Road Testing Sony's Bloggie Sport Camera (Review)
Sony's Bloggie Sport camera may not register as a must have gadget unless you want a rugged unit that can survive a fall and can go underwater.
Sony's Bloggie Sport (MHS-TS22) is their most durable pocket video camera; it is tough enough to withstand drops (from reasonable heights), resist dirt and go underwater up to 16 feet (as they described, not tested by us). The rugged camera was released in March and now enjoys the company of similar products like Samsung's HMX-W300. When it came down to testing it, I took it out to some shows to see what it was capable of. It measures 2 3/8" x 4 5/8" x 27/32", weighs a mere 5.2 ounces (all technical specifications are from Sony's website) and comes with a wrist strap so you don't drop it.
The body of the Bloggie has only three buttons, an on/off slightly recessed switch which you can't fear to hit accidentally, a shutter control to take still pictures (both along the top) and a round record start/stop button next to the screen. All easy to access. And with an accelerometer built in, the camera knows which way it is being held, so the display will orient itself accordingly (which makes this more lefty-friendly).
There is also a tripod mount on the bottom when the camera is oriented vertically. This is the only physically available option, but when it comes to recording or viewing, most people will watch horizontally aligned pictures.
Connection / Software:
Along the bottom, the unit has a covered HDMI (mini) output connection and a flip-out USB connection that allows for recharging and data transfer. Plug it in to charge only or turn it on for syncing. Unfortunately, as a proud Sony owner, I've come to expect the use of proprietary software as the means of accessing my data and the Bloggie Sport doesn't fail me there. This product is not like Sony's IC Recorder but more like their Minidisc players (with SonicStage software) as the Bloggie needs the PlayMemories software to interface on a Windows machine. However, in a nice surprise, on an Apple OS machine, you are golden -- you can just use Finder to drag and drop your content off -- so I chose to go with Apple.
Touch Sensitive Screen:
Despite the small appearance of the buttons on the nicely sized 2.7" LCD screen, they were very responsive to the touch plus an intuitive placement made it easy to use. In the upper left is a display of the amount of video recording time or photo space you have left on the current settings, while a zoom control, LED light toggle and menu button make up the rest of the on screen options all with enough distance between each other.
I found the screen got a bit warm after having it on for a bit, which wasn't ideal. Also there is no way to disable the screen once you have the unit on so that you could say, set it on a tripod and record. It would have been nice if there was a way to disable the constant luminescence so as to not bother others. But, while recording, the only way to tell that you are is by checking the screen as there is no front/physical indicator showing that the unit is operational.
Video / Photo / Audio Quality:
There are three options for JPG photo size (5M 4:3; 3M 16:9; 0.4M 16:9) and four for MP4 video (1080p w/ 30 frames per second; 720p, 60 fps; 720p, 30 fps; 270p, 30 fps) which record onto four gigabytes of internal memory. Unfortunately, there is no expandable memory slot, but you could presume that if there was, Sony would use their proprietary MemoryStick format, so maybe it is for the best.
When recording video, you can also take still pictures, which is a nice option. The following clips and stills will serve as my demonstration of the Bloggie Sport's recording quality on various settings.
1) 720p 60fps (horizontal) - Groove Collective:
My initial test was just to record a longer piece and see how comfortable the unit is. I didn't zoom
2) 720p 60fps (vertical / rotating) - Groove Collective:
I rotated the unit to see if the video would flip accordingly (which it shouldn't and it didn't) but also tapped on the microphone a bit. It is very sensitive to motion and touch, so it picked up too much noise (and tapping didn't help).
3) 1080p 30fps (horizontal) - Groove Collective:
4) 720p 60fps (vertical) - Springsteen:
On this one I purely wanted to get the audio (the video is of a projection screen), and it came out pretty well.
5) More Springsteen.
Video here was never in focus.
6) 720p 30 fps Footage from outdoor performance (vertical):
7) Some more videos are here while select photos will be placed at the bottom (click to go to original / full size). The photos taken while recording didn't seem to come out quite well but some the standalone images came out reasonable
I never got a chance to test the true ruggedness of this device, partly because I couldn't think of any rational use for it outside of the swimming pool. The most I came up with was dropping it in a beer, though ideally I had intended to test it at an outdoor festival where it was raining. Unlike a smartphone, which you would normally keep on you, you'll have to plan to take this out with you. And if you've already got a smartphone with camera capabilities, you might not want to cramp your pocket space with this.
But there are times where you would want to have a rugged camera, such as the pool, beach or a mosh pit and this device is geared towards those active occasions. It is built to survive and it feels like it would. Yet the Bloggie Sport's sensitive microphone will register your hand contact with it possibly ruining some moments.
I did not note the amount of time it took from turning on the Bloggie to recording but the lag was not bad. However, there is a very noticeable lag between when you click to take a picture and when the picture is actually taken -- too much time to capture fast motion.
The Bloggie Sport is a well built and easy to use gadget from a trusted manufacturer, which records high definition video and can go underwater. Those are exciting features come summertime when people are most active outdoors and children could be entrusted to safely use these. Considering my experiences, I rate this a five out of ten (average) on PopMatters scale. Many of the distant clips of Springsteen were out of focus and on other clips the colors didn't seem vibrant. I might have rated it a four if I had to use PlayMemories though or possibly because it is priced a bit higher in its class than its competitors, as often is the case with Sony products. Then again, I might have rated it a six if I tested its durability (the nice brushed front is showing some light wear as is). Overall, the Bloggie Sport is a useable camera that is one of many that fills the void left from the now discontinued Flip camera line.
Sony Product Size Comparison (not taken with Bloggie)
PSP / Bloggie / Voice Recorder: