The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is a pocket HD camcorder with an impressive lineup of features (on paper at least). Inside the camera is a sensor capable of 5MP photos, 1080P “full HD” video, SD(HC) and Memory Stick Duo card support, one-touch uploads and a built in USB connector.
The Bloggie is Sony’s answer to the huge lineup of pocket HD camcorders that have invaded the market in recent years – a market that Sony used to dominate with their Camcorders.
The Sony Bloggie PM5 manages to stand out in the busy pocket camera market thanks to several neat innovations – its first (and easiest to notice) is a swiveling lens. Opening the lens also turns the camera on, which makes it easy to take some spur of the moment video clips.Controls and options
Controls on the Sony Bloggie are aplenty – you get a joystick for menu controls, play and menu selector buttons, a video and photo button and a power button, for when you want to do playback without opening the lens. All these buttons are in line with the long list of features found on the camera – while some pocket HD camcorders may only offer the most basic of options, the Sony Bloggie adds features like resolution selection, various playback options and of course, the ability to delete recordings, which is handy if you just recorded someone doing something you don’t want any records of.
The Bloggie feels very “Sony-ish” – I’m not sure how to describe it, but even without seeing the brand name, most geeks will be able to determine that it was made by Sony. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels a little over-engineered. The battery and card slot are hidden behind a slide/tilt cover which just feels way too much for a budget camera.
Then there is the USB plug – it slides out, and is hidden by a flimsy plastic cover, something I just know will break off sooner or later. In the box is a short USB extension cable, which means you don’t have to have the Bloggie hang off the front of your computer (and risk breaking something).
In the hardware section, I’ve kept the worst for last – the screen. Oh my goodness what a disaster… The screen on the Bloggie only works well if you look directly at it – a few degrees to the left or right, and it is almost impossible to see what you are recording. This suddenly makes the swivel lens so much more convenient, because you’ll need to swivel up or down to keep the screen angled correctly.
Video and photo quality
This part is actually quite positive – both photos and videos are actually pretty decent – but you’ll need to make sure you stick to the middle of the road in quality. The 1080p setting (highest option) may sound great on paper, but in reality, the camera has a hard time keeping up with any kind of fast movement.
Of all the pocket HD cameras I’ve tested, I actually found the photo quality of the Bloggie to be the most impressive – it obviously won’t replace your day to day camera (no flash, no optical zoom), but it sure beats the quality of most mobile phones.
This clip was shot in 720p 30 frames per second – which is (in my opinion) the best setting for the Bloggie. In daylight the camera works surprisingly well – but you don’t want to use it in any dark rooms, as with most cameras in this class, the quality of dark shots is pretty poor.
The camera does feature a digital zoom, but frustratingly, it only works in the photo mode and the 720p video mode – a nice touch to include, but fairly useless in reality.
There are several reasons to like the Bloggie, and several to dislike it – so lets start with its pros:
The swivel lens is actually pretty cool – it helps with shots above your head, or self portraits. I also like that the camera takes Memory Stick Duo and SD(HD) cards – this provides some flexibility, and allows you to use cards you may already have lying around. A slightly more expensive version of the Bloggie adds a nifty 360 degree lens – which allows you to make wacky fish-eye shots.
The removable battery is definitely a pro but spare batteries are $40. The upside is that the battery pack charges any time you plug it into a USB port, and that its battery life is really, really good.
The price is a tough call – it retails for $149.99, but that is without any memory cards – so expect to invest a bit more. At this price point, there are several other options, including several with 8GB of storage built in.
Now for the cons:
No HDMI output – I feel that this one is a real missed feature – even though you can hook the camera up to your TV for non-HD playback, or pop the memory card in your computer or PS3, the lack of HDMI is just a real shame. Then there is of course the display – I won’t waste any more words on that…
I find it tough to draw any conclusions about the Bloggie MHS-PM5 – I feel like I shouldn’t like it, but it really isn’t a bad camera – it is just a camera with a ton of competition – and some of that competition offers more value for money.
Despite its shortcomings, I do like the Bloggie – it feels well made, and it doesn’t have the “toy factor” some other cameras suffer from. Bottom line – if you like the pros, go for it, but if the cons are too much to deal with, find something else, you have plenty to chose from.