Flip Cam Alternative in JVC Picsio?

A month ago while on vacation in Florida I discovered I had forgotten my Canon HV30. I panicked.

I searched my laptop case (a giant man purse) for a Flip cam to hold me over. Note how easy it is to say “flip cam” instead of “small video camera.” No luck. On a trip to Best Buy I look at the Flips, but I continue to be frustrated by Flip’s price rigidity. Instead of bringing any legacy model close to the $100 point (I’m the guy that would own five of them for that price), they keep adding features and pushing past the $200. At $200 it’s a rival to larger but much better $300-$500 cameras. At $100 (or even $150) it’s an impulse buy and almost disposable.

Having been duped by Sylvania’s “Poor Man’s Flip Cam,” I would not go that route again.

So I tried out the JVC Picsio because of a significant sale ($150 if I recall, off a $199 ARP) and the super strong endorsement from the Best Buy dude. Not Billy this time. I was in Florida.

A worthy competitor to Flip in my book, but not according to Amazon raters...

Pros:

  • As small as Flip, but I believe the picture quality is as good or better. You can go 720 or 1080, and in good lighting it looks like a $500 camera.
  • I was afraid the JVC Picsio wouldn’t play nicely with my Mac, and I’d need software to convert. Surprisingly the files were .mov files and ready to roll into iMovie.
  • It takes photos and they’re pretty decent. I’ve learned not to get lured by megapixel promises… consider these pretty nice for a discount video camera ($150 would get you far more in a digital still camera).
  • You can find the price online even lower (see Amazon).
  • It’s very small and goes in the pocket easily. We took some cool swamp footage I can’t remember if I posted! Wait- I didn’t, did I?
  • I like to toggle between photo and video camera easily. It confuses the victim, however.

Cons:

  • It got slammed on Amazon’s reviews, so I wouldn’t have purchased it had I known that. But my experience wasn’t as severe as theirs.
  • No USB plug: you’d be surprised how that seemingly trivial miss can be so frustrating.
  • The playback sound (camera’s speaker) it almost inaudible. Like the Flip, no external mics welcome. Indoors without ambience, it did well. Cars not so much.
  • The power button is hard to use (quite annoying to dig fingernail multiple times to turn off/on), and the navigation is more complex. It began recording in my pocket a few times.
  • Apparently when the battery dies, it’s a paperweight.
  • Some people claim the images are not as steady, but again I was happy with what I got for $150 on an impulse buy.

Would I buy it again? I suppose if I didn’t already own a bunch of Flips (the Hello Kitty one is still my fav), I might have instead sprung for the Flip Mino to give it a try. As I recall, Greg Benson (mediocrefilms) shot this Yearbook parody video with it (amazing). For another $50 or $100 I’d like to see how it compares directly to the JVC Picsio and other portable cameras.

Here’s some footage I shot with it. What do you think?

Bottom Line:

  • I am surprised at Flip’s ability to dominate the market and hold on high prices ala Mac. It’s a great innovation, but I keep expecting for a Canon, JVC, Sony or other manufacturer to come out with a $100 Flip killer. Not yet.
  • As long as Flip keeps innovating (and allowing older models to hit that $100ish level) it may continue to dominate the ultra portable market, and I noticed the bold advertising campaign has continued even post Cisco¬†acquisition. I do wish it would use actual amateur video in its ads instead of the awkwardly over produced simulated amateur clips. Again Flip resembles Mac in its advertising: slick, cool, musical.

P.S. If you Flip peeps wants to loan me the newest (UltraHD or this brushed-steal gen 2 Mino) for a head-to-head trial against the JVC Piscio I’ll gladly take the challenge and return the camera. I’d shoot simultaneous¬†shots of the Flip and JVC (recording in the same conditions at same time), then post them on my daily vlogs on YouTube (unclenalts). Just hit me at kevinnalts at gmail (if I don’t reply immediately, don’t hesitate shooting again).

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

6 thoughts on “Flip Cam Alternative in JVC Picsio?”

  1. Nalts, you should check out the Kodak zi8. External Mic input and it takes SD cards.

  2. JVC Australia actually did a promotion/competition for the Picsio December in 2009 on YouTube and I was fortunate enough to win one. I think most of my concerns with the camera are the same concerns I’d have with any ultra portable camera (especially with regards to camera shake – the novelty of a ‘portable’ camera wanes if you have to transport a tripod around too). Though as a non-Mac user I struggled with the MOV format which confused me since friends have sent me Quicktime movies to use in collabs before and I had never had a problem before. (Is there something unique about their particular use of the format/codec?)

    The thing that did really impress me though was the beautiful still photographs it takes with available light.

  3. I had the JVC before the Flip Ultra that I have now. The reason I bought the Flip was I lost the JVC but your feelings on the complexity and sound are pretty spot on. I loved the price point but it was just little frustration after little frustration with the JVC. Now with the Flip it’s easier, sound I thing is a little better, and USB connection makes the world go round. The only thing I wish I could do was change in what HD it recorded in because for whatever reason I’m always running out of recording time lol. Oh and the ability to replace the batteries with regular double A’s was huge too!!

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