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A review of Flip's new NHL-branded HD camera

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A picture of an HD camera taken with a cell phone camera. Something is wrong here.
A picture of an HD camera taken with a cell phone camera. Something is wrong here.

If you read enough hockey blogs, or enough NHL propaganda, you likely have seen a few people talking about these new Flip HD cameras with NHL team branding. They debuted the other day, and Cisco offered me one with a Flyers logo on it if I agreed to write something about it. Since I use one of their competitors every single night at Flyers home games, I thought it'd be fun to compare the two products. 

So, perhaps the simplest test of two products: two videos of Danny Briere speaking after a game. The first was taken last night with the Flip minoHD seen in the photo above, and the second was taken with the Creative Vado HD following the Flyers 8-7 loss to Tampa back on November 18. Make sure you're viewing these at 720p to get the full effect.

Some thoughts after the jump.

To me, the Flip camera is better at every test. The video quality is slightly better than Creative's camera. The Flip is a bit more true to reality, while the Vado HD gives a bit of a yellow-ish tint. The Flip's audio quality is a lot better as well. Unfortunately, though, the audio quality might be too good.

There's a lot of ambient noise in the locker room after the game, and you can clearly hear equipment bags zipping up throughout the Briere video from last night. You can also hear cameras clicking and a ton of other voices and things, making Danny's voice difficult to hear at times. In the Creative video, there's the same amount of background noise but it doesn't get picked up by the camera's microphone.

Neither camera has an audio-in jack, so I'm unable to plug in a hand-held microphone to help cut down all that background noise. It's a bit frustrating, but in most instances, the Flip cams superior microphone will be plenty good enough to capture what you need. In an NHL locker room, though, it might be a case of the lesser mic being the better option.

Both camera's have essentially the same specs. They claim the same resolution, they each have those cool flip out USB connectors, and they each hold 4GB of memory, or an hour of video. Both have HDMI-out ports, and the Creative has an added A/V out port so you can pop your headphones in and listen if you want. The Flip doesn't offer that, but I don't think I've even used the option once on the Vado.

One pet peeve of the Flip: it's been in the case since I got it in the mail on Tuesday, minus the 30 or so minutes it was either in my pocket, in my hand, or next to my computer uploading after Wednesday night's game. The face (the side opposite the Flyers design) already has a bunch of scratches on it. That's obnoxious. The Vado has a pretty fine finish like the Flip, but I've been using it quite a bit this season and it only has a small scratch or two.

When it comes to price, the Creative Vado HD is a lot cheaper. It runs at $129 bucks (I got mine on Amazon for $80 or so, actually) while the Flip minoHD 4GB version runs at $179.

All in all, I'm not really sold on either camera in terms of which is better. The Flip is probably superior in terms of quality, but is it worth the extra price? Maybe the awesome Flyers logo sells you on the extra 50 bucks, who knows. Regardless, they both are awesome cameras and they would make a fantastic gift this year.