Flip is dead, so here's some alternative cameras, camcorders and phones

Flip Video is dead, in the face of competition from big-name rivals, video-shooting cameras, and camera phones. Here's some alternatives.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
3 min read

Flip Video is dead. The company that led the craze for affordable, one-button pocket camcorders with the Flip Ultra and Flip Mino is being wound up by owners Cisco in the face of competition from big-name rivals, video-shooting compact cameras and camera phones.

Cisco bought Flip two years ago for £360m, and although Flip camcorders are still popular they clearly don't pay their way. Cisco is pulling the plug on more than 550 workers. With a gaping Flip-shaped hole in our lives, let's take a look at the rivals that saw Flip off, and see what unique features could help them swim where Flip sank.

What the Flip?

Flip basically invented the market for pocket-sized camcorders in 2008 with the Flip Video Ultra, a plastic AA battery-powered camcorder with a big red button to record YouTube-sized footage. Flip became a tad more sophisticated with the arrival of the smaller Flip Video Mino.

The following year Flip went high-definition as it faced a slew of competitors from big companies such as Sony, Panasonic and Kodak scrambling to catch up.

The alternatives

Ultimately it seems it's not the raft of rivals that killed Flip. No, it's the camera phone. A phone with a camera in it can't challenge a compact camera for picture quality, but 1080p high-definition video is now well within a phone's grasp.

Flip-style camcorders only have one function, and have been left behind by the multi-function smart phone. The Flip camcorder won't be the last single-use casualty of the feature-packed phone, and it'll be interesting to see how long even the big name mini-corders last.

Sony Bloggie Touch

The Flip's simplicity was its main virtue, but there's only so much you can do with one button. Sony solves that problem with the Sony Bloggie Touch's large 3-inch touchscreen, allowing you to adjust options without cluttering up the camcorder's body. The 1080p Bloggie also uses a 360-degree attachment to film very cool panoramic video.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

The wafer-thin Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc smart phone couldn't be more pocket-friendly if it tried, but it's what's inside that wins our hearts. The mobile packs an Exmor R CMOS sensor, as seen in Sony's compact camera range. The size of a mobile phone usually severely limits the size of the camera sensor, so it's good to see the Arc making the most of what it's got to work with, offering plenty of settings to play with.

Panasonic HM-TA1

The Panasonic HM-TA1 is one of the cheaper camcorders from a major manufacturer. It doesn't offer any exciting whistles and bells -- so its days could be numbered -- but it is a colourful 1080p pocket shooter that does everything the Flip could.

Kodak PlayTouch

Mini-camcorders are great for capturing the fun of holidays, but standard cameras aren't up to the sand, sea or snow. Enter the Kodak PlayTouch, a waterproof, sand-proof, drop-proof 1080p mini-camcorder that will slide happily into your swimming trunks and film your snorkelling adventures.

Casio Exilim EX-H15

Compact cameras had a hand in Flip's demise too, as many now offer 720p or 1080p video. Even if we stick to the Flip price range, cameras such as the Casio Exilim EX-H15 offer large screens, long zooms and high-quality still photos.

iPhone 4

We always get stick for putting the iPhone 4 in lists like this, and the video does have issues -- but it deserves a mention for one simple reason: iMovie. When you've filmed your video with the iPhone's 5-megapixel 720p camera, Apple's simple video-editing app lets you edit your mini masterwork with transitions, music and titles before uploading it straight to the Internet.

LG Optimus 3D

The LG Optimus 3D isn't out yet, but it's one of a forthcoming crop of phones to offer 1080p hi-def video such as the HTC Desire S, Samsung Galaxy S 2 and HTC Sensation. The Optimus packs not one but two cameras, so it can record 720p video in 3D and play back the video on its 3D screen.

Flip RIP

Do you own a Flip or does your phone take care of all your video needs? And what do you think will be the next casualty of convergence? Flip out in the comments.