This week Cisco Systems, Inc. announced that they were going to close down the Flip Video division. Flip video cameras helped to create the market for ultra-portable HD videocameras that didn't require any tapes, discs or other types of removable storage (they use flash memory), had decent battery life and sold for less than $200. You simply pushed the button to record and uploaded the short videos onto your computer. It became the go to tool for bloggers, aspiring filmmakers and a good portion of Youtube posters. The Flip video camera had almost achieved the sort of brand identity that equated Flip with all portable video cameras.
Lots of commentators said that Flip's demise was a natural product of people using their iPhones or other smartphones as an all-in-one device. Why should you carry a phone and a video camera if one will do? That may the case for a lot of consumers, but the specs on dedicated video recorders are generally a bit more robust (longer record time, image stabilization, higher frames per second, and optics) and there is also the issue of battery life and storage size. And while video recording is a nice bonus for the smartphone user, you aren't likely to lend your expensive iPhone to your teenager to record the action at the skate park or film the video for their friends' rock band. Your phone is too important a tool to risk losing or breaking.
Probably the more accurate observation about Cisco's move is that they are refocusing on their core customers, which is so-called Enterprise clients (medium to larger businesses and government). Most consumers have no awareness of the main products and services that Cisco provides. Flip didn't fit.
The truth is, Flip cameras had the brand recognition, but they were not always the best performers on the market. Now is the chance for you to check out the competition. These type of cameras are called 'shoot and share,' to distinguish them from higher end video cameras.
Kodak has a bunch of cool portable video cameras including the PlaySport line which are designed to handle outdoor action situations. I like this one from Amazon which can record 1080p video and is waterproof up to 10 ft., dustproof and especially useful, shockproof. Another popular choice is the Sony Bloggie listed here at Best Buy. It has a 3 inch LED touchscreen that allows you to easily flip through your videos and still images. hhgregg offers an option for under $60 that will suit most of your portable video needs. suggested the Creative VaDo.
The market was dominated by Flip, but their demise doesn't mean you have to do without. Now that it is time to get outdoors, grab one of these lightweight cameras and record those get togethers with friends, festivals, scenes from the farmer's market, baseball games--and share your videos on Facebook, youtube or on your own blog.