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Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K review: Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K

Bigger than its competitors, the Bloggie rewards with its novel swivelling lens head, decent video quality and 360-degree panoramic lens attachment.

Derek Fung
Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.
Derek Fung
5 min read


When Flip launched its Mino range of mini-camcorders down under last year, it was a sign for other manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon. And the latest company on board is Sony with its Bloggie MHS-PM5K.


Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K

The Good

Lens head swivels through 270 degrees. Good video quality. Supports Memory Stick and SD/SDHC. 360-degree panoramic view lens attachment.

The Bad

USB dongle awkward for desktops, monitors. Screen real estate wasted, viewing angles too shallow. Mono-only sound, no mic jack.

The Bottom Line

Bigger than its competitors, the Bloggie rewards with its novel swivelling lens head, decent video quality and 360-degree panoramic lens attachment.

Despite its cringe-worthy name, the Bloggie — unlike JVC's Picsio GC-FM1 — doesn't resort to dressing itself up in chrome and glitter to make itself standout. Instead it features a lens head that can swivel through 270 degrees, allowing you to easily record the ceiling, yourself or someone else.

On the back the Bloggie features a 2.4-inch, 230k-pixel LCD screen. Though large by mini-camcorder standards, the screen is in a portrait orientation, meaning that about half of the available real estate is given over to camera info rather than what's currently streaming into the image sensor. In some situations, like harsh sunlight or poorly lit rooms with bright external light, the glossy screen is prone to distracting reflections. More often, though, you'll be cursing the screen's extremely shallow viewing angle; if your eyes stray more than 10 or 15 degrees off-centre, objects will begin turning into ghoulish visions and recording becomes a game of chance.

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K screen

Most of the available screen space is given over to camera info.
(Credit: Sony)


Unlike the screens used in the Handycam line, the Bloggie's isn't a touch sensitive. Instead, underneath is a five-way controller flanked by Menu and Play buttons. As manual settings are strictly verboten, these buttons do what little they need to do quite well. In an odd twist, literally, the detailed settings, as well as the photo and video grid view, are shown in landscape orientation.

The photo shutter and video recording buttons, as well as the zoom rocker, are located to the right of the screen, but were a bit of a stretch for our dainty hands. Photos can be shot at any time; a half press will resize the screen to fit the photo's framing, while a full press will snap it.

Should something interesting happen as you're mucking around with the settings or playing back footage, shooting or filming will always take priority. Although, strangely, you have to press shoot or record once to get out of the menu system and then once more to get it to do its thing.


A slide and flip door on the Bloggie's left-hand side hides a replaceable battery (unique for this type of camera) and a card slot that accepts either Sony's proprietary Memory Stick or the more common SD/SDHC format. A 4GB Memory Stick card is supplied and should be sufficient for 40 minutes of video or 1600 photos at full size. The battery takes about 300 minutes to achieve a full charge and should last between 60 and 135 minutes, according to Sony, depending on usage.

The base features a tripod mount that's not aligned with the centre of the lens, as well as a slider that allows the USB connector to appear from the bottom right corner. It's neither as funky nor as lethal as Flip's switchblade-style arrangement, but then again it works perfectly with most laptop USB ports. It will still dangle precariously from desktop computers and monitor hubs though, while the supplied extension cable makes a mockery of half its name.

Thanks to the design of the Bloggie's dongle, slider and extension cable, should a passing butterfly flap its wings, it's likely that the data connection will be lost. Oddly, when you shove a Bloggie into a computer you have to press the Play button to see all of the unit's drives (memory card, internal storage and supplied software) — if you don't, you'll only see the internal storage, which can only hold a few photos at best.

360-degree panoramic view lens attachment

All Australia-bound Bloggies come with this 360-degree view lens attachment.
(Credit: Sony)

All Australia-bound units come with a 360-degree view lens attachment, hence the K suffix. In the box, alongside the aforementioned not-so-extension cord, battery pack and Memory Stick is the de rigueur composite AV cable (a component cable is an optional extra), a wrist strap and Picture Motion Browser 5 (PMB) on CD.


This latest version of PMB allows PC users to convert footage shot with the 360-degree view attachment into an extremely wide panoramic video, trim video clips, upload content to YouTube and Picasa Web Albums, as well as organise videos and photos shot on Sony equipment. The version supplied on the camera itself, PMB Portable for both Windows and Mac, focuses on transferring photos and videos to a waiting computer or to the previously mentioned websites. YouTube uploads are eventually rendered in "HD" and are good enough for both bloggers or those wanting to share baby's first words with the world.

The Bloggie can capture video in four different resolutions: 1920x1080 30p, 1280x720 in 60p and 30p, and 640x480 30p. Video is encoded in H.264-compressed MPEG-4 and quality is surprisingly good for a Flip-style camcorder, with less artefacts and more detail (not to mention more resolution) than the 720p MinoHD. Sound from the mono microphone is adequate, but there's no way to improve it as there's no microphone jack.

Sony's Picture Motion Browser software will upload the Bloggie's video in "HD" quality.

Detail levels are good for this class of camera, but unsurprisingly the Bloggie falls a fair way short of sharpness levels seen on even the cheapest brand-name HD camcorders. Low light performance is just passable, with graininess setting in early. Panoramic videos shot with the 360-degree lens attachment are novel and interesting, but suffer from internal light reflection, as can be seen here about a fifth of the way up.

Colours are on the mute side, but we prefer that to having our eyes bleed with gruesome greens, searing blues and gouging reds. There's a flicker suppression mode to quell the flicker of neon lights; it works decently when shooting in a neon-lit room, but fails for faraway signs. Digital zoom isn't available when shooting at 1920x1080 30p and, when available, should be avoided as it not only looks awful, but is jerky to boot too.

Given its greater size and heft, it is significantly easier to steadily handhold the PM5K than the Flip MinoHD or JVC Picsio GC-FM1. Digital image stabilisation is available for lower video resolutions (1280x720 30p and 640x480 30p only), but in our testing it induced more shake than it took away. Despite the noticeable noise at 100 per cent, still images are around the standard of better camera phones and should prove suitable for Facebook and Twitter.


It's not as small or compact as its competition, but if you can spare the extra pocket space then the Bloggie will reward you with its swivelling lens head, decent video quality and 360-degree panoramic view lens attachment.