/ Technology

Is there room in your pocket for a pocket camcorder?

Flip pocket camcorder

Flip’s arrival marked the inception of pocket camcorders in my mind. Some may argue that others were around first, but for me the quick-fire, on-YouTube-in-seconds camcorder craze began with Flip – and so it may end.

Cisco Systems, the company behind Flip pocket camcorders, recently announced that it was closing down the Flip branch of its business.

This leaves me wondering whether the company that leapt into a yawning gap in the market has also jumped out before it has fully snapped shut.

Flips and phones

Before Flip came about in 2006, families and friends could document their lives in moving images with regular camcorders, later playing them back on their TVs. But then along came YouTube – here image quality needn’t match your 32-inch telly. Instead, speed became the new priority and so in dashed the Flip.

What the original Flip pocket camcorder lacked in picture quality and control (there wasn’t even an optical zoom), it made up for in portability and ease of use. The Flip could be put into a bag or pocket, pulled out and switched on in a jiffy, and then have its content uploaded to YouTube through a PC via the Flip’s rather handy USB arm.

Though there was one thing holding it back – the need for a PC. And then, right on cue, in walked the smartphone. Boasting its 3G, no-need-for-wires internet access, smartphones spelled impending doom for the pocket camcorder.

Ok, so phones had had video modes for sometime, but it’s been their improvements in picture quality, ease of editing on the fly and uploading to YouTube or Facebook that have been crucial. And one recent development has forced pocket camcorders into losing the fight – dual-core processors.

Two cores are better than one

This January we were introduced to the world’s first dual-core phone, LG’s Optimus 2X. But the technology is becoming de rigueur and is likely to feature in the forthcoming iPhone 5 – a sure sign that all others will follow.

And it’s the dual-core processor’s ability to handle Full-HD video (something that had previously distinguished pocket camcorders from smartphones) that may be the final death knell in the pocket camcorder’s coffin.

So there’s just no need for a second device, when one can do it all. MP3 players serve as a great example, since more people are switching to mobile phones for their music fix. In reflection of this, Which? will test around 25 MP3 players this year – just half the number of recent previous years.

There may still be a quirky twist in this story as new features hit pocket camcorders, such as the 360 degree lens adaptor we’ve seen on the Sony Bloggie, or Panasonic’s waterproof models. But I feel the curtain’s beginning to well and truly close on the pocket camcorder’s 15 minutes of fame.


As far as I’m concerned – Quality of image is paramount – so I’m sticking to my sort of pocketable (it fits into a large pocket) camcorder that uses mini discs – quick – simple – very editable. Speed is totally immaterial – I’m not interested in transmitting poor quality images anywhere.

The quality of the images produced are good enough to show friends on a TV – or produce super memories of pets and holidays..

I like the idea of capturing video on my phone as I seldom have my camera with me when interesting things happen. The downside of using the phone is that the reflective quality of the screen can make it difficult to see what you’re shooting!

I really can’t see why anyone would need an MP3 player if they have a micro SD card in their phone.