Flip Ultra (second gen) review: Flip Ultra (second gen)

For the type of audience these budget camcorders are targeted at, having few choices and menus to toggle through is a good thing. It's also good that Flip's software comes in both Windows and Mac versions--both systems are supported. That software offers basic editing features, but you can always import your video into another video-editing package, including Apple's iMovie.

As for video quality, the Ultra produces decent video for a low-resolution model. At small sizes (read: not blown up full screen on your computer display), the video looks pretty sharp, colors are well saturated, low-light performance is decent, and sound is loud enough. For best results, you do have to keep the device very steady while shooting.

There isn't a big difference between the video quality on this model and the original Ultra, but it is slightly better. We should note that this model has the same optics and image sensor as the Mino, but Flip has managed to refine the video processing via software to improve the image quality.

Be forewarned that while we're praising the video quality, it's still not great--and blown up to larger sizes it looks fairly soft and pretty noisy. But for shooting Web-based video, it's relatively decent. (For a comparison of the various Flip models, the company provides a comparison chart.)

The big question for a lot of people is whether to step up to the more expensive UltraHD or save some dough and go with this model. If you can afford it, you should probably opt for the UltraHD--or MinoHD, if you want a smaller camcorder. The higher resolution gives you more flexibility to scale the video to larger sizes. Ultimately, what will make this camcorder compelling is its price. If the street price hits around $120 or less, it starts make sense as a purchase.

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