The Sony Bloggie Live HD seems like a last-ditch effort to keep the minicamcorder category relevant as smartphones and point-and-shoots and other small video devices squeeze them out of the market.
The Live's big hook: built-in Wi-Fi that let's you live stream video to Qik.com for others to watch while simultaneously recording in full HD to the device. The Wi-Fi can also be used to directly connect to your smartphone so you can view, transfer, and upload clips and photos using your phone's data service. You can also use it to upload to sites like Facebook and YouTube as well as Sony's newest cloud service, PlayMemories Online.
The wireless capabilities are definitely cool (though not without issues), so if all that sounds good and you're after better than "good enough" video results from a shoot-and-share video camera, you'll want to keep reading.
|Key specs||Sony Bloggie Live HD|
|Dimensions (HWD)||4.5 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||4.8 ounces|
|Storage capacity, type||8GB internal flash memory|
|Resolution, sensor size, type||12.8 megapixel, 1/2.5-inch CMOS|
|LCD size, resolution||3-inch touch-screen LCD, 230K dots|
|Lens||Fixed focal length, f2.8 37mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (video, audio)||H.264 video, stereo AAC audio (.MP4)|
|Resolution (highest)||1,920x1,080 pixels at 30fps (15Mbps; progressive)|
|Image stabilization type||Electronic|
|Battery type, rated life||Built-in lithium ion rechargeable, 80 minutes|
|Software||PlayMemories Home (Windows); PlayMemories Uploader (Mac)|
The video quality from the Bloggie Live can be very good as long as you and your subject aren't moving much. When shooting at 1080p, video is reasonably sharp and detailed without looking crunchy. Color and exposure are good as well. However, that's when viewed at smaller sizes on a computer screen. Blown up on a larger HDTV, the video is less impressive. Also, it doesn't handle movement--of the subject or of the device--very well at 1080p, creating a lot of judder. That's unfortunately typical of this type of video camera, though. Maximum recording time in full HD is 75 minutes, by the way, with clip lengths limited to 2GB or 29 minutes (which is typical, too).
The Bloggie Live does have a 720/60p setting, which smooths things out some if you're shooting action or doing a lot of panning left and right, but it's at the cost of sharpness and fine detail. Again, it's fine at small sizes, but not good on a large HDTV. The low-light video is noisy and grainy with readily visible artifacts. I've seen much worse, though, so all in all the Bloggie Live does OK indoors and in darker conditions. There is an LED lamp next to the lens that will brighten close subjects some, but don't expect it to light a full scene.
Photo quality is pretty good as long as you have plenty of light. Shooting is completely automatic; just press the shutter release on top and you're done. If you press the release while recording video, it will capture a photo at whatever resolution you're recording at, roughly 2 megapixels at 1080p or 0.9 megapixel at 720p. (Note: You can't capture photos while live streaming.)
The Live does have autofocus and an auto macro mode for both video and photos, but it's a blessing and a curse. You can shoot something as close as 4 inches from the lens out to infinity. But depending on your movement or your subject's, your video might pulse in and out of focus. The AF isn't all that fast, either, and it's even slower in low-light conditions. Also, if you're shooting in complete silence, you will hear a faint ticking sound picked up by the stereo microphone while it's trying to focus.
I know this sounds like a lot more bad than good, but even with all these issues, the video is still better than you'll get from your average--or even above average--smartphone. At least right now.
|Features||Sony Bloggie Live|
|Focus||Auto (4 inches to infinity)|
|Lens cover (auto or manual)||None|
As for the Wi-Fi functionality, it's cool, but it largely depends on where and how you plan to use it. The live streaming requires a strong and reliable wireless connection, and, at least in the case of my review camera, as few other wireless signals as possible.
I tried several times to connect and stream using three public hot spots in New York City (there's a built-in minibrowser for agreeing to terms of service) and almost as soon as I would connect, it would drop the signal. And then pick it up again. And then drop it. This also happened in CNET's New York office where there are more than a dozen networks I can connect to from my desk. I would connect to a network and I could be standing right next to the router and the connection would drop out. However, in my home, where there's just one wireless network, it locked on and stayed connected.
Once you start live streaming, there's a slight delay of a few seconds and, again, as long as you have a solid connection, the video plays smoothly. People viewing at Qik.com can leave comments that appear in real time on the Live's screen. The video is streamed and stored on Qik, but the Live simultaneously captures HD video to the device.