Ever since Cisco acquired the makers of the Flip video camera last year, it's been pushing out new versions of its pocket camcorders on a regular basis. The latest variation is the $279.99 Flip SlideHD, which has added a nifty three-inch wide touchscreen to its "shoot 'n' share" abilities that allows you to watch what you've just shot.
It's significantly thicker than its sleek brother, the Mino HD, which is not so much of a good thing. Perhaps, like Apple's iPad, Cisco has crushed the stone tablet that says "Gadgets must get smaller." You can't help feeling that, whereas Flip's other products looked the business, the Flip SlideHD looks more like a toy--its glossy white body is markedly similar to a Nintendo DS.
Basic abilities are this: four hours' recording time, 12 hours' storage on its 16GB memory, and 30fps HD video at 1280x720. It's got the exact same sensor as the Mino HD and older Ultra HD, which means it's fine--but pocket camcorders like Kodak's Zi8 have leapt past it in pure ability. The controls, too, haven't changed, which is generally a good thing--except in this case, because the SlideHD has a comparatively huge 3.0-inch touchscreen to work with, twice the size of its predecessors. Yet Flip's done nothing with that potential: half the screen is taken up with touch versions of the classic Flip controls, and so you're restricted to using the same tiny 1.5-inch viewing area while shooting video. Why not give us the full three inches, at least when shooting in landscape?
The gadget is being marketed as a more immediate way for family and friends to view just-shot video, but it's doubtful that the whole family would be able to gather 'round and watch due to the honestly still-Lilliputian screen size. Available now from the usual retailers for $279.99--but I'd recommend just going for the latest Mino HD. You can actually fit the Mino in your pocket, which is an invaluable feature for a pocket camcorder.