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Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 (Violet) review: Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 (Violet)

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You select stills or video via the rocker switches next to the zoom, and use the joystick to navigate the menus.

As noted, the CM5 uses a removable rechargeable lithium ion battery that Sony says delivers up to 105 minutes of recording time before needing a recharge. For more shooting flexibility, you can purchase additional NP-BK1 batteries. And while the CM5's sound recording seemed better than average, you don't get a mic input that would allow you to add an optional stereo mic like you can with the Kodak Zi8 and Creative Vado HD 3rd Generation.

It's worth noting that the real benefit to shooting 1080p video is when it comes to scaling up your video on your computer screen or HDTV (via the HDMI out). While this HD video doesn't measure up to the video you'd capture with a full-fledged HD camcorder, shooting in 1080p does allow you to play at larger sizes and retain a reasonable amount of detail and sharpness. (The same is true for 720p to a degree.) The only downside is that the file sizes are very large when capturing in 1080p, so it helps to have a higher capacity memory card. Sony says with an 8GB card you get about 80 minutes of video shooting in 1080/30fps, 160 minutes shooting 720/60fps, 240 minutes shooting 720/30fps, and 480 minutes shooting VGA/30fps.

One of the Flip's key selling points has been how easy it is to get videos off the camera and distribute them. Sony's made some improvements in this area, but we still feel pretty negative about the included Picture Motion Browser Portable 5.0 software. A basic version of the software in embedded on the device and runs from the device once you plug the CM5 into your Mac or Windows machine (there is a short, guided configuration). A slightly more full-featured version that you can install--Windows only--comes on a CD and adds the capability to trim clips and extract still frames. Both versions allow for one-touch uploads to YouTube, DailyMotion, Picasa, PhotoBucket, and Shutterfly, so long as you've stored your user name and password for each service. You can also e-mail clips to friends and family.

The software isn't compatible with Windows 7 Starter Edition, 64-bit Windows 7, or OS X, though as always you can drag and drop the files and edit using another package, like iMovie. But you'll likely get confused when you plug the camcorder into your system for file dragging. Because it's got internal memory and virtually two card slots, it mounts rhree different drives onto your system, forcing you to click through each one looking for your files. Two of them have identical file structures--the SD card and Memory Stick--but if you, for example, recorded to SD the "drive" with the Memory Stick will simply look like it's got empty directories. This isn't a deal-killer--once you've figured it out it's just an annoyance--but it's not terribly user-friendly. It's also annoying that you've got to keep the LCD flipped out to turn the camcorder on while connected to a system; not a huge deal if you use an extension cable and keep the camcorder on a desk, but with the camcorder directly plugged in and hanging off the USB port, it looks like an accident waiting to happen.

All in all, the whole sharing process is much more user-friendly when using the Flip Video camcorders, and for Sony to get to the next level in the pocket camera arena, it does need to spend a little time watching people use these things.

That said, the Bloggie CM5 is the first Sony mincamcorder we feel good enough about to recommend at this price point. Yes, it does have some shortcomings, and it isn't as compact as something like the Flip Video Mino HD, Kodak Zi8, or Creative Vado HD. But the video quality is superior in some ways to what those models offer, the 5x optical zoom and close focus comes in handy, and the flexibility of removable memory and battery is important to some buyers.

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