Here is my review for Amazon.com (2 stars)
Cute overpriced toy, but nothing more - Here's a NO-BRAINER alternative, December 17, 2008
A friend gave me her Flip to try out for a few days, and I was not impressed. Rather than give it a full review as others have, I've written only written a semi-review, with much of it explaining why a point-and-shoot camera is a MUCH better choice.
THE FLIP vs A POINT-AND-SHOOT --- NO BRAINER
Before considering this toy, keep in mind that you can get a real point-and-shoot camera for about the same price or less -- even from reputable companies like Nikon, Canon, Olympus, etc. And they all do 640x480 videos at 30 frames per second. Furthermore, they are limited only by the amount of free memory available, which you can add on-the-fly by simply swapping memory cards. You can't do that with the Flip. Some will even have 3-5x OPTICAL zooming that you can use while recording (like my $59 Samsung S85, fifty-nine dollars). Plus you get high quality autofocusing glass lenses. The Flip is fixed focus, much like that in a disposable camera. And digital zoom is a joke. it's basically cropping the video's edges and then magnifying what's left to fill the screen. The quality is horrible and noise is amplified.
Don't underestimate the usefulness of zooming. I can't tell you how useful it is during sporting events to be able to zoom 5x. Many cameras also have video macro modes to capture closeup action within inches of the subject. I've found this useful for nature videos, i.e. insects on flowers. The Flip can only get as close as 31" whereas my Samsung can go up to 3". 31" is not good enough for capturing footage in a museum, where closeup is a must. Nor is it possible to capture regular text clearly, if necessary.
Models vary, of course, but those real cameras are generally no larger or heavier than this Flip, and they all feature a larger LCD screen (2"-2.5" vs the Flip's 1.5"). Most also use AA batteries so you need not be by an outlet or computer to recharge (rechargeable models generally cost more). Being point-and-shoot, they are no harder to use than the Flip. Just turn on and press a button. Most also have built in editing functions. And of course, you get a VASTLY superior still camera than what the Flip can do, i.e. more than 7 megapixels, shake reduction, multiple scene modes, face recognition, etc.
A criterion that many photographers use to critique a camera is start up time, i.e. the time it takes for the camera to power up. The Flip took 4-7 seconds whereas my $59 Samsung S85 takes about 1.5 seconds. Virtually no point-and-shoot will take more than 2.5 seconds. You can miss a lot of action in 7 seconds.
My favorite feature of point-and-shoots is that you don't even need to plug the camera into a computer. You can simply remove the camera's memory card and plug that directly into the computer. Many laptops and desktops have card readers built in, or you can buy one for under ten dollars. It's all drag-and-drop from there on. And if you need to print a photo, you can just take the card to a local drug store. Or plug the camera to a compatible printer. No need to turn on the computer at all. Can the Flip do that? And no need to install drivers or bloatware.
Because most cameras use standard video formats -- usually AVI or MOV -- you can simply load the files off the memory card for editing in any standard program (I sometimes even use WIndows Movie Maker). Want to email it? Simply attach the video off the memory card to your email. Much easier than what is described for the Flip. No special software, drivers, folders, etc. You treat the movie just like any other file. And yes, many cameras will also allow you to simply plug them in like USB memory without installing any special software.
Some people mistakenly believe that it's easier to upload Flip videos to sites like YouTube. This is untrue. You can simply upload your camera's AVI file directly to YouTube without any prior conversions. YouTube will do the resizing and conversions for you. I know because I do it all the time. In fact, I'd say that it's easier to upload camera videos because you're just dealing with a tiny memory card, which you can plug into most computers and laptops. With the Flip, you have to find a free USB port and enough physical space to plug in the Flip. My friend finds it annoying to have to unplug her other USB devices to accommodate the Flip every time she updates her Vlog. I ended up buying her a USB 4-port extender.
Speaking of the Flip's USB plug, it seems rather flimsy. That's alarming considering that it's an irreplaceable part. On a digital camera, the USB connection is accomplished through an easily-replaceable USB cable (about $2 on eBay). And again, you may never need to use the USB connection with a camera because video transfer can be accomplished via memory cards. I've never installed any drivers, software or used the USB cable.
To me, it seems like a no brainer to choose a real point-and-shoot camera over the Flip -- especially for roughly the same price. They win hands down for features, price, ease-of-use, quality, etc. And if you need HD videos, go for the Kodak Z1285 11 meg camera, which is frequently available refurbished for $79, seventy-nine dollars. The camera is decent but the videos are amazing, true HD 720p (and you can use the 5x optical zoom while recording). In fact, some film students are actually using the camera for their class assignments instead of a much more expensive HD video camera. You can find sample videos by Googling "Kodak Z1285 videos."
In summary, I can see absolutely no circumstance or reason for choosing this toy over a reputable point-and-shoot camera that can cost as little as $59. The cameras win or tie for every criteria imaginable: price, ease-of-use, quality, features, capacity, speed, etc. Well, the Flip probably wins for Coolness, which may be important for high schoolers. But if you're an adult and you want to look cool, go buy yourself some clothes with the money saved.