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A kid-friendly digital camera? Totally!

July 10th, 2009

Most of the child-size digital cameras out there are so basic they leave much to be desired, even for a three-year-old. The pictures are often low res, extremely out of focus and the camera doesn’t do much more than point and shoot. But VTech’s new KidiZoom digital camera is so cool yet so easy to use it makes my point-and-shoot look really lame.

The KidiZoom is consistently rated the best digital camera for kids on the market—can you say that about your camera? Not only is it easy to use and offer a ton of really fun features, it’s built to withstand…well, kids! My digital camera has been dropped, drooled on, manhandled so many times I’m surprised it hasn’t left me for good. The KidiZoom can take those sticky fingers, less-than-gentle hands and whatever else your kids can throw at it. It even has an interchangeable faceplate just for kicks!

The KidiZoom doesn’t just take photos. It also lets your kids make movies, edit photos by distorting them or adding frames and “stickers” and comes with three games. Yes, I said GAMES! I have yet to find a single game on my digital camera. And the included connector cable lets you and your kids watch a photo slide show or their movies on the TV or PC. Other cool things about this camera: 2.0 megapixel and 16MB built-in memory. Not bad for a bright orange and yellow, super chunky, bring-on-the-party kids’ digital camera!

VTech sent our George their KidiZoom digital camera; he was the perfect reviewer since he’s one of the main culprits behind the fingerprints left on my camera’s lens. We had his camera open, batteries charged and inserted within moments of its arrival. Not only did George love that it came in his favorite color orange, but he loved that it was his camera. That kid snapped away for hours, and when he wasn’t looking his oldest sister took over and became a videographer for the day. They had that camera and all its options figured out before I even cracked open the instruction book! I have yet to figure out how to put “stickers” on photos; perhaps they’ll show me some day.

The best thing about the KidiZoom is I don’t have to worry about what the heck the kids might do to the camera. It can take it! And it means hours of entertainment without the use of a TV remote. At less than $50 (on VTech’s site) I’m totally sold on VTech’s KidiZoom camera. I would’ve included George’s take on his new camera but he was asleep by the time I started writing this review. I was able to catch my oldest daughter, who manages to steal the camera away from her little brother whenever possible. Madison had this to say about the KidiZoom:

The Kidizoom camera is so cool! I like how you can, like, decorate the pictures with, like, stickers and stuff. I had a lot of fun taking pictures even though it wasn’t my camera…And the videos of myself were hilarious!

Something that entertains both my three-year-old and pre-teen? Priceless!—Emily

Flip goes the world!

July 3rd, 2009

Back in December I reviewed the Flip Mino from Flip Video. This little handheld video camera has had a permanent residence in my diaper bag or purse since I first used it. I loved that I could whip it out at a moment’s notice for those once-in-a-lifetime video opportunities like hula hooping with my girlfriend or the need-to-upload-quickly videos like those I did for MomDot’s America’s Next Top Blogger competition. But my Flip Mino has recently been relocated to the desk drawer to make room for what might not be the “supermodel” of Flip cameras but what is definitely my favorite: the Flip Ultra HD.

The company sent the Flip Ultra HD so I could compare it with the Mino. Plus, the Mino has received a lot of hype lately and for some reason the Ultra is not getting any attention. I’m happy to send some of the spotlight its way! The Flip Ultra HD has a lot of similarities to my Flip Mino but one big difference—those two important letters, H and D. Is the picture that much different? Check it out for yourself. Here’s the aforementioned hula hooping moment:

And here’s our recent Saturday morning spent at the Hot Air Balloon Festival on the 4th of July:

By the way, if you can’t tell the difference then you might want to make an appointment with your optometrist. The HD has a much prettier picture for sure, and get this, it has a place for you to attach an HDMI cable from the camera to your TV so your family doesn’t have to crowd around the computer monitor to watch the videos. Now THAT is cool! Because my Flip Mino is not HD, I’m kind of comparing peaches to nectarines, which isn’t really fair when looking at my two sample videos but what the heck! I had to show you the difference HD really does make on this camera.

For the sake of this review I’ll stick with comparing the Flip Ultra HD to the Flip Mino HD, so here’s what else I love about the Flip Ultra HD: I actually like the slightly thicker body; I find it’s easier to hold on to and more comfortable when navigating the controls on the top. I also like having actual buttons (of a sort) to push rather than the touch-sensitive buttons on the Mino. And that’s not all—these features pretty much make the Ultra my permanent favorite:

  • 8 GB of memory vs. 4 GB

  • 120 min. of recording time vs. 60 min.

  • 2” LCD screen with 960×240 resolution vs. 1.5” LCD screen with 528×132

The only thing that wasn’t totally superstar about the Flip Ultra HD is it took a bit longer to recharge than the Mino, but we’re talking twice the recording time, so it’s worth the wait!

