I remember groaning when Sony introduced us to its Webbie branding for MPEG-4 camcorders last year; this year's redubbing them as "bloggie" (complete with lower case "b") leaves me dumbfounded. Sony says the target audience for these models is 16-28-year-olds and moms aged 25-40; I guess those demographics must be intimidated by products with names that end in consonant sounds, or they don't realize that blogs live on the Web. If anyone out there can tell me why "bloggie" might succeed where "Webbie" implicitly failed, please have at it in the comments.
Branding issues aside, Sony's replacing last year's MHS-PM1 and MHS-CM1 with the PM5 and CM5. Both now record real 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution HD (recorded as H.264 compressed MPEG-4), support SDHC cards, add a new 60fps 720p mode, and the underwhelming Picture Motion Browser Portable will now run on the .
The PM5 is the more Flip-traditional candy-bar-style minicamcorder, whose most notable design feature is the vertically rotating lens. Sony did address some of the complaints we had for this model: though the lens and sensor are the same as before, it now includes a flip-out USB cable that it can charge through and a larger 2.4-inch LCD display. It will come in purple, blue, pink, and white.
That model will run $169.99, which is a surprisingly competitive price. Sony plans to ship an additional $189.99 bundle (MHS-PM5K) of this camcorder with a 360-degree panorama lens (it essentially shoots very, very wide-angle videos that you can pan around with Sony's software) and a 4GB Memory Stick Duo. Sony does not currently intend to ship a standalone upgrade kit with the lens.
Scrapping the vertical design of last year's CM1, Sony has opted to follow manufacturers like Sanyo and Aiptek and redesign its zoom-capable model with a pistol grip. The $199.99 MHS-CM5 will have the same sensor and 2.5-inch LCD as its predecessor, and a similar 5X zoom lens, but also adds an HDMI connector and the capability to charge via the attached USB cable.
Both the camcorders will ship this January.
Sony is also launching a new content-sharing service this Spring. I can only guess that the memory of ImageStation's shuttering is no longer fresh in its institutional memory. Or perhaps there just aren't enough choices out there.