In case you didn't have enough reasons to worry about videos of your escapades showing up online, Flip Video has made video posting easier than ever. The Flip Mino, the latest in the Flip series of pocket camcorders, is smaller and sleeker than the Flip Ultra, and it adds MySpace integration for video uploads.

When it comes to size, the thin Flip Mino is the iPod Nano to the Flip Ultra's iPod Classic. Clocking in at 100x50x16mm, it's the smallest model in Flip Video's popular pocket camcorder line. It's also the most versatile, thanks to the company's new video engine that produces great-looking SVGA-resolution (640x480) video. The unit's 2GB flash drive holds an hour of clips.

At £119, the Flip Mino also comes in at some £40 more than Creative's £79 Vado, a pocket camcorder with which it shares some similarities, including an onboard USB connector, direct-to-YouTube uploads, diminutive size and comparably slick design. Is the Mino worth the extra 40 of your finest? It just might be, if you value video quality and Mac compatibility.

If you've used the Flip Video or Flip Ultra, you'll know how to operate the Flip Mino - even its new features are a no-brainer for a first-time user to operate. The Mino adds touch-sensitive controls, which replace all standard buttons (other than the record and power buttons) found on the other Flip models. These four capacitive touch buttons surround the centrally positioned record button; 'plus' and 'minus' buttons control the zoom and the audio playback volume, while left and right buttons allow you to select videos for playback. The Mino's full set of controls are rounded out by touch-sensitive play/pause buttons and a delete button.

Although we liked the clean, slick look of the Flip Mino's capacitive touch buttons, we found it way too easy during our testing to play back or delete clips by accidentally brushing a finger against the buttons. You can lock the delete key by pressing it down for a few seconds, but that doesn't go far enough; the Mino's touch sensitivity may be a bit too touchy for some users.

That said, the Flip Mino's buttons do seem to solve the problem previous Flip models had, where you could accidentally start a recording while the device was in your pocket - and the Mino fits very comfortably into a shirt or jeans pocket.

Also new to the Flip Mino is the integrated lithium-ion battery (previous models used AA batteries), and the location of the flip-out USB jack, the magic component that makes the Flip models (as well as the Creative Vado) so plug-and-play convenient. Earlier Flip units had a flip-out USB connector on the side; the Mino's connector instead flips out, switchblade-style, from the top of the device. It makes the Mino slightly less unwieldy to plug in to your computer's USB port. When connected, the Mino can upload clips directly to YouTube, AOL Video, or MySpace; you also use the USB connector to charge the device's battery (it has no power cord).

The Flip Mino holds some key advantages over the significantly cheaper Creative Vado. For one, the Flip Mino's video-management software (which is embedded in the device, so you don't have to install it separately from a disc) works with Apple Mac OS X, while the Vado's software works only on XP and Vista.

Second, even though both shoot 640x480-pixel Mpeg4 AVI clips at 30 fps, the Mino's video quality is flat-out better than that of the Vado. This is especially true for indoor, mediocre-lighting settings: The Mino still turns out clear, sharp clips, while the Vado's clips look pixellated, murky, or just plain dark in anything other than well-lit areas. The Mino is your obvious pick if video quality is what you seek, even at almost twice the price.

And if you're a MySpace or AOL Video user, the Flip Mino also has built-in integration with those sites' video players; the same doesn't hold true for the Vado, which works only with YouTube and Photobucket.

Still, the Mino has some drawbacks compared with Creative's YouTube-friendly model. On Windows XP, the Flip software failed to upload my clips to YouTube the first three times we tried it. When uploading did work, we found the Flip Mino was slower than the Vado at this task. Flip Video explains that the Mino transcodes video footage before it uploads the clips to YouTube, which would explain the slower uploading process; Creative's pocket camcorder doesn't convert the video before uploading.

The Vado can also hold more footage despite its identical 2GB flash drive: While the Flip Mino tops out at 1 hour of footage, the Vado can hold 2 hours of clips (but with noticeably sub-par quality, to be sure).

Besides the pocket camcorder itself, you get a few other goodies with the Flip Mino's price of admission: a protective pouch, an RCA cable for watching your clips on a standard TV, a wrist strap and basic but clear documentation.

Creative's Vado has a bargain-bin price, but as the Flip Mino shows, you get what you pay for: The £119 Flip Mino is the clearly the better camcorder of the two. If video quality is what you're after, or if you use a Mac, the Flip Mino is worth the extra scratch.

Flip Video Mino: Specs

  • 2GB capacity
  • 1.5in (528x132) TFT touchscreen
  • 1 hour recording time
  • 1/4in VGA CMOS sensor
  • records Mpeg4 AVI 640x480 video at 30fps
  • average bitrate 4Mbps
  • auto white/black balance and exposure
  • aperture f2.4
  • 2x digital zoom
  • available in white or black
  • rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • battery life: 4 hours
  • charge time: via USB: 3 hours, via power adaptor: 2 hours
  • powers up in 4 seconds
  • power saver mode
  • play all/pause/fast-rforward/rewind functions
  • time and date
  • built-in speaker
  • built-in wide-range, omni-directional mic
  • TV-out
  • tripod mount
  • box includes soft case, TV cable, wrist strap, quickstart guide
  • 100x50x16mm
  • 93g
  • 2GB capacity
  • 1.5in (528x132) TFT touchscreen
  • 1 hour recording time
  • 1/4in VGA CMOS sensor
  • records Mpeg4 AVI 640x480 video at 30fps
  • average bitrate 4Mbps
  • auto white/black balance and exposure
  • aperture f2.4
  • 2x digital zoom
  • available in white or black
  • rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • battery life: 4 hours
  • charge time: via USB: 3 hours, via power adaptor: 2 hours
  • powers up in 4 seconds
  • power saver mode
  • play all/pause/fast-rforward/rewind functions
  • time and date
  • built-in speaker
  • built-in wide-range, omni-directional mic
  • TV-out
  • tripod mount
  • box includes soft case, TV cable, wrist strap, quickstart guide
  • 100x50x16mm
  • 93g

OUR VERDICT

The Flip Mino is sleek, pocketable and easy to use. The video quality also excels. However, the somewhat pricey Mino's video-uploading software can be slow and buggy and the buttons are overly sensitive.

Find the best price