stuff. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the "world's smallest HD camcorder," the Flip Video Mino HD. Not only was it a lot of fun to play with, it was very useful and extremely convenient. If you'd like to record some Holiday memories this year in true 720p high definition, or you need to find a cool, unique gift for the techie who has everything, the Mino HD is a sure hit.

Flip Video Mino HD
(Buy at the HT Guys Store, $206)

The first thing you notice when you open the Mino HD is how small it is. It measures 3.94" x 1.97" x 0.63" (10 x 5 x 1.6 cm) and weighs only 3.3 ounces. Easily smaller than an iPod or PDA, in fact smaller than most cell phones and digital still cameras, the Mino HD is incredibly portable. Also included in the box are a wrist strap, a carry case and an a/v cable (composite video and stereo audio.

Using the Mino is a snap. If recharges via USB, so you plug it into your computer for three hours and it's all set to go. When you're ready to capture some video you simply turn it on and hit the big red record button. While recording you can zoom in and zoom out. After recording a clip, you can watch it back with full volume control and even delete it immediately if it didn't turn out like you'd hoped.

When you're done shooting all the video you need, all you have to do is plug it back into the computer and start working with the clips. The Mino HD includes a simple video application right on the camera, so you can watch, save, edit, email, post to the web - just about anything - without installing a single program. The application, called FlipShare, is very basic, but it does enough to allow a novice user to do the essentials. It runs on both Windows and Mac OS, so everyone should be happy.

FlipShare features:
  • Video and save clips recorded on the Mino HD
  • Cut pieces of clips out with a very simple interface
  • Tie videos together to make movies, including optional background music
  • Email video clips to friends and family
  • Email video greeting cards
  • Post videos directly to the Internet, with support for AOL Video, myspace and YouTube
  • Prepare videos to be burned to DVD

The Mino HD has 4 GB of built in memory that can record up to 60 minutes of footage. The memory isn't expandable, so you need to get everything recorded in an hour. It records in 720p, 1280 x 720, 16:9 widescreen at 30 fps. The video actually looks really good. It is stored as an MPEG4 file using H.264 and AAC audio. The camera doesn't have image stabilization, so you have to stay pretty still if you want the image to look as good as possible. The audio sounds good when you're close to the sound source or if the source is really loud. The further away the source is, the worse it becomes.

When we briefly mentioned the Mino HD on Episode 335 and reported that it didn't have direct video output capabilities. We were wrong. It does have direct video output, but only in standard definition. You can plug the composite video cable directly into the Mino HD and play your videos back on any TV. The quality will be better if you burn them to DVD, though.

Our Mino HD happens to be black, and we think it's pretty cool looking. As a consumer, though, if you get yours through the Flip Video Store, you can completely customize the look of the camcorder. You can choose from pre-designed patterns and images from the design gallery, upload your own image and even use a pattern generator to create your own, custom, one of a kind Mino HD that shows your unique personality. The custom designs don't cost any more than the standard black one we have.

Overall the Mino HD is awesome. While it won't replace a true camcorder, and it isn't going to get you into the wedding video business, it is extremely portable and very easy to use. Imagine how many more video clips you would have and how many more memories would be preserved in high definition if your camcorder fit in your pocket easier than your cell phone. It's so easy to take with you, the possibilities just completely unfold. In the short time we had it, we took video of events we never would have recorded before because of the hassle associated with it. The Mino really is is hassle-free HD.

Posted by The HT Guys, December 16, 2008 12:27 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.