goes 16:9 (video showing Opera's latest now up)

This week I’m doing a ton of HD testing. Here’s the first piece of that test and is my first FastCompanyTV video on Kyte’s new 16:9 format player (wide screen). Looks pretty nice, but wait until you see these videos on some of the other systems that support 16:9 AND high definition!

I met with a couple of geeks from Opera last week. They are the browser folks. But I bet you didn’t have a good look at what they’ve been doing lately.

Perfect chance to play with my new Flip Minio HD camcorder. You can buy this for just about $230. I don’t use any external microphones. No lenses or filters. Nothing but that little tiny camcorder. It is really wild to be able to get video out to the world. This is mind blowing. 20 years ago you would have needed a $200,000 set of cameras and a TV station to broadcast it. Now anyone can do it.

One problem I found is that with HD the file sizes are massive (these two videos were 1.1 gigs in my camera). I tried to upload it to Kyte? Failed. Facebook, too big. Viddler? Failed. Vimeo? Too big. YouTube? Too big. So, I went back and split it into two pieces. That took a little bit of time, but isn’t hard.

Anyway, here’s the two parts:

Part I, Opera browser updates (here is the same video on Facebook, so you can compare quality — the Facebook one is a LOT nicer)
Part II, Opera browser updates. (Here’s the same video on Facebook).

One thing, if you are using one of these small cameras you MUST use a monopod or tripod to get them steady enough to look good. By using a monopod with these videos they look much more professional than if I had held the camera with my hand.

So, what will I be testing out this week? Well, like my friend Chris Pirillo did recently, I’m going to be testing out several HD camcorders. The Flip Minio HD is the first one. I will also test out a Kodak Zi6 and a Creative Vado (Pirillo likes the Creative the best). I’ll let you know about those tests later.

Why all the focus on HD? Well, Facebook, Smugmug, YouTube, and Vimeo now support 720p HD video and next week I’m going to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and I can’t bring Rocky (my video producer) so I’ve got to be able to shoot all my own stuff and carry my camera equipment too. That means going with small cameras like the Flip I used last week with the geeks from Opera.

More over the next week or so as I learn more about the cameras and see if my results match Pirillos.

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My First FlipCamHD video

I was at the Monster party at CES hanging out with the executives there (they sponsored a talk I did with Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk about how bloggers can survive and thrive in this crappy economy). A guy handed me a little bag. Inside was a business card and a Flip MinoHD. Turned around and it was Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of puredigital which makes the FlipCams.

I don’t accept gifts of more than $100 so will give this away as soon as I get one of my own but I did use the device to shoot some video of Diana Ross and I put it up on Facebook, which now supports HD video (I did a video with Chris Putnam who runs the Facebook video team where he explains what they did). The quality you see online (if you sign in) is pretty damn close to what I see on my screen here.

More HD videos ahead, especially as I go to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at the end of the month.

UPDATE: my friend Chris Pirillo did a review of all three and likes the Creative Vado better.

HD war breaks out as Facebook, YouTube deliver new features

Tonight an HD war online broke out. YouTube appears to have turned on HD video. Now Facebook jumps into the fray with true 720p HD 16:9 widescreen video. This is HUGE for those of us who have HD camcorders.

But also Vimeo and SmugMug have turned on HD video before.

Why is this important? Well, a bunch of people just received their Canon 5D Mark II cameras that do HD video. So does the Nikon D90. Look at the video that SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill did with his. That shows off SmugMug’s HD goodness.

Or look at Joi Ito’s videos from his 5D which use Vimeo’s video system.

Of course, we have exclusive video from Facebook which explains these features. Here’s a video with Chris Putnam, who runs the Facebook video team.

TechCrunch also covers the new Facebook features.

We’re trying to upload a 720p video to all of these services to see which ones have the best quality and features. Which one are you going to use if you have an HD camcorder? We should have a test video up soon.

UPDATE: this news has already started a long conversation on FriendFeed.

UPDATE 2: Chris Putnam, who was featured in my video, has posted a blog post about these changes and TechMeme has more posts about Facebook’s new video.

A five company day

Yesterday I visited five companies to get you the latest that’s happening in the tech industry.

Here’s the five companies I visited (now you know why my email isn’t getting answered):

1. Xobni. This is a cool add-on for Outlook. Tim O’Reilly has been raving about it on his blog. I’ve been using it for about a week and it lets me see patterns in my email that I wasn’t able to see before. I spent a lot of time with the founders talking about their business and the industry. Sorry for splitting the video up into three pieces, but if the cell phone connection disappears for some reason it ends the stream and I have to restart it. I’m trying to get Qik (the service I use to stream these videos live) to address this and make it possible to join videos together. Part I; Part II; Part III.

2. LifeSize. HD videoconferencing. Pretty affordable compared to other HD systems I’ve seen (starts at about $5,000). Awesome quality and a good demo of state-of-the-art of what videoconferencing systems can do.

3. Vusion. HD streaming. Oh, my, is this cool for cable companies and others who want to bring you HD video to your computer. You need to download a small plugin, but once you do this brings the highest-quality video to your browser I’ve ever seen. This one too is in three parts, sorry for the cell phone troubles. Part I; Part II; Demo.

4. Equals. This is a startup that hasn’t shown anyone its main product yet, I get an exclusive first-look at what they are doing. Wow, what a new way to work using Twitter, social networks, phones, and more. If you only watch one, I’d watch this one. The CEO is a bit wordy, but the demos he shows me are interesting. Part I; Demo; Demo of separate product called Party Line.

5. Google. I filmed a few videos at the Google Friend Connect “Camp Fire One” (aka press/blogger conference). Short video of people standing around, including my former boss, Vic Gundotra. Short video of Mike Arrington and friends (goofy). Long video of entire press conference along with a few interviews at the very end.

Bonus video? Check out the video I did of Kevin Fox, famous interaction designer (used to work at Google, now works at FriendFeed). We talk about “Googly” design.

Today? I’m going to slow things down just a bit and visit Longjump. Gotta run, see ya later on my account.