Sony places the emphasis firmly on fun with its latest pocket video camera.
Cisco’s decision to cease the manufacture of Flip pocket video cameras came as a big disappointment; the products have been firm favourites in our office for a few years now, due to class-leading image quality and ease of use. But one man’s loss is another’s gain, so the saying goes, and other manufacturers are stepping in with their own products in the hope of grabbing some market share.
The Sony Bloggie MHS-TS20 is the first model we’ve reviewed in the post-Flip era, and it bears all the classic hallmarks of the pocket video camera genre. It has a pop out USB arm and a good dollop of built-in memory (8GB). Sony’s video and picture management software is stored onboard ready for direct installation, and there’s a big red button on the rear panel for starting and stopping video recording.
This camera does move things on a bit, however, and there are a number of areas where it pulls ahead of the last generation Flip UltraHD.
Flip vs. Bloggie
Where that Flip UltraHD could only muster 720p HD footage, for example, the Sony is able to record 1080p; where the Flip has 2in screen, the Sony sports a 3in display; and where the Flip was built all of plastic, the Bloggie is encased in luxurious aluminium.
It’s a beautifully made thing and tops off the luxury feel with a touch-sensitive display. It has a larger sensor (at 1/2.5in vs 1/4.5in) than the Flip UltraHD as well.
Image quality is very good too. The camera boasts digital image stabilisation, which works well to smooth out bumps and shakes, and features both autofocus and face detection. In our indoor and outdoor tests, all this contributed to superior performance in most respects.
It was more than a match for the Flip in terms of detail and colour fidelity. Noise in low light was obvious, but again controlled with little colour contamination. The Flip would appear to hold the advantage of a higher frame rate over the Sony, with a buttery smooth 50fps making it better for action and panning shots than the 30fps of the Sony. But even here, the Bloggie has it covered: drop the resolution down to 720p, and a 60fps option becomes available.
We do have some gripes, and the biggest is that the Bloggie isn’t a very comfortable camera to shoot with. Neither are we particularly enamoured of the software’s inability to upload footage to sharing sites in the background. Once you hit the Share button, the whole application is locked until the job is finished.
But these complaints aren’t quite enough to put us off. The latest Sony Bloggie is a lovely piece of kit. It’s fun and generally easy to use; it’s extremely well-made; and it shoots great quality 1080p video. And with a price that’s not too expensive, we reckon it’s a pretty darned good buy.