Gifts Good Stuff

Small, Inexpensive Camcorder for Sharing Experiences

flip.jpgIf you have a loved one who won’t be able to be with you for part of your holiday celebrations, you may want to rush out and find a Flip video camera. The Flip is a very cool piece of gear; it’s about the size of a rectangular cell phone and it’s incredibly easy to use — basically point and shoot.

But that’s not the best reason to get it. If you want to share holiday joy (or any other experience) easily and quickly, this little critter is your best friend. The Flip comes with an audio-video cable that plugs the camera directly into your television. Hit the play button, and there’s your video where everyone can see it. How easy is that?

At around $99-130 (USD) for the standard model (1 GB of memory), and $120-150 (USD) for the Ultra (2 GB) this camcorder is cheaper than many digital cameras. No, it won’t make cinema-quality video, but it does make terrific memory videos. It’s so small that you’ll never be tempted to leave it at home, and it’s so easy to use that there’s just no excuse not to film away.

If you’re filming for someone like my dad, who’s in a nursing home and finding it increasingly difficult to focus on details, you’ll want to remember to frame people and objects so that they can be identified easily.

After the holidays, we’ll be using ours to snap everyday things that may interest Dad — this would include dogs we encounter, our bad cats at play, odd or vintage motor vehicles, and stuff we see on local outings.

If you’ve got a youngster who may be participating in the holidays from a couch, bed, or chair, you might consider putting him or her in charge of recording the festivities. Judging from reviews on Amazon, kids as young as four can use the Flip, though I’d expect that eight and up is generally more realistic, at least for semi-independent use.

Recording time is 60 minutes; built-in software accommodates Windows and Macs, lets you upload films to YouTube and other sites, and capture frames for still photos. Reviews make it clear that if you’re serious about editing, you’ll need to buy separate software just for that. But that’s getting technical — here at GA, we’re more interested in the social side of things.

Flip is powered by 2 double A batteries; ours came with two cases and a wrist strap. I’ve seen them at Sam’s Club and Costco (though I see Costco doesn’t have it online today). Sam’s sells it only in the stores, not online. Amazon has them in stock, but you won’t take delivery by the 24th. Don’t let that stop you; there’s a whole new year ahead!