Cheap Camcorder Face-Off: Creative Vado vs. Flip Video Ultra

It doesn’t take a camcorder expert to see that the new Vado pocket-sized camcorder from Creative ($99 for 2GB) is strikingly similar to the wildly popular Pure Digital Flip Camcorder (Ultra Series) ($149 for 2GB). Though Flip is rumored to be coming out with a new, smaller “mino” version of its camera, we couldn’t wait to put the older Flip Ultra up against its newest and fiercest rival. Each camcorder has its own unique features, and both offer simple video recording and transfer capabilities, but only one will emerge as the winner. We’ll be bringing you our full review soon of the Creative Vado, but here are our first hands-on impressions. Check out how the Vado fares, round-by-round, against its older rival.


Creative Vado: The design of the silver (also available in pink) Creative Vado is admittedly cleaner and more stylish than the Flip Video Ultra. The silver covering is soft to the touch and the buttons are easily to manipulate. The 3.9 x2.2 x 0.6-inch Vado is thinner and lighter than the Flip; it easily slid into a jean pocket and it didn’t cause an extra bulge. A swinging USB port tucks into the bottom of the device. The Vado’s menus are easy to navigate and the selection of buttons on the device are the same as the ones found on the Flip. There is a four way D-pad with a record button in the center, a play button, and a trash/delete button. Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra: The 4.1 x 2.2 x 1.2-inch Flip can no longer claim to be the world’s simplest or smallest camcorder. Next to the Vado the Flip Ultra looks like a plus size model. Our white Flip Ultra looks simple, but it lacks that sleeker style of the Vado. The Flip’s menus are simple enough for a novice user; however, the placement of the record button in the middle of the D-Pad is hard to press; we mistakenly hit the surrounding buttons when we simply meant to record a video. We didn’t find the same problem with the Vado since the center record button is raised a bit more. Winner: Creative Vado Creative’s Vado is hands-down the more stylish and pocket-friendly camcorder. Though the Flip has a simple look to it we find it to be chunky and the buttons to be finicky.


Creative Vado: One of the first things you notice about the Vado is its large 2-inch, 640 x 240 resolution LCD viewfinder, which depicts a very clear and wide image of the recorded shot. Holding up to 2GB or about 120 minutes of video, the camera captures at 640 x 480 resolution and 30 frames per second. The 2x digital zoom lets you focus in on specific parts of the scene. It also captures in an easily-editable MPEG4 AVI format. Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra: Compared to the Vado, the Flip’s 1.5-inch, 528 x 132 resolution LCD viewfinder is smaller and doesn’t allow you to see as wide of a shot. The Flip similarly captures 30 frames per second at a 640 x 480 resolution, includes a 2x digital zoom, and records in an easily editable MPEG4 AVI format. Winner: Creative Vado The winner is clear: the $99 Vado has all the same specs as the $149 Flip Video Ultra with a larger LCD.


Creative Vado: Creative includes a rechargeable battery, which is rated for 130 minutes. Since there is no AC adapter included you must charge the battery with it in the camera and attach it to a PC. However, a power adapter with charging station is priced at $29.99 Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra: The Flip is powered by 2 AA batteries and its rated life is 150 minutes. Winner: Tie In this round, it comes down to a user’s personal preference. The Flip is more apropos for those that don’t travel with a PC and are willing to keep investing in AA batteries. The Vado, on the other hand, can easily be recharged over and over again but you need to carry a notebook with you on your travels or invest in a separate charger.

Video Quality

We tested the video quality of each camera by filming the same three scenarios. Creative Vado: All of the Vado’s videos were shot in its High Quality setting. The first video was shot of a moving carousel at New York City’s Bryant Park. The video captured on a sunny day was clear, but was over exposed. The top right of the video was full of glare and we couldn’t make out the details on top of the carousel since it appeared washed out. The second video we shot was of a fountain with surrounding statuettes. The water in the video appeared blurry and the details of the statue weren’t all that vivid. The third video, a clip of a robotic panda speaking, was shot indoors in low light. The video captured the moving object, but the panda’s bright blue eyes were blurry. In this video and others, the zoom on the Vado seemed abrupt and didn’t smoothly capture the scene. Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra: The same videos shot with the Flip Video Ultra were clearer and more detailed across the board. The video of the carousel lacked the overexposure found on the Vado. We could easily make out the details on the top of the adorned carousel; we could even tell that it included a blue and white cloud motif. In the fountain video, the water and all the colors appear more clearly and with greater contrast. The water in the video appeared more real, and the statue’s detailing was easy to make out. The video of the robotic panda wasn’t all that much better than the Vado, but the eyes of the panda didn’t appear with as much glare. In addition, the zoom in this video was less abrupt than the zoom on the Vado videos, something we noticed across all of the videos we shot. Carousel Scene: Vado vs. Flip [flv:/flvs/Carosel1.flv 320 240]

Fountain Scene: Vado vs. Flip

[flv:/flvs/Fountain1.flv 320 240]

Robot Panda Scene: Vado vs. Flip

[flv:/flvs/Panda1.flv 320 240] Winner: Flip Video Ultra The Flip Video Ultra’s video quality topped that of the Creative Vado in each scenario. We were more impressed with the Ultra’s contrast and the vividness of the colors. In addition, there was not as much over exposure in outdoor shots. Though the Vado’s videos were decent, the Flip Video’s recordings were consistently clearer and brighter. Check out all the videos and see for yourself.

