In addition to a tony Nikon D40, I bought myself a Flip Video camcorder for Christmas.
It’s a cheap, pocket-sized point and shoot vido camera weighing in at 4.8 ounces. It captures 30 fps VGA video — suitable for YouTube but not full-screen TV.
I wanted one for posting concert and family videos to YouTube. I have a high-end Sony video camera we use for the important stuff. But the ability to conveniently carry a point and shoot video camera that holds 60 minutes and runs on two AA batteries for $100 bucks was too good to pass up.
The Flip Video has a handy, built-in USB stick that plugs directly into a powered USB port. It has built-in software for downloading, viewing, etc., but it also functions like a hard drive (just like other digital cameras).
The first test run pulling videos off the camera was a little rocky. My Windows XP laptop took some time installing the avi/divx codecs for the Flip Video’s on-board program, so I got bored and tried to drag/copy the video files on my desktop. Those timed out. Eventually the program loaded and let me save the files onto my hard drive. Awesome.
But since that first time, unfortunately, I’ve had two days of headaches trying to get my Windows XP laptop and Windows XP desktop to recognize the camera, let alone pull videos off it.
My desktop can’t recognize the camera at all. It says, “One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it.”
My laptop recognizes the camera, assigns it a drive and even AutoPlays the software, but then the entire process crashes and/or times out. I downloaded the firmware update, but was notified it already has the most up-to-date software.
Flip Videos onsite Q&A isn’t helping much. I submitted a help ticket and will let you know what happens.
You know, , but I bet they made sure her’s worked perfectly.
UPDATE 12/31/07 2:40 PM:
Flip Video customer service are sending me a return shipping label. “We will then make all necessary repairs and return the camcorder to you. We will attempt to recover any videos on the camcorder.” I’ve asked them for an estimate of how long this will take. I’m super bummed. I wanted to take it to Vegas next week. Hope it’s back in time!
I’ll keep updating this post as events unfold.
After three days, I got an e-mail back from customer service with a UPS label attachment stating: “Upon receipt of your camcorder, we will do our utmost to retrieve any videos you may have and make all necessary repairs. If we are unable to repair your camera, we will issue you a replacement. We will return your camera as quickly as possible.”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the estimate I was looking for, PLUS the label they sent was UPS 3-Day select, which is just poor customer service when your product fails on a customer.
So I took the camera back to Best Buy today and exchanged for a new one. I’ll let you know if that one craps out, too.
Here’s the e-mail I wrote Flip Video customer service after getting a brand NEW Flip Video camera and having it crap out again:
“Yesterday I exchanged my defective Flip Video Classic 60 min for a new one at Best Buy. This camera also synced to my computer just once and now is corrupt. I just got off the phone with Robert with your 24/7 customer service who was trying to be helpful but unable to shed any light on why your cameras don’t work on either of my brand new Windows XP machines.
Apparently I’m having the same exact problem as the Ultra Series where the camera’s software times out when copying videos to the hard drive and then cannot be recognized by Windows Explorer. He says he hasn’t heard of this problem with the Classic series, so I obviously am the exception to the rule with two cameras messing up on two machines in less than a week. From reading message boards, I can actually see I’m not the only one.
Robert was unable to help beyond simple troubleshooting problems and said your technical support has been overwhelmed by customers plagued with problems, so I am unable to speak with someone directly.
I would like someone to call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX to discuss what the issues on my two computers could be that the camera will start downloading videos, crash (time out) and then not be able to be recognized. I deleted the divx file starting with the number 3 and was unable to locate the Muvee file he said should be visible within Add/Remove Programs. Perhaps you can tell me where to manually delete the muvee driver. Robert did not know if it was necessary to manually delete the “My Flip Video Prefs” and “My Flip Video Library” folders, but I went ahead and tried it. Robert also told me if I was able to get Windows Explorer to recognize the camera enough to format the drive, it may allow the camera to reinstall itself — albeit erasing all my videos yet again.”
Before I sent the e-mail I booted up a different profile of Windows XP and tried that. I was able to get the Flip drive to come up and copy off two videos (of 25) before it crashed again. Then suddenly I got a strange error to the effect, “This device requires a high-speed USB drive and there are some available but not the one you are using.”
A-ha! Turns out the USB ports on the front of my desktop tower are not high-speed. I unplugged my printer, mouse and other USB cords in the back of my computer to get the Flip to fit nestled amongst the wires.
It worked perfectly! So I never sent the above e-mail, although I do think Flip should have known to offer this as a possible solution to the above issue. Also, their customer service comes across like a teenager sitting in a warehouse getting paid minimum wage to frustrate customers. I’ll see if I can track down Flip Video at CES next week and get a real live human to weigh in on my experience.