What is this thing? It's called--or will soon be called--the Flip, and if I'm any judge of such things, I think it'll sell like jianbing if and when it's introduced here. I was invited along by Jim Boettcher of Focus Ventures to see the Flip (currently being sold as "Point & Shoot" by U.S.-based Pure Digital Technologies) demo'd by Taylor Libby, an impressively fluent Mandarin-speaker from Seattle who's plotting China market entry for Pure Digital. It's priced very reasonably, listing at about $130 though you can pick 'em up cheaper on Amazon and at lots of retail outlets.
Think of it as the Lomo of video cameras--it's light, compact, and ideal for guerilla vloggers. It could get a cult-like following the way Lomo has. Or then again, depending on how it's marketed, it might just take with new parents who always want to have a video recorder handy.
It's ODM'd in Taiwan, not surprisingly, and has been on the market in the U.S. since fall of last year.
The cool things about it: it's the size of an iPod, nice form factor, records up to an hour of DVD-quality video; has the most incredibly simple interface imaginable--no on-screen UI, no menus, just super intuitive buttons; has that flip-up USB arm you can see in the pic that plugs right into your Mac or PC; and has all the software onboard--installed in seconds on your machine. The sound quality's surprisingly good. Oh, and on the software interface, you can upload your videos at a click to either YouTube or Grouper. It also comes with a simple auto editor that intelligently identifies highlights from selected clips and stitches them together. Don't take it from me: Walter Mossberg, the tech guy at the WSJ, praised it saying "stunningly simple to use... quality is remarkable."
Drawbacks? No SD card slot, but I can live without that because of the USB, and I suppose some will complain that there's no still photo capability. (That would have spoiled the simplicity of the interface, Taylor argued convincingly). This sucker's going with me everywhere and may even inspire me to start vlogging. I'll take it to my show tonight and try it out.
Oh, the handsome guy in the video screen in the pic is Tony Lo, a good VC friend of mine who lives in Shanghai. Tony just got married earlier this year. Congrats, Tony!