Flip Video Ultra
Sometimes versatility can make up for a lack of bells and whistles. The Flip Video Ultra is simple: point, click and upload. Lightweight and compact, the camera would shine as a child’s first digital camera. Operation is simple, and with the additional Flip Action Mount and waterproof casing, adventurous tykes can film their BMX milestones or their hunt for Nemo. The Action Mount is nothing more than a metal bar that screws into the tripod socket on the camera and attaches to a bike or helmet via Velcro straps. Strapped to the handlebars of a bike, it looks flimsy but holds up quite well for street riding. Strapped to your bike helmet, it looks silly. A rougher terrain could jostle the straps loose, but the biggest problem is a constant shaking in the video and the sound of clicking spokes. Continuing the trend, the waterproof casing is simple but effective. A twist top unlocks a bivalve case with a rubber lining to keep the water out. Effective to 30 feet, the waterproof case won’t make it to the bottom of the ocean, but it will give you peace of mind when the kids drop it in the pool at the family barbecue. $149.99 nabs you a single gigabyte Flip Video Ultra that will record 30 minutes of video. Another $30 buys you an additional 30 minutes of recording time. The video quality certainly isn’t high-definition, but it will please non-discerning fledgling filmmakers.
Digital Hero 3
Wrist straps are stupid—you know exactly where your camera is, but only because you’ve been inadvertently smashing it into every hard surface imaginable all day. GoPro’s Digital Hero 3 ($140) fixes this by locking a tiny camera in a waterproof case that straps securely to your wrist with a Velcro bracelet. An old-school digital display (think pre-Nintendo Game Boy) and two buttons are the only things on the small, gray, plastic box. Inside, it only packs 16 megabytes of memory for photos and video, but that can easily be upgraded to 2 GB with a Secure Digital (SD) card. With a 3 megapixel camera, the picture quality is akin to a mid-level camera phone, but the extra memory is worth the extra money. Tucked out of the way on your wrist, the camera is perfect for rock-climbers hoping to snap a fading sunset while perched on the side of a mountain. Plus you have to love the clunky 1970s spy feel of the whole gizmo.
ATC2K Action Cam
While the above cameras will snap picturesque views and capture childhood adventures, what if you need something for a fast-paced, crash-and-burn scene? If you’re doing flips off of dirt hills you need a camera that can take a blow or two. Rugged and durable, the ATC2K Action Cam ($120) can be mounted around the helmet like a headband or through the holes in the helmet. 32 MB, with an SD slot for up to 2 GB, it’s ready to capture your most wicked snowboarding, dirt-biking or ATV pile-up and turn it into YouTube gold. The buttons are near-impossible to maneuver when the camera is locked onto your dome, but this also means that when you wipe-out the camera won’t accidentally turn off, robbing the world of your idiotic tribute to summer sports.