I’m sure the Flip Mino HD has its benefits but the only one that comes to mind at this moment is size and weight. That half-inch difference in thickness when you’re talking about something this small does make a big difference, but since I’m toting around so much stuff anyway, the Flip Ultra HD suits me just fine. Of course, it has come in handy to have both the Mino and the Ultra, so I recommend buying one of each—and DEFINITELY go for the HD version.

By the way, I’m not kidding when I say, “Flip goes the world.” You know it’s big when Leslie Mills from Yanni Voices sees you backstage, recognizes your Flip camera and tells you she so totally wants one…—Emily

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…gotta get a Flip Mino!

December 15th, 2008

Flip MinoOkay, that was a bit on the cheesy side but I couldn’t help myself. I was sure “You’ll flip for the Flip Mino” had already been done so I decided to get a little creative. But don’t let the title of this review fool you. The Flip Mino is definitely not cheesy. In fact, it is so not cheesy it illicited a “Wow! That is pretty amazing!” from my husband, who loves all things tech and is not easily impressed.

What is the Flip Mino and why is it cool enough to catch my husband’s attention? (By the way, it had my attention when it showed up in all its tiny sleek glory.) The Flip Mino is a pocket-sized camcorder that allows you to record with just a touch of your thumb. Its memory can hold up to 60 minutes of high-quality video. No need to replace the batteries; this baby has a rechargeable lithium ion battery and charges using your USB port. You get over 4 hours of recording per charge! I loved the flip-out USB arm because it meant one less time I’d have to mess with a USB cord.

I am totally one for reading directions, to my husband’s chagrin, but I thought I’d try the Flip Mino without them. I powered it up and was recording within seconds. I did have to browse the directions to make sure I was fully utilizing the on-screen features of the Flip Mino, but I had it down in no time. I did notice the tripod mount but I’m not sure I’ll ever use it. For me the Flip Mino is all about ease of use and impromptu videos.

Flip MinoWhile writing this review I discovered a couple other features: a “child safe” mode to prevent accidental deletions of clips; 2x digital zoom (though like most digital zooms it leaves something be desired); 1.5” color high-brightness (transflective) display for super-clear viewing in bright sunlight (I did notice it was a lot easier to record our kids’ snowman with the Flip Mino than it was to take a picture of it with our digital camera); silent mode for recording in sensitive situations (wow, never thought about that…opens up a whole new world of possibilities!); and a TV connector cable so you can watch videos on television.

Now that we have the Flip Mino’s specs out of the way, here’s what I really thought of this pocket-sized camcorder. It TOTALLY ROCKS Yes, it was simple to power on, record and even delete videos on the Flip itself, but when I plugged the USB arm into my computer the magic really happened. I kept my fingers crossed it would recognized the “new hardware” and then the Flip would download its own video software. The finger crossing worked because that’s just what it did. Within just a few minutes my videos were on screen inside the FlipShare window. It was so easy to navigate I didn’t once need to read the directions. I saved the videos to my computer (just a couple clicks of the mouse) and even cut a few seconds off the end of one.

Flip MinoYou can advance the movie in super slow motion, frame by frame, and then even take a snapshot of a frame and save it as a JPEG on your computer. I gave that a go and both my husband and I were impressed with the quality of the photo (seen at right). It wasn’t the clearest picture we’ve seen but for a tiny camcorder and only 2x digital zoom, it was pretty nifty. Of course my next step was to see how easy it was to upload a video to YouTube, and there it was, right at the top of the FlipShare window: “Share” I clicked, dragged the pointer to “Online” and then “YouTube…” and clicked again. A window popped up so I could log in; I logged in, clicked “Next” and it started uploading the video. After a few minutes, it was live on YouTube. I even IM’d my parents the link so they could check it out. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the video on YouTube (it looked 100x better on our computer) but it was still a kick to be able to share it so quickly! And just so you know I’m totally serious about the YouTube thing, here’s our little girl in all her musical glory (and you don’t have to watch the whole thing…I won’t take it personally):

Besides uploading to sites like YouTube, AOL and MySpace you can share your video via email. FlipShare even has editing tools so you can create custom movie mixes with music. How cool is that!

The Flip Mino costs around $180 but I think it’s totally worth it for this little guy. (You can actually get a Flip MinoHD for only $50—might be worth it.) It’s small enough for me to keep it in my diaper bag without taking up too much needed space. How many times have you been somewhere and wished you had a camera? Those cell phone cameras don’t always cut it. Now you can capture that “did he just stick a french fry up his nose” moment on video (moving picture and sound)...and then share it with the world.—Emily

DIY Image Stabilizer for your Camera!

February 5th, 2008

This video was sent in to me and I couldn’t resist posting it for everyone. So many of our community members are designers and moms with a love for photography. I think we all must take a million pictures each month and having something handy like this would be ideal for impromptu photo shoots. Enjoy and let me know if you try this. – Daria

$1 Image Stabilizer For Any Camera – Lose The TripodThe best free videos are right here

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