The pocket camcorder market is fighting fit at the moment. So we have brought together two of its punchier challengers. Will it be the undisputed king of point-and-shoot: Flip, with its second generation Mino HD, boasting a bigger screen, enhanced memory and metal body? Or will plaudits go to the plucky outsider, the third generation Creative Vado HD, now redesigned with manual features. Our pockets are only big enough for one winner, so which delivers the knockout punch?
Design and build
Creative: Although it has been redesigned since the older Creative Vado HD; the plasticky body isn’t going to win any awards for looks next to the metal Flip. It’s lighter though at 93 grams. The rubberised USB port doesn’t feel particularly durable either.
Flip: The slimmest of the two, the Flip Mino HD measures just 51mn, it’s slightly heavier at 113 grams, but thanks to a stylish brushed metal back, feels more sturdy. The flip out metal USB stick more than impresses because of its superb swivel action.
Ease of use
Creative: A button on the top-right of the Vado HD swaps between video and still images – hold it down again to get to the settings menu. The record button is easy to find without looking on the front of the chassis and the zoom smooth to control using touch-sensitive zoom. If you don’t like what you’ve shot, there’s a delete button on the side.
Flip: The Flip feels sturdy in the hand, with a nice big lip around the lens to make sure your finger doesn’t flit into view. Smack bang on the front of the device, the record button is easy to locate, clicking the button again stops recording, all very simple. The touch-sensitive controls glow white, which is a neat touch for dim conditions.
Creative: One-button sharing to YouTube and Facebook is welcome, as is the direct iMovie import. It shoots 720p (HD+) footage and the battery lasts two hours. If you drill into the features memory, then there are nice added extras like motion detection, instant record and anti-flicker.
Flip: Shooting HD+ footage 1280x720p footage filmed at 30fps. Most features on the Flip are automatic – including white balance and exposure. The 2x digital zoom isn’t fantastic, but then again, neither is the Creative’s. The one-touch YouTube and MySpace function works well but there’s nothing mind-blowing here.
Creative: While you can never get excited by a two-inch, 640 x 240 pixel screen it works well enough. Picture quality, though small, is passable, but it’s not quite as sharp or colours are as bold as the Flip.
Flip: The screen is primed for bright daylight meaning that the Flip is at its best outside, although with a resolution of 960×240 it trumps the Creative for sharpness and clarity in dim conditions. The screen’s small at two inches, but fine for shooting short, sharp video.
Creative: Footage played back (via the included HDMI cable) on a 37-inch HDTV looks clear, but it just doesn’t feel like vibrant enough even when you use it on the highest quality setting.
Flip: When we plugged the Flip into a HDTV via our own cable (one isn’t supplied) results don’t disappoint. It may not sparkle like professionally shot HD images but it is crisp and clear.
Creative: The Vado HD shoots 1280x720p still images. At just under 1MP, they’re fine for emailing, but no match for a digital camera or even cameraphone like the Sony Ericsson Satio or Nokia N97 mini.
Flip: The MinoHD doesn’t take still images, but you can take photos from your video footage via a computer, which seems far too laborious.
Creative: There is only 4GB internal storage on-board. This holds one hour of HD+ footage, three hours of HD and four hours of VGA footage. An SD card slot would have been useful.
Flip: Storage for the Flip MinoHD is completely internal too. The latest version is 8GB, holding two hours of footage, like the Ultra HD.The older 4GB version is still available, with a smaller screen, and holds one hour of HD footage.
Creative: The flip out USB 2.0 cable may not be as impressive as the Flip’s, but the Creative adds a 3.5mm port to proceedings for a mic or headphones. Also included is a HDMI output and (plastic) tripod screw mount.
Flip: There’s one-click uploading to YouTube and MySpace, an HDMI output and a cool flip out USB 2.0 port. While you also have a superior metal tripod mount. No 3.5mm jack though.
Creative: A worthy contender for the pocket camcorder crown, but a basic-looking design and lack of eye-popping video quality lets it down.
Score: 3 stars
Flip: It looks great and shoots decent footage for its size. Yes, its features are basic but it offers just what the point-and-shoot crowd want – quality.
Score: 4 stars
Overall winner: Flip
Creative Vado HD
Price: £150 (4GB)
Flip Mino HD (available April 8th)
Price: £180 (8GB)