The internal lithium ion rechargeable battery lasts up to 2 hours, which is pretty good, but in testing it fell about 20 minutes shy of this mark. Since it's sealed in the body you can't swap it with a fresh battery and it takes about 3 hours to recharge from dead via USB. A $25 power adapter is available that promises to reduce that time to 2 hours.
Speaking of extras, all that's in the box with the device is a wrist strap and a microfiber pouch for storing the device. If you want to take advantage of the Mini-HDMI output or need to connect to a hard-to-reach USB port, you'll need to pony up for the cables; Flip Video will be happy to sell you either or both for $25 each, though we recommend getting them elsewhere for less.
Shooting options are nonexistent as again, the SlideHD is meant to be a simple point-and-shoot minicamcorder. The only real option is for a multistep 2x digital zoom, which really isn't good for much. Once more, price is the biggest issue here because the competition offers more options for less money. On the other hand, Flip Video continues to be the leader in easily sharing your video once it's shot.
Flip out the USB connector and plug it into your Windows (Windows XP SP2 or later) or OS X (10.5 or later) computer and up pops FlipShare, the company's sharing software. Once launched, you can browse, watch, organize, and save videos; edit and create movies with your clips adding music and titles if you want; easily grab a still image from video; and upload to Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. Videos can be sent by e-mail (at a reduced resolution) or stuck into a greeting card. You can also upload to a personal Flip Channel and create a list of people you want to share your videos with. When you upload a video, people on your list will be alerted by e-mail that a new video has been posted. Flip also has an iPhone app that allows you or your friends and family to access those video remotely from an iPhone or iPod Touch. Of course the 3-inch screen is figured into the sharing experience, too.
Once you've externally saved movies you've shot, you can then use the FlipShare software to reformat them to a smaller size and put them back on the device--all with a couple clicks. This is how you're able to shoot and store up to 4 hours of HD video or save up to 12 hours of Space Saver video on the device. You can also use your storage for videos that others have shared with you through their Flip Channels.
Though you won't mistake the video for that of a full-fledged HD camcorder, we were once again fairly impressed with the clip quality produced by this little cam: reasonably sharp, with accurate, vibrant colors and generally smooth motion. Low-light video is noisy, but that's to be expected and all in all, it's not bad for its size.
The stereo sound was also decent, but you'll still need to be close to your subject and not have too much extraneous noise.
In the end, we're not sold on the Flip Video SlideHD. The three things we like most about Flip's devices are present: dead-simple operation, straightforward sharing, and decent results. But on the whole, the SlideHD comes across as a weak attempt to innovate a borderline commoditized product. The screen gives people one more way to experience Flip movies, we get that. But it's expensive and that's enough to keep most people from buying it. Add on its other potential issues like occasionally finicky touch-screen controls, a bulky body, lack of shooting options, and the possible need to buy extras like cables and a charger, and the package is just a really tough sell.
Find out more about how we test camcorders.