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The product is called FlipShare TV, a white box about the size of a three-waffle stack. It plugs into a conventional TV with an included composite video/stereo cable or HDTV using an optional HDMI cable to wirelessly receive videos and photos directly from a computer. You attach the Bic lighter-like transmitter, called the USB key, to your Windows or Mac computer, which can be in a nearby room. Then, you point the infrared remote (two AAA batteries are included) at the white box, known as the TV Base, making it possible to run the show without getting up.
You'd never know from the manual that FlipShare TV uses a Wireless-N point-to-point configuration that auto selects 2.4- or 5-Gigahertz depending on which band has better reception. But that's the point. Flip Video's products have always been synonymous with simplicity, and that idea hasn't been lost on FlipShare TV. Functions are sparse, but the learning curve is smooth.
|Clockwise from upper left: USB key, TV Base, and remote|
Since FlipShare TV is targeted at people who own Flip Video camcorders, I took an 8GB model, the UltraHD, around the city to shoot some video. The camera can record 2 hours of high-def video (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per second. Upon flipping out the USB arm and plugging it into my computer, the camera uploaded the built-in FlipShare software. I then transferred my video clips. As with other Flip camcorders, you can create snapshot photos from the video in the computer.
|The same library of video clips seen in the FlipShare computer software (above) will appear on your TV screen ready to play.|
When you plug the FlipShare TV's USB key into the computer, the FlipShare software is updated to recognize the TV Base. It's only then that you're instructed to attach the TV Base to your TV and turn it on. FlipShare TV accepts a standard size male to male HDMI cable. An example of a 6-footer is the Xtreme Cables HDMI to HDMI Male 28 AWG cable.
|TV Base contains composite video, stereo, and HDMI outputs but no Ethernet or USB jack.|
An LED on the back panel of the TV Base indicates signal strength. At first I placed my computer, a notebook, about four feet from the TV Base. The signal was strong, and soon I was watching my videos playing fluidly on my HDTV. I was able to move the notebook to a position in another room nearly 50-feet away, and the videos still played without glitches. I discovered, however, that at greater distances or with more obstacles in the way, the signal was lost. In the case of trying to play video from a stationary computer like a desktop machine under a desk, reception can be improved using a USB extension cable such as the D-Link USB 2.0 Extension Cable, a 10-footer. That way, the USB key could be placed closer to a doorway, for instance. I found that while you don't need direct line of sight, it helps to have as few obstructions as possible between the USB key and TV Base.
The remote is as simple as it gets: a menu button, a back button, and a blue select button centered in a navigational diamond. You can fast forward or rewind a video or jump to the next or previous clip. However, for an automated photo slide show, there's no control over interval timing.
While it's likely that most users will stay within Flip Video's walled garden - that is, content transferred from Flip Video camcorders - it's possible to import a limited number of video formats: most ".mov" files (for Mac) and ".mp4" and WMV files (for PC) as long as the resolution is either 640 x 480 or 1280 x 720 pixels. For still images, compatible files must be in the JPEG format no smaller than VGA (640 x 480) resolution.
Assuming your computer has a broadband connection, you can also use FlipShare TV to watch video shared by other Flip Video users. These Flip Channels are a convenient way to share videos with loved ones no matter where they live. A Flip user can simply set up Flip Channels within the computer's FlipShare software and choose the friends and family they want to be able to watch. Whenever they add new content to a Flip Channel, everyone included in that channel can watch it instantly. For example, grandparents in Florida can turn on the TV and watch the latest Flip video of their grandchildren frolicking in the snow.
Keep in mind that FlipShare TV may not be what you want to use when the video clips are fresh in the camcorder and the goal is to quickly view them on your HDTV. To do that with my UltraHD, I got myself a mini HDMI (Type C) to HDMI (Type A) tether such as the Xtreme Cable Mini HDMI Male to HDMI cable. (Not all Flip Video models are HDMI-capable.) It wasn't the most comfortable way to experience the show, though, since without a really long cable, I was relegated to holding the camera near the TV to control playback.
Of course, no matter which Flip Video camcorder you use, you'll eventually transfer its contents to a computer in order to free up memory for more shooting. That's when FlipShare TV is most useful. Once footage is archived to your computer or a Flip Channel, there's no limit to the amount of video you'll be able to play through the wireless media extender. For those in the Flip Video fold who couldn't care less about home networks, FlipShare TV is a simple, graceful way to enjoy family memories on your big screen TV.