I got asked what my impressions are of the Flip UltraHD I’m testing out. The hardware itself is fine, although a little mediocre in 2010 since the bar’s constantly going up (720p instead of 1080p, no image stabilization, but pretty good in low-light, and the “candy bar” form factor is more usable than I expected), but FlipShare, the software that comes with it, is the linchpin for the overall user experience that is really the main goal on selling it (something akin to Apple product experiences, IMHO).
The box came with version 4.5 of FlipShare which had a good chunk of things I found annoying, but after the upgrade to their 5.0 version (22.214.171.124727 at the moment), the majority of those went away – it’s a nice, solid, very usable interface. Good WAF, too.
It can upload to multiple services (facebook, myspace, youtube) – I picked youtube as a destination mainly for popularity – since it’s extended family that will be viewing these, I wanted a site they’d most likely already be somewhat familiar with. I know a good chunk of them still aren’t on facebook, and most of them probably never even heard of myspace 🙂
The upload behavior is enough such that I’ve started my own app that’ll upload the videos (to be covered more in posts to come), especially after I threw in the various “bonus” bits and realized it’d be pretty unlikely that all this gets taken care of by Cisco+LinkSys+Flip in a timeframe I’d be ok with :) It also gives me a chance to take advantage of some of the new/better out-of-browser capabilities in Silverlight 4, although there will be cmdline and desktop-app versions as well 🙂
Problems with FlipShare’s uploading
- I always upload to YouTube – let me say "always this", or at least default the radio button to what was last selected so I don’t have to keep clicking it (similar to how the visibility defaults to public instead of private later in the "wizard")
- When uploading to YouTube, there’s 2 phases involved:
- For a LONG time, FlipShare isn’t actually uploading anything and is just hogging CPU. Is it transcoding or something? It doesn’t (or at least, shouldn’t) need to (already H.264 MP4 coming off device). I can upload the files directly with no transcoding using other youtube uploaders.
- After that it actually does the real upload – I can tell when it starts because the CPU fan in my laptop quiets down considerably 🙂
- No X retries (would be very helpful when the laptop sleeps+resumes, since it’ll definitely fail during that cycle and will need to retry)
- Related, apparently no resumable uploads?
- If an upload job fails, all the videos in that upload job appear to fail
- When a job fails, especially if you had multiple upload jobs going in parallel, you can’t tell which videos didn’t make it without inspecting what’s on youtube.
- No ability to view the details of the actively running upload jobs, like:
- Rate of transfer
- List of files and their individual progress (completed/transferring/pending/etc)
- Estimated time of completion (per file and overall), both as X hours and potentially as a time of day for users that don’t want to do the math themselves 🙂
- No notifications of progress/finishing
- Toast on desktop (like Outlook)
- Facebook, Twitter, whatever notifications so family and friends find out about new videos (do per batch, not per video!)
- NOTE: YouTube has this natively via AutoShare as a workaround for now, but I’d rather have it in the FlipShare UI so I can more easily customize the notifications (recipients, added text, etc) beforehand
- Bonus: allow "syncing" of videos up to YouTube such that it checks whether a file is already up there (name, length, hash, whatever) and skips it if so.
- This lets people just worry about maintaining a local copy and let it push up automatically, something akin to SyncToy
- Target is eventually running on WHS where you get your videos onto your \\server\videos share and a WHS plugin syncs them up to YouTube for you
- Bonus: allow creation of YouTube playlists based on folder structure within FlipShare
- Similarly needs to be kept in sync – if you move videos around to different folders, it should modify the playlists