Hands-on with the Flip Video Ultra: Flippin' 'eck

Sceptical Crave and optimistic Crave are always disagreeing, and today they're going head-to-head over the Flip Video Ultra, a budget pocket video camera

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.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

"Good morning, sceptical Crave!" "Is it, optimistic Crave? Is it?" "Yes it is, sceptical Crave. Hey, what have you got there?" "It's a Flip Video Ultra." "Oh, I've heard of it, that's the cute little pocket video camcorder that's taking the US by storm."

"No, optimistic Crave, it's a plastic box that shoots video and nobody's going to buy it." "Shame on you, sceptical Crave! It records 60 minutes of standard-definition H.264 MPEG-4 video and automatically converts that to WMV or QuickTime when connected to a computer. It runs off AA batteries and has a dinky flip-out USB arm so you just plug it straight in. There's no software to install because it's all on the camera. It has a big red record button so you just shoot, then plug and play. The software then lets you easily edit your footage."

"Come on, optimistic Crave. Only 60 minutes? And only a 1.5-inch screen? People can just use their phones!"

"Maybe. But mobile phones don't have 1/4-inch VGA CMOS sensors. And it's massive in the States."

"Everyone's massive in the States..."

"It's sold nearly a million units over there. It's a genuine phenomenon! The manufacturers claim the Flip Ultra is changing the way people use video -- people are shooting short clips on an everyday basis and instantly sharing to YouTube and the like straight from the software, instead of buying a hugely expensive camcorder and only getting it out at Christmas. I think the Flip Ultra could do for video what the iPod did for digital music."

"Whoah there, over-optimistic Crave! Let's not start throwing around the iPod comparison, people might quote you. Anyway, how much is it?"

"It's £99."

"How much?"

"Well yeah, that is a bit much, especially compared to the US. But you can choose from black, orange, pink or white models, and you'll be able to buy it pretty much anywhere from June. I'm going to take mine outside and film passers-by because it's such a lovely day!"

"Is it, optimistic Crave? Is it?" -Rich Trenholm

Update: We've been asked to make clear that the Ultra is sold over here by Flip Video UK, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Pure Digital Technologies. Or Pure Digital the DAB radio folks. Sceptical Crave wonders if all the good names are gone.

Further update: Read our full Flip Video Ultra review