The Flip video camera, launched in 2007, introduced a practical, portable video recorder. It was slim enough to slide into a pocket. Had a flip out USB connector so you didn’t have to worry about finding cables. And best of all it had a built in LCD screen so you actually knew what you were filming (this was a novelty in 2007).
It pre-dated the current iteration of action cameras we know of today, introducing video recording well before GoPro. It also led to a new category of tiny camcorders with some hilariously named competitors like the Sony Bloggie Touch (so close to inventing vlogging).
However, a short four years later, the Flip was no more, shut down by its aquirerer.
If you’re looking for another great pocket sized video camera, fear not. We’ve got you covered. Read on for our top five picks.
But first, what went so wrong with Flip?
What Happened to Flip
Launched in San Francisco in 2007, Flip quickly found success, selling two million units in its first two years.
Around that same time in 2009, the founders capitalized on the buzz and cashed – selling to Cisco Systems for $590 million dollars.
Then, two years later in 2011, Cisco announced they were shutting down their Flip video camera division. Flip video camera was no more.
Now the demise of Flip, or at least the version we knew it as, was probably inevitable with the rise of smartphones putting a high quality camera in everyone’s pocket.
Could they have evolved into a more action oriented camera? Possibly. But we’ll never know.
Flip UltraHD Video Camera vs Flip Ultra Video Camera
The Flip Video Ultra was Flip’s breakout hit. It only recorded in standard definition (VGA 640 x 480) and had a 30 minute internal recording limit. The Ultra II expanded the recording limit to 2 hours.
The Flip Video UltraHD introduced HD recording, but only at 720p instead of the standard 1080p. The top of the line model sold for $200 and had 8 GB internal storage for 2 hours of recording and could record at 60 FPS.
Other models include the slimmer Flip MinoHD and flippable SlideHD. Here’s an archived page of their product lineup with specs before being shut down.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and want a Flip camera for fun, you can generally find some used ones on Amazon from private sellers.
5 Alternatives to Flip Video Camera
Chances are you already have a far better camera than anything that Flip offered right in your pocket on your smartphone. But the beauty of the Flip cameras was a single purpose device that made it easy to record video, could be mounted like a camera, and it wasn’t the end of the world if you lost it.
So let’s look at 5 similar cameras that fit the same intent as the Flip camera but have today’s modern imaging technology.
DJI Pocket 2
The closest device to match the vertical, handheld recording ergonomics of the Flip with a built in screen is the DJI Pocket line.
Key Features of DJI Pocket 2
- 4K recording at 60fps
- HDR video
- 8x zoom
- 3 axis camera stabilizer
- ActiveTrack 3.0 for tracking people in your shots
The original action cam – the GoPro has been the go-to staple for years for capturing stunning shots. In its more recent versions it’s added features to make itself a capable video camera for all types of work, not just action videography.
Key Features of the GoPro HERO9 Black
- 5K recording at 30fps, 240fps at 1080p
- Front facing display (in addition to larger rear display)
- Waterproof to 33 feet
- Detachable lens
- 1080p Live Streaming
- Hypersmooth 3.0
Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
While Garmin is more known for their rugged, GPS tracking smart watches, they’ve taken some of the same tech and merged it with their VIRB camera line.
While these action cams are similar to GoPro, if displaying on-screen metrics of your activity are important to you, the Garmin can link with your Garmin watch and pull in a lot more data than the GoPro, including heart rate and power output.
Key Features of the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
- 4K recording at 30fps
- Built in high-sensitivity GPS
- Accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, and compass
- 3-axis image stabilization (only on 1080p recording)
Sony FDR X3000
For a higher end take on portable camcorders, Sony’s action cam includes a high quality Zeiss lens and Exmore R CMOS sensor.
The display screen is a separate device, giving you the flexibility to mount your camera in sone spot (say, a helmet) and monitor your footage somewhere more convenient (like your handlebar).
But that two part setup does give this camera a higher price tag.
Key Features of the Sony FDR X3000
- 4K recording at 30fps
- Includes 60m underwater housing
- Flexible live-view remote and monitor
Akaso Brave 7 LE
For a budget option, the Akaso Brave ticks all the boxes. Dual screens, weatherproof, 4K recording, and less than $150 – cheaper than even the Flip UltraHD.
Key Features of the Akaso Brave 7 LE
- 4K recording at 30fps
- Front and rear facing screens
- Weatherproof and includes 40M waterproof housing
- You’re basically buying a GoPro knockoff
Hopefully this helped you find a viable alternative to the Flip video camera. For a couple more options check out this post. And if you are recording video on your phone and are trying to get the best quality, make sure to use a high end cinematography app like FiLMiC Pro and get some iPhone video accessories.