Overall Verdict

The Vado won more rounds of this fight, including specs and design, but when it comes to shooting video, the Vado must bow to the older, more experienced Flip Video Ultra. We were impressed with the Vado’s sleek design, small form factor, larger LCD and $99 price point ($50 less than the Flip Ultra), but the Flip is the pocket camcorder we would choose to record our memories–even if we did have to shell out a few more bucks.

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  1. Carmen Says:

    You will probably notice yourself if you watch the videos that the sound was remarkably much clearer with the Flip as well. For me, the quality of the video is everything, so I find the rest of this review unimportant.

  2. Nobby Says:

    Surely these are just bridge products until the phones improve ( resolution and ease of getting content off the phone and onto the web) and/or the webcams become wireless?

    In the meantime, why not be creative and flip a coin?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with Carmen, although for me AA batteries are a plus also. But if you have a rechargeable battery, a thin form factor, and take horrible video, it makes more sense to ignore you.

  4. Humberto Says:

    I bought a Vado and ended up sending it back. The video quality was decent but the audio quality was terrible. You could barely hear anything unless you were shouting into the mic. I don’t expect high quality for $100 but I did expect something that would be at least viewable later. Will probably now buy the new Flip Mino.

  5. Rene Says:

    I have used vado for past 2 weeks and it is been very good. Not professional quality maybe but good enough to film friends and family in an instant. I had original flip video but that turned out to be unusable (sent it back) because of its really little dim screen with absolutely horrible resolution. As if there was no screen really. I mean the Flip was a great idea but the product itself is less than acceptable. No wonder some better alternatives such as Vado appeared.

  6. Don C. Jackson Says:

    I looked at both in the store but followed what the seller said:

    Creative are the brand. They support products for years. You buy once and it is not going to be obsolete once they launch a follow-up model.

    Indeed once I bought the Vado, I checked the support site and here we go, new firmware is readily available and with that video quality is much better now:

  7. nick Says:

    Reply- Anonymous

    i have the Ultra to. but the downside of the batteries are if you run out… speaking in a common scenario… im on my last AA then i have to buy more batteries.. which is annoying

  8. Lee Says:

    They should also include an Audio test in the comparison, but I’m glad the film showed the difference in sound too, I also think that all other parameters can be ignored except for video and sound quality. so flip still wins over all.

  9. Jon Says:

    Just returned my Flip MINO today for a refund. Sure, the product was great WHEN IT WORKED. Many people who were lucky enough to cash out early did great with Madoff’s funds also. Flip, based on my experience, has invested a lot of time and money in ignoring and/or not honoring their warranty claims and product. The product has great specs. but is a cheaply-made gadget, likely to fail in use. For some user feedback, search GOOGLE for “Flip Mino Complaints”, “Flip Mino Problems”, etc. The pleas from owners who are out several hundred dollars for useless junk and a company that seems to “Flip A Finger” at them are truly hair-raising (and I’m bald). I was lucky enough that my credit-card company stood by me and reversed the charges, which was the ONLY avenue of the many I tried that got The Flip Inc. to finally respond. Before that, they laughed at me (figuratively) and ignored my complaints. If you buy a product from The Flip, assume it’s “as-is” out of the box, because the Warranty is a joke, as is the “Support”. It WILL break, and when it does….. you’re on your own. I’m using my refund to buy a VADO. I’d prefer the better video/audio quality, but not at the expense of reliability and service.

  10. Hedrina Says:

    I have had nothing but trouble with the HD Vado, wouldn’t charge and when finally it did, would not play anything, completely dead! I have now sent it back for the second time for repair, and no doubt will have to wait another 3 weeks for it’s return. E mails to this company take an age, and finally after about 7 days you are asked to post it back to them, feel on return last time nothing was checked within the inside workings of the video and that all they did was to give me a new battery, for all I informed them fully of the problem. I await in anticipation for the results when I get this back,,,,,,,,,,, but I am not holding my breath. I feel for £279 this was an absolute disgrace and would have been better off buying locally and having assistance just a stone throw away!

  11. Hedrina Says:

    Apologies price I paid was £210.97 but still steep enough for a product not to work after less than a year old.

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