The Flip's still Hip. And now the Flip's Web site is a design tool and tutorial

Have you checked out the customization feature for the recently released Flip Mino video camcorder, available on the Flip’s Web site?

Basically, Pure Digital, the camera’s maker, allows Flip buyers (who purchase from the site only) to personalize their Minos with dozens, if not hundreds, of eye-catching pre-existing designs (maps, stripes, panda bears, etc.) or upload personal photos, which are then printed directly onto a white camcorder using an industrial process. They’re not skins that can wear off.

And Flip owners can even use an online program called the Pattern Generator to fashion original imagery in a wide spectrum of colors. It’s a gadget-customization service that goes way beyond what tech giants such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell offer for their PCs, in terms of their newest printed-plastic devices in cool patterns from professional designers like Bruce Mau and Vivienne Tam.

But the design geek in me is fascinated by the extensive FAQ on the Flip Mino’s site, which offers all sorts of tips on how to best design for this type of gadget decoration. The site is like a design tutorial for amateur and professional designers alike. So the personalization element is more than a trendy gimmick; it’s a design tool and tutorial. And it’s a sign that Pure Digital is a truly inventive company, looking beyond just objects to sell but it’s pushing itself to come up with imaginative services, too.

Just for fun, I'm including a recent photo of actress Jessica Alba and fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez (who designed Michelle Obama's election-night dress, by the way), posing on a red carpet with a Flip, holding it up for the paparazzi. It's just a reminder of how Pure Digital has really succeeded in its marketing campaign, too. The Flip might not be the most technologically sophisticated or sturdy camcorder, nor is it made by a powerhouse tech company with a recognizable label or logo. But the Flip is, and continues to be, hip.

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