- Easy to just pick up and use
- Built-in USB arm means you don’t have to search for the cord
- Records full 1080p and can also take 12 megapixel photos
- No expansion card slot, so stuck at built-in 4GB or 8GB depending on model
- Useless in low light scenarios
- No optical image stabilization
The pants pocket has largely remained the same in terms of size over the last 50 years. Gadgets, and more importantly camcorders however have shrunk significantly while their quality has vastly, and disproportionately increased. As a kid I remember lugging around a shoulder mounted VHS camcorder that produced sub par videos. The Sony Bloggie Touch camcorder is small enough to fit in almost any sized pocket yet manages to capture full HD video at 30 fps, something my childhood persona could never begin to fathom.
On the back of the device is a 3-inch capacitive touchscreen and a dedicated record button. It’s available in two capacities, 4GB ($159.99) and 8GB ($179.99), providing up to 40 minutes and 80 minutes of full HD video capture respectively. I checked out the 4GB version, the MHS-TS10.
Much like Cisco’s line of Flip camcorders, Sony has opted for a spring loaded built-in USB arm on the bottom of the Bloggie Touch. It works surprisingly well and pops in and out with the push of a finger. Sony includes a female to male USB cord for those that don’t want to tolerate the stress of the Bloggie Touch hanging off their computer’s USB port, or just don’t have enough room between all the cords to fit the camcorder.
Aesthetically it’s a slender (52mm x 107mm x 15.2mm) and light weight (4.4oz) device that boasts a brushed metal finish. In fact it’s so light it’s easy to forget that it’s in your pocket.
At a glance the Bloggie Touch appears to be a one trick pony. And don’t get me wrong, to a large degree it is and will be used as such, which is to capture HD video. But don’t over look the fact that it can capture 12 megapixel still photos, as well as lower rez stills while recording video thanks to a dedicated shutter button located on the side of the device next to the power button. The 4x digital zoom is another useful feature if you’re at a distance from your target. Further left of that is a mic that picks up sound relatively well for a camcorder of this form factor. But before careful, it’s easy to cover the microphone while gripping it, a reasonable caveat to a small form factor. Also, my unit made a slight clicking noise that was picked up by the mic and showed up in the recorded footage, something I’ve experience with my Canon SD750.
The lens – it has an F2.8 aperture – does a fair job at attracting enough light in reasonably lit scenarios. It can focus on items as little as 4-inches away, though it takes a second or two for the auto focus to hone it on its subjects. However, the Bloggie Touch struggles to produce a solid image in low light scenarios. Checkout the videos below comparing the iPhone 3gs’ camera to the Bloggie Touch. By no means is it a 1 to 1 comparison given the iPhone’s lower rez camera, but it provides some context nonetheless.
To get more mileage out of the built-in storage, Sony allows you to lower the resolution of the video to 720p at 60fps or 30fps – the lowest setting will extend recording times by up to 120 minutes. I tested the MHS-TS10/s, which contains just 4GB of storage and found that it sufficed since it was easy enough to transfer images to my Macbook Pro. There is no expansion slot in the event you run out of space, which for world travelers could be a serious deal breaker. This limited internal memory feature can be frustrating in certain circumstances, so make sure to evaluate what you’ll use this for and if the limited internal flash memory will cause issues or not. There’s also the MHS-TS20 which has double the internal memory (8GB), and also has a touch screen, shutter speeds of 1/30-1/4000 with an Exmor CMOS Sensor (1/2.5 type), and image stabilization.
There are a variety of built-in uploading options in the Bloggie Touch that allow you to instantly tag and share photos/videos with Facebook, YouTube and other services once you plug the camcorder into your computer. However, iMovie on my Macbook Pro took issue with importing the Bloggie Touch’s movies directly into the application requiring me to manually drag the files onto my computer’s hard drive – the Bloggie Touch mounts as a mass storage drive dividing up stills and videos into two mounted drives.
The screen quality of the Bloggie Touch will suffice for reviewing your vignettes. It has 288k pixels and is plenty bright, though in direct sunlight it can be a bit difficult to review given its glossy nature. Additionally, it’s not the best touchscreen I’ve had the pleasure of using, and at times could be every so slightly laggy when trying to flip between videos and photos, or selecting an onscreen menu. The screen automatically orients itself thanks to the built-in accelerometer, but this too, like the screen’s sensitivity, proved to be a bit laggy.
If the 3-inch screen is a bit too small for your liking, there is an HDMI port for reviewing your footage on a connected HD TV. But know this, no HDMI cable is included, so Sony expects you to drop extra cash on a compatible one. I can live with that since most, if not all of my footage hits the Web before ever reaching a TV.
While the Bloggie Touch is easy to use, at least for the most part, I did take issue with the user interface. When you touch the screen a variety of confusing icons appear allowing you to view recent footage, manipulate the camcorders’s core settings and change the recording resolution. More often than not, even after weeks of using the camera, I would tap the ‘video settings’ button thinking it would take me to my videos thumbnails – it’s a grid like icon.
Sony has included their “SteadyShot image stabilization” tech with the Bloggie Touch. The image stabilization technology also helps in improving the image quality of still images. Keep in mind that this is the digital counterpart to their optical Steadyshot, and while it suffices for stand still shooting, it isn’t enough to off set the shakiness that occurs while walking. Checkout the video footage below and you’ll see footage that is analogous to Smartphones and other camcorders of a similar ilk. Check out the below video of me walking down Santa Monica Blvd recording in 720p. If you wait for it you’ll get to see a few Audio R8s.
It was difficult to gauge the battery life of the Bloggie Touch since every time I plugged it in I was charging it. In the two weeks I’ve been testing it, I’ve shot over 40 minutes of footage and have yet to see a low battery light. Charging the device works via any USB port, though you’ll need to bring your own charger to the mix since Sony doesn’t provide one.
Let’s get down to brass tacts. The Sony Bloggie Touch isn’t the best HD camcorder on the market, but nor is the most expensive. It’s ultra easy to use – even my tech averse mom could operate it – there is a built-in USB arm so you’ll never have to search for the cord and it’s so darn small and attractive you’ll consider parting ways with your more clunky point and shoot. The touch screen works and with the image stabilization, you can capture some decent stills in good lighting. However, the Bloggie Touch is pretty much useless in low light scenarios since it’s devoid of a flash or any type of a light, lacks an expansion card slot and produces shaky footage if you’re not standing relatively still.
You can buy the Sony Bloggie Touch from Amazon starting at $129.97 or from one of the retailers below.
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