I’m heading home from Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Defending the American Dream Summit, held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel this weekend.  I spoke to the general audience about tax reform, but spent most of my time on Bloggers Row, which had comfortable digs in a convenient location — but unfortunately, spotty Internet access.  However, this was not as much of a problem as one might think.  The situation allowed me more time to interact with other bloggers, watch speeches, and use my new Flip Ultra HD video camera to conduct interviews.

I bought the camera this week as a backup for my normal Ustream setup, but I was a little skeptical of flip-style cameras.  A couple of years ago I bought a less-expensive camera and was not able to use it as I’d hoped to get good quality recordings of live events.  It turned out to be less rugged than I had hoped as well, and the audio was especially a problem.

The Flip Ultra HD performed well on all counts.  I did interviews with people in noisy and quiet environments, and the audio holds up better than I’d thought.  The picture quality is good even in low-light environments, which my traditional camcorder doesn’t handle as well.  The Flip’s size makes it extremely convenient; it fits easily into a shirt pocket, and it’s light enough that holding it steady for several minutes is not a problem.  I could have purchased a rechargeable battery for it, but I ran the camera through the entire conference on two AA batteries and it’s still going.

The Flip Ultra HD comes with its own software, although users can simply transfer the videos off as files in Windows when connecting it to the USB port through its swivel arm.  (That arm worries me; I’d rather have a USB port instead of the arm, as it would make it work around other USB connections on the laptop, which became a problem with my network and power cables.  I’m also wondering whether that will break long before the camera outlives its usefulness otherwise.)  The Flip software works very well, connecting me to my YouTube account and handling the upload task within the application.  It also has an easy interface for splitting videos and doing some other basic editing tasks.

I paid $162 for the Flip Ultra HD, with its 8 GB internal memory and 120 minutes of video recording capability, which makes it a great deal, especially for bloggers.  It won’t replace a full-featured HD camcorder, but if you don’t need that much power and have to travel light, the Flip Ultra HD is a great bargain and a solid performer so far.  I’ll be at Western CPAC in two weeks, and I expect to give it an even harder workout then.