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Flip Video: One person’s design is another’s ridiculous annoyance

Recently, I bought my son a Flip Ultra video recorder so he could easily take and send videos of my new granddaughter.

If you haven’t seen the Flip video recorder yet, it’s a nifty little device about 4″ tall, 2″ wide and less than an inch thick. Their newest model (which the store didn’t have) is even smaller and thinner.

It has a flip out USB port to attach to your computer and the device appears as a hard drive so you can simply drag and drop videos from it to your system. Easy as pie. In fact, it even automatically installs its little viewer software when you first plug it in.

For a $149 device, it works great.

2 button presses turn it on and start recording, 1 more stops it. It’d be great for recording business processes for training purposes in your business, as well as putting instructional or marketing (etc) videos on your website.

There are a few gotchas though, and one is pretty Flippin’ annoying.

First: when the software is first installed, it also installs muvee (a movie editing program). It doesn’t ask if it can install it, or if you need it, it assumes you do. I don’t and that was a minor annoyance. In 1998, installing unneeded software was standard behavior. This, however, is 2008.

Second: and this is the big one – the Flip people decided to use some mysterious video codec (3ivx) that isn’t part of Windows, and that Windows Media Player doesn’t know about.

Result: Taking and distributing videos just went from easy as pie to a royal PITA. Now you must convert them to flash (.swf) using some other software – and only on the machine where you installed the Flip, since it has the codec installed when you plug in the Flip recorder to your computer’s USB port.

Sorry folks, but this isn’t as simple as falling down. It’s a pain in the rump roast. There’s a reason why software uses common standards: so that stuff like this doesn’t happen. Proprietary codecs are so 1998.

Oddly enough, the 3ivx codec was recently included in Apple iMovie, so hey, 15% of the free world can play the videos for free. How’s that for a viral marketplace?

Your business lesson? Making it drop dead easy for your clients doesn’t stop at 50%. The premise of these cameras is easy videoing and sharing. They got it half right. Don’t make the same mistake with your products and services.

Use standards when issues like this can appear. Set standards everywhere else.

One reply on “Flip Video: One person’s design is another’s ridiculous annoyance”

Not only is the codec a PITA, if you take video off the FLIP using any other program, you won’t get a text file that has to be on the device to know about the avi files. The result is, if you want to put the files back on the flip video, it won’t know about them without this other file. The software in the flip video device ought to be smart enough to read its’ own directory for contents, but DUH.

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