Some have said that the addition of video recording to the iPod nano earlier this year spelled the possible demise of Flip Video's popular line of handheld camcorders. The Cisco division is not standing still, however, waiting for Apple to catch up, as on Wednesday they announced FlipShare TV, which is a new $150 box that you can use to view videos either shared directly from your computer or from your FlipShare channels on the Internet.
FlipShare.com was introduced earlier this year as a way to share videos. While you can obviously share videos via YouTube, it's easier to keep them private on FlipShare.com. On YouTube you can keep a video private, but then those who want to view them must accept a "friend" request from you, and too many people just don't get why they need to do that on YouTube. Well, perhaps I don't want my baby's video running around the entire Web!
Anyway, FlipShare TV includes the box itself, a remote, and a USB key that must be in a computer. The wireless connection between that key and the FlipShareTV box itself must be maintained in order to view videos. The recommended range is no more than 200 feet. The box itself can connect to your TV with standard A/V cables or even HDMI (HDMI cable sold separately).
With the new FlipShare 5.0 software installed on the PC (installed automatically on a Mac or Windows PC as soon as the USB key is plugged in), once there's a connection between the appropriate PC and box (and TV), you can control access to the videos directly via the box, sans the PC. Any new videos uploaded to a FlipShare channel you have access to will appear in a folder labeled "New Items," at least until you watch them.
Don't forget also that there's a FlipShare app for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. New videos will appear automatically in your app when they are shared with the you.
The biggest drawback to FlipShare TV is the fact that it still requires a computer. While the computer doesn't even necessarily need to be in the same room as the TV, it's still a drawback. What would be better would be something like the Roko box, whereby you don't need anything but the box itself. Still, we are big fans of the Flip.
Flip Video's parent company, Pure Digital, was purchased by Cisco earlier this year. The move seemed to be just another step in Cisco's home media initiatives. Flip Video camcorders have been at the top, or near the top, of sales figures for camcorders for some time, as users have gravitated toward its ease of use and carryability.