Watch your Flip videos in your living room

Flipshare TV: Flip Videos on Your  TV
Flipshare TV: Flip Videos on Your TV

I got an email last week announcing a new gadget/service from Flip called Flipshare TV.   The new gadget, retailing for $149.99 , allows you to stream your videos from your computer to your TV, without the need for setting up a streaming media server or a wireless network.   A move like this for Flip makes a lot of sense, particularly after being acquired by Cisco this year.

Tech enthusiasts may say, “So what, I can already do that.”   As a matter of fact, I can stream videos off my home computer to my TV with my Xbox 360.   The PS3 can also do this. However, Flip’s M.O. has always been making video easy, and this is another step in that direction.

What I think is particularly cool about the gadget is that it will allow users to share video with friends and family who also have the device.   Of course you can also do this with YouTube or a family blog, but that tethers the viewers to the computer screen.   FlipShare TV would allow the grandparents to simply launch the device and watch the latest videos of the kids on the big screen.

While many may still argue that the video and sound quality of the Flip cameras are “not that great”, I still believe the cameras really make it easy for normal folks to create quick videos easily.   I’ve owned a MiniDV camcorder for 5.5 years, and I’ve only used about 11 hours of tape with the camera.   Since getting my Flip Mino 18 months ago, I’ve shot a lot more video and shared a lot more movies.   The ease of use, plus the simple to learn software, make the Flip a great tool for sharing video.   And now, with the Flip TV gadget, sharing video will only get easier.   I’m curious to see how Flip/Cisco will market the device and how well it will be received.

Disclosure:   The email I received from Flip was to sell me the service.   I have not yet tried the service, and have received nothing from Flip to write this post.   I merely think the service/gadget looks promising, and will likely enhance Flip’s camcorder offerings.

Update:   I just found a nice review with an actual test of the product on All Things Digital.   If you’re curious as to how the Flipshare TV works, definitely check it out.

Does Flipshare degrade sound quality when uploading to YouTube?

The FlipShare software that comes with the Flip cameras allows you to do some really cool things with ease.   One of the features it has is the ability to let you easily upload a video to YouTube from the FlipShare menu.   It’s a convenient feature that doesn’t require the user to open aweb browser and go digging for the file.

The FlipShare window
The FlipShare window

Unfortunately, uploading a video to YouTube this way can have negative affects on the video, particularly the sound.   As an example, take a look and listen to the following video.   This video was uploaded with the FlipShare software.

Now watch and listen to this video, which was uploaded via the YouTube website by browsing to the raw AVI file on my desktop.

In the second video, you will notice that I don’t sound like I’m talking underwater, as I do in the first video. The sound in the second video is clear, but the first video the sound is quite garbled or hissy.

YouTube file names
YouTube file names

In looking at the screenshot above, it appears that FlipShare or YouTube does something to the file when it is uploaded via the FlipShare program.   The raw AVI file is changed into a file named Video 67, and for some reason it does not have a file extension.           This file name change could be the result of the compression that the FlipShare program uses, and the result is degraded audio that has a slight hiss.   I have no idea what causes this, but my only advice would be to upload your Flip videos via the YouTube website, rather than through the FlipShare program.

Bicycle handlebar mounts for cameras

I love to take my Flip Mino with me on bike rides, as I really like to get a little bit of footage while riding.   The only problem is trying to hold a camera with one hand while steering the bike with the other.   While I think I’m skilled enough to do this for a short period of time, those that love me have asked that I refrain from this behavior, or risk revoking my bicycle license (or wors).     I’ve since been looking for ways to make   or purchase a camera mount for my handlebar, and here are some things I’ve found.

Flip makes a product called the Action Mount, but I’ve read that it can be a little difficult to use and is a bit unstable.   I’ll likely use one of the methods above (or a combination of them) to build a mount for my road bike.

Seven things you should know about Flip Cameras

via Resource Shelf, I found this nice article about Flip Cameras from Educause.

7 Things You Should Know About Flip Camcorders

Flip video devices are small, inexpensive, digital camcorders. For about the price of a low-end digital camera, the Flip offers up to an hour of video from an easy-to-use, self-contained device. Because of its simplicity and affordability, the Flip allows virtually anyone to be a producer of video content. For educators, these small camcorders facilitate visual learning, which is frequently more engaging than other kinds of instruction and can transcend language barriers. A video artifact can be a highly effective tool for assessment, and the Flip camcorders offer easy access to this medium.

+ Full Document (PDF; 137 KB)

I’ve had a Flip Camera since this summer, and I love the thing.   I take it on all my bike rides, as it fits easily in my jersey pocket.   I’ve recorded quite a few family videos with it, which I’m able to share with my friends and relatives very easily.   I’ve also taken a few videos with it that I use on my various library blogs and wikis.   While the camera is never going to produce George Lucas-like productions, I it is a very convenient way to shoot video and get it out to your users with very minimal effort.   While I have a much nicer digital video camera, with zoom and lots more bells and whistles, I rarely use it because the Flip camera is just so easy and convenient to use.   For more about the Flip Camera, visit the Flip website.   If you’d like to take a look at some of the videos I’ve created with my Flip, take a look at my page.

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