As stated, the Bloggie meets the main criteria for pocket camcorders: it's stupid simple to use. Simply turn it on, hit record, and watch the action unfold through the 3.0-inch LCD. It's a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get in terms of framing as there is no image clipping. There is a 4x digital zoom which is controlled by either dragging an icon across the display or tapping the tele or wide indicators represented by a T or W, respectively.
The zoom is clunky and not very smooth, and, as a digital zoom, it predictably destroys image quality. This is because digital zooms simply digitally enlarge the pictures instead of zooming in optically.
The Bloggie Touch has internal storage, either 4GB or 8GB. At the highest resolution (1920x1080 at 30fps), the 4GB holds about 40 minutes of footage, and the 8GB 80 minutes (the pocket camcorder can hold about two hours and four hours of 720/30p footage respectively). Oddly, continuous shooting is limited to approximately 30 minutes.
As for the battery, I filled up my Bloggie Touch with 2 hours of footage and it was still chugging along. The battery indicator in the display was way off, however. It showed four and then three bars for the first 100 minutes before quickly draining down to no bars. Still, the fact that I managed to fill the device to capacity with active footage before it died definitely impressed.
Like most other pocket HD camcorders, all Bloggie Touch picture controls, including focus, white balance, and exposure are automated. For the most part, Sony succeeds at keeping the Bloggie in line with the shooting situation, but the Bloggie Touch can be finicky and fooled. For example, the Bloggie Touch has face detection, and it can throw the focus off if the subject is moving through the frame. Also, the white balance is sensitive to ambient light, which can shift footage colors noticeably.
This is not to suggest the Bloggie Touch is worse than other pocket camcorders in this regard. In fact, the Bloggie Touch was actually quicker to react to changing conditions than rival devices.
In constant light, the Sony Bloggie Touch shoots very clean and smooth video free of digital artifacts and crisp edges. The colors are nicely balanced with very little saturation. At 1080p, the detail level is a little low for an HD camcorder, but that's only apparent when the picture is blown up. The 720/60p option produces some extremely smooth footage thanks to the doubled frame-rate, which makes it ideal for sports action. In low light, noise and artifacts creep in and the color is thrown off, but it's not nearly as severe as with other pocket camcorders.
Provided your finger isn't covering the mic while shooting, the Bloggie Touch produces decent-enough audio. It won't blow you away with fidelity, but it's no worse or better than other on-board mics. For once, I won't complain about the lack of an external mic input as it would compromise the design. Here's an example of the audio pickup:
The Bloggie Touch shoots JPEG stills up to 12 megapixels. Too often, manufacturers haphazardly interpolate extra pixels to bump up the megapixel count, which makes for large and ugly images. While I'm guessing Sony is using interpolation to achieve 12 megapixels, the stills are outstanding for a pocket camcorder. The colors are nicely balanced and the pictures are extremely sharp when compared to smartphone pics, and even some low-end point and shoots. Viewing the stills at full size reveals some image grain, but it's not enough to affect the overall quality when viewed normally.
Operation and Extras
The Sony Bloggie ships with a USB extension cable and wrist strap. It comes preloaded with the new Bloggie software. There are a couple things missing, the most glaring being a carrying case or cloth bag, if for nothing else than to protect the lens and display. A microfiber cloth would have been a nice addition too, considering how quickly the fingerprints and smudges accumulate. Also, Sony has once again excluded the HDMI cable, which is not a surprise but still disappointing.
Sony has replaced its standard Picture Motion Browser software with the new Bloggie Software that focuses more on social media and sharing footage. There are options of instant uploads to Facebook, Flickr, and other social media sites, including Sony Personal Space.
Personal Space is 1GB of cloud storage that users can upload photos and video too through the Bloggie Software. Users can then email links to the content to whomever they choose. It's a great feature and useful for those who want to share photos with only a specified few and not their entire buddy list.
I actually liked the old PMB as it was much slicker and less buggy than other bundled software suites. The new Bloggie Software is hands down a better program and seriously rivals Flip's vaunted FlipShare as one of the best.
Of course, as with all MP4 files, users can simply drag and drop them out of the Bloggie over USB and avoid the Bloggie Software all together.
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