Saturday, November 29, 2008

The "Flip Ultra" is a Flop, at least for me

I'm sorry to say it, but I must: the Flip Ultra sucks. I posted last month about the new Flip Ultra mini digital camcorder. It was a clever concept, and at a rather low price. But now I think I know why the price was so low. There may be quality control issues. Read on, then decide for yourself.

I tried to use it the other day, to film our canary singing. When I turned the camera on, the logo appeared in the window... and that was it. It locked up, the controls were totally non-responsive. Even the power switch would not work to turn it off, I had to open it up and take the batteries out.

I hadn't used it a lot, but by now it was past 30 days since I bought it, which is the usual time frame for returning something to I called Amazon's customer service, and said the camera was defective, and that I wanted a replacement or a refund. I was asked, which would I prefer? I said the refund. I was tempted to try another unit, but since it broke within such a short time, with such little use, I was not confident that the quality of the product was reliable.

Even when it was working, the control button on the back seemed a little bit insensitive, not as responsive as it should be, and I didn't want to take a chance with a second unit. At $100 plus dollars, it may be inexpensive for a video camera, but that's not chump change either. And if a camera doesn't work, what good is it?

Amazon emailed me a shipping label to use to send it back. There was the usual blah blah blah with it, about how they may not refund me the full amount, etc. I will send it back and see what happens, and then report the final result here.

I normally don't buy new items like this until they have been out for a while and have a proven track record. But I saw it on sale, and the web site on Amazon had over 1,000 customer reviews, most saying it was very good. Yet now with hindsight, I think the people posting had just got the camera, and were impressed, just like I was. Who knows what will happen with their camera's with TIME and USAGE? I was too impatient, and should have waited longer, to see what happened to other people first.

What a disappointment. I WOULD be willing to pay a bit more, for something reliable, of better quality. Cheaply built electronics are SO not worth it. If what happened to me was a fluke, well, only time will tell. But I won't buy another such device until it has a more established track record of reliability.

UPDATE, 12-22-08:

I received an email yesterday saying they refunded my credit card by $95.61. I had paid about $119.00. They are keeping the difference for "restocking charges", not only for the camera, but for restocking the "free" peripherals they included with it.

I'm not entirely pleased. Why do I have to pay restocking charges for something defective? It's not like I was returning it because I didn't like it. It's not like they can sell it again. But at this point, I'm glad to get most of my money back. I don't want to waste any more of my time trying to get the rest back, so I'll be thankful for what I got. And I won't be buying anymore no-name cameras from Or from anyone else, either.


Walker said...

Almost bought one of those myself... Until now!

Chas said...

Yes, I actually thought "I'd better post about this before Walker buys one!"

Maybe I was just unlucky with mine. Out of the 1,000 reviews on Amazon, I think there was only 3 or 4 that said it stopped working or malfunctioned. But who knows what happened with the rest of them, eventually?

I would have been quite happy with it if it kept on working. But it didn't, and I think the lesson for me here is, when it comes to cameras, only buy brand names with established reputations for quality and reliability.

Anonymous said...

I was just looking through various internet selections on Flip when I found this. I have to say, even though it's from about a month or so ago, I am very surprised. I have a Flip Mino, and a lady friend of mine has a Flip Ultra. Both are working quite well. Currently, Flip is becoming a brand name with positive connotations. I own three cameras: My Flip, a Sony DVD Handycam, and a Sony Prosumer Hi-Def HVR-A1U with (used by many professionals.) I love my Flip, and considering I do a lot a video work (never with that little DVD cam anymore--that's just for family) I realize I can't bring my pro cam everywhere with me, so the Flip makes up for "on the road" shots, such as if I am walking on the street and something cool happens... like say... a meteor crashes in the middle of the street. : ) Very surprised by your response to this camera. However, I am 17, ignorant, and tend to jump on argument like a wildfire. I urge you to reconsider Flip, but I see you asked for the refund which only came partially. I'm sorry that happened.

Chas said...

I'm glad yours works. I can only go by my own experience. I would have liked mine if it kept working.

Time will tell how good they are. If they keep working for most people, then I guess I just got a lemon. If they get a reputation for being reliable, I may try one again some day.