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Don't buy a Flip--for now

A less-than-encouraging note from Cisco has me not recommending these minicamcorders.

Buy a Flip at your own risk. Sarah Tew/CNET

Editors' note (April 26, 2011): Since this post, Cisco has announced it will continue to support Flip devices within the terms of the company's one-year warranty. Technical support for both the video cameras and the FlipShare software and sharing services will be available until December 31, 2013. Sharing services will also end on this date. As long as they're still available on the market, you may want to consider buying one and if not, here are some alternatives.

When Cisco closed its Flip business last week, I was treating it just like any other product that gets discontinued by an otherwise still-operating major manufacturer: go ahead and buy 'em. Just because the product is no longer being made, doesn't mean they aren't worth picking up, especially backed by a large company like Cisco.

That notion was reinforced by CNET News reporter Maggie Reardon's online chat with a Flip customer service representative who said there was nothing to be concerned about and it will continue to support users according to the terms and conditions of the warranty. However, when I asked similar questions to Cisco's public relations, the response I got was not nearly as encouraging.

To be more specific, the questions I asked were "Is it safe to continue to recommend the product as long as they're still available?" and "Will Cisco continue to support buyers--both old and new--going forward?"

The response I got in return was "In regards to both your questions, we are currently working (out) these details and will have more to share in the coming weeks."

Honestly, I expected them to come back with some reassurance, an "of course Cisco will support our customers" response. But this answer really makes it sound like it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to shut down Flip and there was no plan in place on how it'll support users going forward.

So, in response to this, we've removed Flip products from our top camcorder lists and will add a note to the product reviews that we do not recommend buying the devices until Cisco has a plan for supporting its customers. For now, it's buy at your own risk.

In the meantime, here's a list of other minicamcorders worth checking out and we'll be ramping up coverage of the devices to find the best of the category.