The fact that most people are packing high-quality camcorders in their mobile phones may mean that the mini-camcorder is less appealing. Sony clearly sees some life in the old dog and has thrown a new guy into the ring, offering simple operation and a waterproof body.
The Sony Bloggie Sport is available from March for £180.
The Bloggie Sport is designed as a rough-and-tumble-throw-it-at-your-siblings mini-camcorder. As such, you'd be right to expect it to be able to put up with the sort of attacks it's likely to face on an average family holiday.
Thankfully then, the Bloggie Sport is not only dustproof, but shockproof as well. Sony wasn't able to say exactly to what degree it's shockproof, but the tough rubber casing around the metal chassis left us confident it could put up with a few falls to the floor. If you're planning on letting one tumble from your pocket down a mountainside though, you might want to keep a second on standby.
It's also waterproof to 5 metres, which will be a crucial feature for those of you who want to shoot beautiful footage of tropical fish. It will be a helpful extra to the rest of you who just want to film your toes in the bath. The waterproofing makes the Bloggie Sport a great choice for snow sports enthusiasts who want to capture their best tricks, but often find themselves upside-down in deep powder.
We found the build quality to be generally very good, with no plasticky bits hanging off that might snap. We only had a brief time with it though, so we'll have to reserve judgement on its durability until we get one in for a full review and treat it mercilessly. For the sake of science.
With a length of 117mm and a width of 60mm, it's big enough to sit in your hand comfortably, but not so big as to make your trouser pocket bulge out embarrassingly -- it's 21mm thick. It weighs 148g too, which isn't going to weigh you down if you've got it stashed in your rucksack.
There's a 2.7-inch LCD screen on the back to help you frame your shot and to check out the crazy antics you've just been filming. It's a much lower resolution than the beautiful OLED panels we've seen in some cameras, but it's perfectly adequate for making sure you got the shot you wanted.
On the bottom of the camera is a flap that conceals an HDMI port for viewing your cherished footage on a big TV, as well as a flip-out USB connector for transferring your files to a PC. It's pretty handy having the USB connector built in to the camera as it means you don't have to take a cable away on holiday (and inevitably lose it). It will, however, make fitting the camera into a USB port more awkward.
The Bloggie Sport is designed to be as simple to use as possible, allowing you to forget about all those tricky manual settings and just get on with filming the action, in 1080p resolution, as it happens.
In our brief hands-on time, we were pretty pleased with the operation. The camera starts up very quickly and there's just one big red button that triggers the video recording almost instantly. The size of the button will make starting and stopping recording much easier -- especially if you're wearing gloves while snowboarding.
With the USB interface, getting your movies off the Sport will hopefully be a very simple drag-and-drop procedure, as it is on Sony's Bloggie Touch. Even those of you who are terminally afraid of technology should be able to manage it.
The Sport comes with 4GB of built-in memory, which Sony reckons will allow for up to 2 hours of full HD video. