As part of a promotion of their new NHL branded Flip cameras, we were contacted by Cisco and their marketing team to ask if we'd like to get a sample of their Blue Jackets branded Flip HD cameras to review.
Sure, we said, but what's in it for our readers? Well, we'll have more on that presently. For now, let's take a look at what we've got here, and if it might be a worthy addition to your holiday shopping list
First, since it's the reason we were sent a unit to review, we have to mention the design aspect - Flip will be offering custom designs for all 30 NHL teams, plus a generic "NHL Shield" design, all available from their online store.
The customized camera is available in five dfferent configurations - from the basic UltraHD 4GB with one hour of shooting time, to the advanced SlideHD 16GB that can store up to four hours of video. For our review, we were provided the MinioHD 4GB, which features an internal rechargable battery, HDMI output using a separate Flip adapter, and the ability to shoot 720p HD video (1280 x 720 resolution) at 60 frames per second.
So, as the joke goes, what's in the box?
Other, smaller boxes, of course.
I've provided a quarter for scale on all shots of the internal box and the camera itself because the first thing you'll notice is how small the Flip is.
This is my first time using a Flip camera, and I honestly was impressed by how much they pack into a very small body. The camera is just under four inches long and two inches wide - smaller than the camera I used to take the pictures for this review, in fact.
Once you open the box, though, we get to the heart of the matter:
The camera design does a nice job of emulating the team's home jersey, though I was a little surprised by the design being off-center. It does line up with the actual camera lens, but I can't help but think it would have been a little more aesthetically pleasing if they'd just centered it. It seems to be a theme for all of the NHL designs, though.
The design is only visible on the "front" face of the camera, going towards your subjects. The main controls and display for the user are a base black, with white accents on the controls and the record button, of course, prominently displayed in red.
The camera itself is almost shockingly light - and under the camera, when you take it out of the box, one of the first things you'll find is an attachable wrist strap. If you're taking the camera outside or to a game, I would highly suggest using it. It's all too easy to imagine the camera getting dropped or jostled, particularly if you're trying to shoot video after a goal or during a fight when everyone around you will be getting up and cheering.
For those who prefer to keep their cameras in a purse or bag, the Flip also comes with a small drawstring pouch it can be carried in to protect the camera from wear.
The manual suggests charging the camera completely before use, so you will need to have your computer powered up, or an externally powered USB hub. By pressing a small slider switch on the side of the camera, the USB jack will deploy, and it can be plugged directly into any computer, though Flip recommends you have at least a USB 2.0 port. (This should not be an issue for newer PCs, but anyone with an older computer may want to check their specifications.)
Once plugged in for the first time, the camera will also ask you to load the FlipShare software that comes pre-loaded on the camera, for use with Windows or Mac, to help you download your video, edit it, and share it on the web or through services like Twitter or Facebook.
Using the software is quite easy, after you look at it with some video on the camera - you'll be given a menu showing every clip you recorded, and the ability to play each clip, choose to save it to the computer, blow it up to full screen, or discard it.
You will also be given the option to delete movies off the camera as you download them, or to configure the camera to automatically dump the video to a folder on your PC when it is connected.
One complaint I have working in the FlipShare software is that you can trim video to edit clips down, but you cannot adjust the horizontal or vertical rotation - that means if you tried to turn the flip to better capture the width of a hockey rink during a game, the clip appears to be playing on its' side. This isn't too difficult to fix in a movie editing software like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, but it would still be nice.
When you want to create a movie to share, there are several options from inside the FlipShare software. The "magic movie" option will take clips in the order they were filmed and string them together, then let you add titles, credits, and even background music from your computer or pre-made samples provided by Flip.
The "Full Movie" option gives you a bit more control, allowing you to put clips together in your preferred order.
Finally, once you're ready, just hit the "share video" option to upload to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or other web services like Vimeo. The Flipshare program will optimize the video for the web, and can even upload directly to Twitter or YouTube if you sign in with your credentials. For other services, it will save the optimized video to an export folder, and you can upload it from there.
I also learned that if you delete a video with the FlipShare editor, that clip is GONE - and unfortunately, I lost a few clips that I needed to get back. It took the use of a special file browsing tool to get the videos back off the camera's memory...and if I had shot more video before realizing that a movie needed to be re-edited, that video would have been overwritten. That's worth keeping in mind for anyone who wants to shoot a lot of video, download, and go back to edit later.
So, with that said, how would the Flip work at a hockey game?
Based on practice today, I'd say pretty well...depending on where your seats are.
The Flip's zoom function is OK, but it feels like it was built more for zooming in on someone running around a room than skating in an NHL rink, and trying to keep the camera constantly one one player can be a challenge.
When I sat down near the glass to film Jared Boll and a few other guys shooting the puck at a goalie cut-out before the main practice got going, it did a great job of capturing the scene. When I moved higher up into the lower bowl, it felt like the video was still pretty good, but the players were more difficult to recognize. (Of course, they were also all using practice jerseys without numbers, so outside of recognizing faces or bodies, the only way to ID them was the number on their helmets - in a real game, with fully numbered jerseys, that's probably easier, too.)
If I had a Flip in the upper bowl, and I was shooting video of, say, the attack twice zone in front of me from 207? I think it would still work well to capture the play. If I was shooting something happened down at the other end in front of section 224 or 101? Not so much.
There's also the issue of having the flip ready to capture big plays or scoring chances - if you're got good reflexes, the big red "RECORDING" button is easy to hit as long as the camera is powered up, but trying to keep it running through an entire game would be a major drain on the battery. Using it in the shootout? Yes, absolutely. I think it would be great for that, actually. Using it in overtime even, sure. Running it through an entire period? I've got my doubts.
The Flip does come with a universal tripod adapter, so if you had an empty seat in front of you, you could take a little flexible tripod like a GorillaPod and attach it to a seat or the edge of the boards, I suppose, but you'd need some very co-operative people around you.
Where the Flip shines is taking video one on one - shooting video is quite easy even as you talk to the people you're filming, and the zoom controls can easily be handled with your thumb as you hold the camera to make sure you have a good view of your shot, and the HD quality starts to really stand out.
In fact, I happened to talk to CBJ VP of PR Todd Sharrock, and he mentioned the team had started taking a very similar camera with them on the road for doing post-game interviews with players. So, with that in mind, here's a look at how the Flip can shine one on one with a pair of Post Practice interviews - one featuring Chris Clark, and the other with Kris Russell....and a small peanut gallery of his peers in the background.
(The peanut gallery giving Russ the business during the interview included Marc Methot, Jake Voracek, and Derick Brassard.)
Finally, I used the camera to record head coach Scott Arniel's post-practice press conference - take a listen to hear what he thinks about tomorrow's upcoming game in St. Louis!
All things considered, if I was shopping for a Blue Jackets fan this holiday season, especially one who likes to go to games and take video from their cell phone? Yes, absolutely, the Flip MinoHD is a great gift, and being able to customize it in Blue Jackets' colors is the icing on the cake, particularly when you compare the size of the Flip to, say, an iPhone. While the camera and its' associated software have some minor flaws, I feel the ease of use and ability to quickly and easily capture and share video outshine the negatives by a wide margin.
The base model Flip UltraHD, which runs on AA batteries or a rechargable battery pack, starts a $149. The unit we reviewed retails for $179, and the deluxe SlideHD, with an internal four hour battery and 16GB of recording space, is available for $229.
Here's the press release with all the juicy details, including how to win a trip to the 2011 NHL All Star Game!
CISCO AND THE NHL TEAM UP TO OFFER
COOL NEW TEAM-DESIGNED FLIP VIDEO CAMERAS
Hockey Fans Can Win NHL Flip Cameras or a Trip to the
2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - December 7, 2010 - One of hockey's most iconic phrases - "he shoots, he scores" may soon be replaced by "he shoots, he shares" - as Cisco's Flip VideoTM, and the National Hockey League® (NHL) team up to offer 30 uniquely designed NHL team Flip video cameras. In addition, Flip Video will offer Facebook fans a chance to win Flip cameras and a trip to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover. Select NHL.com reporters will also receive NHL-branded Flip video cameras to capture all the hockey action on and off the ice.
Beginning December 7, fans can choose their own official NHL Flip video camera with a custom design from any one of the 30 NHL teams from the U.S. and Canada. A perfect gift for hockey lovers, the new Flip designs are available through the Flip Video online store: theflip.com/NHL. The NHL-branded Flips will be offered on all of the latest Flip video cameras including the Flip UltraHD, MinoHD and SlideHD*, starting at $149, for anytime shoot and share fun.
"Flip is the only video camera on the market that consumers can customize and select from thousands of unique designs. Our ability to offer customization has enabled us to team with the NBA and now the NHL, which was a natural extension for our brand," said Jodi Lipe, director of marketing for Cisco's Consumer Products. "Whether it's at the Stanley Cup Final or an afternoon snowball fight with friends, Flip video cameras are a fun and simple way to capture and share videos with friends and family."
"Hockey fans are in a class of their own when it comes to diehard loyalty," said Dave McCarthy, NHL Vice President Integrated Marketing. "Owning a Flip video camera representing their favorite team is a great way for fans to show support and more importantly have fun sharing their passion with fellow hockey fans and friends around the world."
To help promote the new NHL designs, Flip is hosting a contest called the Flip Video Fan Face-off that will give away one grand prize trip for two to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina, January 30, as well as daily prizes of NHL-custom designed team Flips every day in December. Hockey fans can face-off for these cool prizes starting on December 9, 2010 at www.facebook.com/flipvideo.
Flip Video is the only video camera line to feature official designs from the NHL and all 30 NHL teams so fans can show their affinity for their favorite NHL team while shooting and sharing video with others at games, parties or events. Flip video cameras make it easy to share video via email, FacebookTM, YouTubeTM, TwitterTM and even on a TV.
Cisco is also equipping the team of 20 NHL.com reporters with their own NHL logo Flip video camera to use as they travel to NHL games around the U.S. and Canada. With their official NHL Flips, the on-the-scene reporters will be able to greatly enhance their coverage by capturing video footage to post to the NHL.com web site.
All NHL team designs are available at www.theflip.com/NHL starting today at $149.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. This year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. Cisco's vision for the consumer is to enable people to live a connected life that is more personal, more social, and more visual. Further information about Cisco and its full line of consumer products including Linksys, Valet and Flip Video can be found at www.theflip.com, http://home.cisco.com and www.cisco.com/consumer.
- Become a Flip Video Facebook fan: www.facebook.com/flipvideo
- Become a Flip Video MySpace fan: www.myspace.com/flipvideo
- Check our videos on YouTube: www.youtube.com/theflip
- Follow us on Twitter: @flipvideobrand
- Cisco Consumer Blogs: http://blogs.cisco.com/consumer
The National Hockey League, founded in 1917, is the second-oldest of the four major professional team sports leagues in North America. Today, the NHL consists of 30 Member Clubs, each reflecting the League's international makeup, with players from more than 20 countries represented on team rosters. According to a Simmons Market Research study, NHL fans are younger, more educated, more affluent, and access content through digital means more than any other major professional sport. The NHL entertains more than 250 million fans each season in-arena and through its partners in national television (VERSUS, NBC, TSN, CBC, RDS, RIS, ESPN America, ASN and NHL NetworkTM) and radio (NHL RadioTM, Sirius XM Satellite Radio and XM Canada). Through the NHL Foundation, the League's charitable arm, the NHL raises money and awareness for Hockey Fights CancerTM and NHL Youth Development, and supports the charitable efforts of NHL players. For more information on the NHL, log on to NHL.com
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*The SlideHD is only offered in the United States.
Cisco, the Cisco Logo, Flip Video and Flip Video Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco's trademarks can be found at www.cisco.com/go/trademarks. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company.
NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. NHL and NHL team marks are the property of the NHL and its teams. All Rights Reserved.
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