Pure Digital’s year was more awesome than yours. The undisputed king of the cheap pocket handycam sold more than a million units, raked in a reported $100 million (double the company’s take in 2007), and has been lavished with praise. Take benevolent dinosaur Newsweek — those guys compared the Flip Ultra to the Razr and — are you sitting down, Stevie J.? — the iPod. So when the company unleashed the Mino, its first flashy upgrade six months ago, we had a lot to say. The short version: the Mino was smaller, lighter, considerably cooler-looking and definitely more expensive. But we found little to no improvement in the picture quality, focus or zoom which, last time we checked, are kinda vital when you’re shooting video.
Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get filming with the Mino HD. The pocket cam’s slick 3.3-ounce body is identical to the old Mino, but it knocked up a notch to shoot in 720p. No doubt, the fruit of the Mino HD’s loins is sweeter, brighter and juicier than anything we’ve managed to pluck from the plain old Mino or first-gen Ultra. Side by side footage of a Mino HD and Ultra revealed an astounding boost in color, contrast and clarity that seems to justify the jump in price ($230 instead of the $180 Mino and $150 Ultra). But don’t take our word for it. Peep the incredible detail in the red wood deck:
it’s our hunch the difference lies with the sensor and that Pure Vision may simply be doubling pixels to get to 720p, instead of capturing what vid-tards commonly refer to as ‘true hd.’” Whatever the case, in natural, bright and low light, too, the drastic difference remained crystal clear. The Mino HD comes with a few other improvements, too, namely 4GB of internal memory (up from 2GB, though that’s necessary with bigger, higher res files). But could feature creep and price gouging get the best of Pure Digital?
We used the Mino HD alongside the $180 Kodak Zi6, a slightly bulkier but still pocketable HD cam that scored a solid 8 out of 10 in our fall Test. Turns out not all pocket-size HD cams are created equal. While the steadiness and sound are relatively comparable, note just how vivid the colors and contrast are with the Zi6 (especially the yellows, reds and white parking space lines).
The Zi6 won elsewhere, too. The SD slot delivers up to eight times the memory. The 2.4-inch screen makes playback and sharing videos much more enjoyable. And you get the option of 60fps, a no-brainer for us. Oh, and all for the same price as the standard Mino!
With the Ultra, Pure Digital has clearly won the battle for the bottom, you know, all those n00bsumers looking to trade confusing features and fidelity for thrifty convenience. But now the melee for the middle is on like Donkey Kong. The competition for semi-discerning users who demand quality and some features for a price that’s just as nice is going to really heat up this year. And so far, at least in our eyes, Pure Digital’s just not doing all that hot.