The value of good enough



People talk about HD and high-end video cameras and the need for higher-speed broadband, but there's a lot of "good enough" content playing on YouTube. The video quality isn't something that will work out the full capabilities of your 42 inch 1080i widescreen TV, but the content and presentation are sufficient to provide satisfaction.

I wanted to have a way to poke around with online video, a method to record a couple of minutes of life and then quickly edit and post it. My first go-to thought was to pick up a $300 to $400 mini-DVD or hard drive video camera. You get the zoom, you get hours of video, easy data portability via disk or cable and the option for fun home movies outside of business hours. You also get weight, the need to drag around data and charging cables, and extra disks if you go the mini-DVD route.

Plan B was inspired by David Pogue's review of the Flip video recorder. Flip is about the size of a mid-sized digital camera without a folding lens, lightweight, carries all of the software you might need onboard, has a pop-out USB prong so you can plug it into a Mac or PC so there's no video cables to futz with, powered by a pair of AA batteries for up to 2 hours, and it will store up to 60 minutes of recorded video. Very KISS. Flip has even thoughtfully put a screw mount on the bottom so you can plunk it on a tripod or a folding stick and do a lightweight imitation of Les Stroud on Survivorman. I've been lugging it back and forth to work over the past week and haven't even noticed the weight.

Flip saves videos to an .AVI file, with a minute of video taking up around 11 Mbps. Not bad and more than reasonable for meeting YouTube's 10 minutes/100 Mbps upload role.

Now, this isn't an HD-based solution, it doesn't have any bells and whistles on it, like say GPS-location stamping, and Flip doesn't even have a port to add on an external microphone. Other than the USB port and the screw mount, there's a single open plug for putting video on the TV and that's it.

It's not the best solution, but it is good enough. And that's the way a lot of people need to start thinking about online video. Ultimately, you'd like to have HD and a lot of other features, but right now it is good enough to start using and making money.-- Doug

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