Sony Bloggie Touch Review (MHS-TS20)
Cisco’s recent announcement about discontinuing their popular Flip video camera series was pretty shocking. After all, the Flip did start the pocket camcorder craze and inspired a slew of imitators. That said, the news wasn’t all that shocking since smartphones are replacing pocket camcorders. We recently got the opportunity to test out the Sony Bloggie Touch 8GB, and discovered that there is still plenty of life left in the pocket camcorder market yet. The Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 packs in the ability to record video at up-to 1080P at 30fps in MP4 format and its video format is compatible with iMovie, it can also take 12.8MP still images, and it features a 4X digital zoom, a Sony Exmor CMOS sensor, with SteadyShot image stabilization, along with a built-in rechargeable battery and HDMI out.
The Bloggie is available in two capacities – 4GB or 8GB, The 4GB model provides enough memory to record about an hour in 1080p while the 8GB model can hold unto about 2 hours in 1080p. That said, if you record at 720p, which should be good enough for most, you’ll be able to get even more footage in. The Bloggie has 3 modes for shooting video -1080p at 30fps, and 720p at 60 or 30fps. It also gives you the option of taking still images at 12, 8 or 2 megapixels. You can also choose to film in either landscape or portrait modes, although we don’t recommend filming in portrait, since that ends up being a pain when editing later on. The Bloggie U.I. is able to work in both landscape and portrait modes as well. In general you’ll have to remember to film while holding the Bloggie in landscape mode, which can be a bit disconcerting since it feels more natural to hold it in portrait mode.
The Bloggie comes packaged in a compact and pretty luxurious box lined with a soft velvet-like material. The box is so nice that you wont what to throw it away. A carrying strap and a USB extension cable are included. However, an HDMI cable and carrying case are unfortunately not included, but that isn’t surprising at this price point. Weighing just 4.2oz, and measuring 2 1/8″ x 4 1/4″ x 5/8 with a flip-out USB arm, The Sony Bloggie Touch 8GB is on par with other pocket camcorders, but manages to also be a little thinner than some of the competition. However, the Bloggie Touch trounces a lot of the competition with a large 3″ LCD touchscreen display. The display is sharp and pretty colorful, bur the LCD itself is kind of low quality in comparison to most modern smartphone displays.
The design of the device is quite handsome with silver trim surrounding the camera lens. The 8GB model is also available in pink, blue, black or silver. The left side of the device holds the power button while on the right side there is a door which covers the mini-HDMI port, and located at the bottom of the device is a slot for mounting a tripod. Next to the tripod, the USB arm is stashed. You’ll need to press down on the USB arm for it to pop out. The USB arm is used of course to transfer files off of the Bloggie Touch. It’s also the only way to charge the device since it has a built-in battery.
The 3″ LCD touchscreen display makes operating the device much more of a pleasure than its competitors. That said, the use interface isn’t all that intuitive but it’s easy enough to get the hang of quickly. You can also use the Bloggie to flip through stored videos and videos. That is done by sliding through thumbnails with your fingers. When it comes to starting a recording, the Bloggie is responsive and it only takes a moment to start recording.
The video produced by the Sony Bloggie Touch is excellent, making the Bloggie Touch one of the best pocket camcorders out there. Footage tends to be sharp, and bright with vivid colors. As a matter of fact, the quality is so good that you’d think it was coming out of a more expensive camcorder. The built-in auto-focus is also impressive and works well. That said, you’ll want to stay away from using the digital zoom since it really degrades the video quality. Audio on the other hand is just acceptable since the Bloggie Touch tends to pick up a lot of background noise. Also there is no option to add a dedicated mic, which is a bummer, but not surprising for this form-factor.
Still images taken with the Bloggie Touch are ok, but definitely not the camera’s strong point. That said, images are pretty sharp and colorful when taken outdoors, but forget about using the Bloggie Touch as a serious camera indoors since there is no built-in flash or optical stabilization – so photos tend to be grainy and blurry.
Both Mac and PC users can drag and drop files off of the Bloggie on to their computers as if it were a disk drive. The Bloggie Touch comes preloaded with Sony’s Bloggie software for Windows. Mac users will have to download the software from Sony’s web site. The software is very easy to use and is designed to help users import videos and photos from the Bloggie onto your computer. It also allows for quick and easy uploading to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Picasa.
The Sony Bloggie Touch is definitely leading the pack when it comes to Pocket Camcorders. We love its compact and sleek design, easy to use touch-based U.I., and the excellent video that it produces. Some of you might be wondering why if you have a smartphone that records in HD, why would you still what a Bloggie Touch? The video quality produced by the Bloggie Touch HD is still better than what most smartphones can produce, at-least for now. Furthermore, the Flip camcorder might be dead, but long live the Bloggie Touch. The Sony Bloggie Touch retails for $169.99 and can even be customized with an engraving on SonyStyle.com. The silver model be found for as little as $149.99 on Amazon. There is also a 4GB version that is available for as little as $129.99 and the new 3D Bloggie HD camera was also just released for $249.99. Finally, there is a special promotion going on now which gets customers a free Sony Bloggie Touch when their purchase a VAIO C series laptop.
The Good: Great design, large 3″ touchscreen display, easy to use interface, excellent video quality, fun color choices
The Bad: No option to add a mic, still images are mediocre