The SONY Bloggie Camcorder
In the first article in this series, we explored the ideal attributes a cheap (under $200) digital camcorder needs to be a good choice for creating and uploading videos to YouTube. The features discussed include portability, video quality, audio quality, and the features that make uploading to YouTube easy.
Besides its cutesy name, the SONY Bloggie does offer some great features for YouTubers especially since this digital camcorder comes in two form factors. Read the rest of this review to find out whether the SONY Bloggie is the cheap, digital, YouTube camcorder for you.
Portability (3 out of 5)
The SONY Bloggie is unique in that SONY offers two form factors for its cheap, digital camcorder. The MHS-PM5 is a bar-style design similar to the Flip UltraHD and Kodak Zi8. Unlike those camcorders, this P Series comes with a 270-degrees swiveling lens so that you can shoot videos while viewing from either behind or in front of the camera. This is a great feature if you ever want to get in on the action and still see if the video is framed correctly. The P Series Bloggie also features an impressive 4x optical zoom.
The MHS-CM5 version of the Bloggie is the model that looks more like a standard camcorder. Featuring a swivel screen rather than a swiveling lens, the C Series is the model for the more serious YouTuber who wants to frame videos more conveniently and accurately. The C Series Bloggie improves a bit on the zooming feature with its 5x optical zoom.
Unlike the Flip UltraHD, however, the Bloggie does not ship with any storage memory; right out of the box the camera is incapable of shooting any video until you shell out more money for Memory Pro Stick Duo or SD/SDHC media. The necessity of buying the storage separately pushes the price of this camcorder out of the sub-$200 range. Both versions of the Bloggie, however, offer 5 megapixel still image captures making this camcorder more versatile than its competitors.
Video (4 out of 5)
Although Cisco’s strong advertising for the Flip UltraHD has made it the number one selling cheap digital camcorder, the Bloggie offers higher quality video and a few more features that make it the better technical choice.
The SONY Bloggie offers 1080p High Definition video captures where most other camcorders in its class offer only 720p, including the UltraHD. However, the compression format used by the Bloggie is still the popular H.264 standard which is the native compression algorithm used by YouTube. Essentially, what you see on your camera is a good approximation of the results you will get when you upload your video to YouTube. The MP4 video file created by the Bloggie is compatible with a variety of media players such as Windows Media Player, iTunes, and QuickTime player.
The quality of a camcorder this size cannot possibly compare with the quality obtained from a larger, full-featured solution. Still, the quality of the video itself is about average for a camera in this class. You’ll get nothing more but nothing less than what you’d expect for the price you pay for this camera.
Audio (2 out of 5)
The audio features of the Bloggie make this cheap digital camcorder a bit of a disappointment juxtaposed to the impressive features mentioned above. As expected, the internal microphone is only capable of capturing mono audio, a feature common to many camcorders even a class above this one.
What is truly disappointing is the lack of an external mic port so that YouTubers at least have the option to capture stereo audio or use an external mic to improve the sound in their videos. The only way to capture audio with the Bloggie is to use the internal mono mic.
This is a nightmare for videographers and other creative types trying to capture quality audio outdoors. With no way to shield the small, internal microphone port from wind and other extraneous noises, the Bloggie produces some truly amateur-sounding audio.
Uploading to YouTube (4 out of 5)
The SONY Bloggie offers nothing spectacular when it comes to software for this digital camcorder but it does serve the need for an easy way to upload videos to various video sharing sites including YouTube. The pre-installed Picture Motion Browser (PMB) is equally compatible with PC and Mac so Mac users are not left out of the equation.
Featuring a swing out USB arm, you can connect the Bloggie to any computer with an open USB port and an Internet connection to instantly upload videos to YouTube. Unfortunately, like the Flip UltraHD, you will need a USB extension cable unless you don’t mind holding the camcorder up to your desktop’s USB port while you offload or upload your video captures. If you USB ports are located on the back of your computer, you are out of luck and will need the extension. This is not a problem if you exclusively connect the Bloggie to a laptop.
Overall Rating of the SONY Bloggie (3 out of 5)
The choice to offer two versions of the Bloggie was a good move for SONY from a marketing point of view. Those wanting more features can opt for the C Series (MSRP US$199.99) while those wanting to maintain maximum portability can opt for the P Series (MSRP US$169.99).
The optical zooms on both series are not only impressive, they’re completely unexpected on cheap digital camcorders in their class. Since digital zoom is almost useless for both videos and still images, this feature opens up whole new opportunities for the amateur video producer.
Surprisingly, however, not even the feature rich C Series offers a built-in stereo microphone or even a port for external mics. This forever stations both series of the Bloggie as ultra-portable but amateur solutions for creating YouTube videos.
This post is part of the series: Reviews of Cheap Digital Camcorders for Uploading Videos to YouTube
In the first article, we discuss the ideal features a digital camcorder should have for easily uploading videos to YouTube. The remaining three articles in the series review the Flip UltraHD, SONY Bloggie, and Kodak Zi8 digital camcorders.