Flip's Mino offers a 1.5 inch LCD and smooth YouTube uploads. It uses touch-sensitive controls rather than physical buttons.
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George Orwell missed a key element of technological progress and its impact on society when he predicted in his book 1984 that Big Brother would monitor society via video cameras installed and controlled by government.
As it turns out, we do a pretty good job of monitoring ourselves with Webcams, surveillance video, and cell phones. But the art form is well on its way toward ubiquity with the advent of a new breed of video cameras that records better video quality than most cell phones, at the expense of real-time upload.
This category of video cameras started with the ultimately pocketable Flip about a year ago and has expanded to today's lineup of five competitors that share the same general form factor. The main distinction of these cameras is their small size and their production of YouTube-ready video clips. Their size makes it easy to slip one in a pocket alongside your cell phone, ever ready to record a quick video clip.
At the same time, the genre has expanded beyond simple convenience to include higher quality and more features. The most basic units shoot VGA quality (640 x 480) at 30 frames per second, while some capture high-definition video at 1020i and 60 frames per second. And while the majority of the units maintain their cell-phone size, at least one, the JVC GZ-MS100, has gone to a more traditional video camera form factor in order to add features like optical zoom and auto-focus lens.
These cameras are designed specifically for online sharing of video clips. To that end, video quality, storage capacity, battery life, and even optical quality are less important than those in standard video cameras. Conversely, portability, ease of use, and ease of posting the resulting videos all rank high on the list of important features.
Each of these cameras records to flash memory, rather than disk or tape. Some have only their own internal memory, while others allow the addition of secure digital or secure digital high-capacity cards. And some require that you supply your own flash memory, offering no internal recording capacity at all. We prefer the device offer at least a minimum of internal recording capacity and also provide the option to add memory as needed. See a table of video camera specs.
All connect via USB, with the connector permanently housed within the camera. Essentially, you just plug the camera into your PC and then upload your videos.
Your choice of camera will likely be dictated by whether you favor the convenience of carrying a very small device or want a feature only available in a particular unit.