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Cisco’s Flip SlideHD

The Flip SlideHD sacrifices its size for new features that include touchscreen navigation and video-viewing capabilities

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) on Tuesday released the Flip SlideHD handheld video camera, which sacrifices its pocket-friendly size for features that include touchscreen navigation, increased storage and video-viewing capabilities.

For years, Pure Digital Technologies, which was acquired by Cisco in 2009, has continuously shrunk its Flip video cameras while increasing the screen size and storage. But with SlideHD, Cisco and Pure Digital is taking a step back, increasing the device’s size, but also adding new features that make it easier to share and view video.

The video camera has a 3-inch touchscreen that replaces the physical control buttons found on other Flip cameras like the Mino. The camera is broken up into two panels, with one that pops up the screen in a slanting position to navigate and watch videos stored on the device. The screen orients to widescreen format once it is slanted.

The lower panel acts as a base to secure the screen. It also includes a small scroll pad to help quickly navigate through the videos. However, users scroll through individual videos once at a time, which could become an issue if the device holds many videos.

Video can be shot by placing the device back into its normal position. Simply press the red record button on the touchscreen, and recording starts. The screen previews the images being recorded.

The touchscreen interface provides a more intuitive way to shoot video than earlier Flip video cameras with clunky buttons. The device shot 720p high-definition video and captured the hues and colors of trees in New York’s Central Park well. It also took excellent video in low-light conditions. The video camera can shoot and play back video at 30 frames per second.

The device essentially is a portable media player with sophisticated video-shooting capabilities. It can record up to four hours of high-definition video, or store up to 12 hours of content, according to Cisco. The device comes with 16GB of storage. It can run for two hours on a single battery charge.

SlideHD can be charged by plugging the device into a PC’s USB port. Plugging the device also launches the FlipShare software, which allows users to share video on sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube with a single mouse click. The device works with PCs and Macs.

But the SlideHD is too big and heavy to place in a pocket, primarily because of the SlideHD’s slide-up panel. A lot of Flip’s reputation lies on making pocket-friendly devices, so this could be a cause of concern.

But Cisco brings new video-watching and recording features that are a step above other handheld video cameras like Creative Technology’s Vado and Kodak’s Zi line. Hopefully, like other Flips, this device will hopefully shrink over time to fit into the pocket. The SlideHD is priced at US$279.99 and is available immediately.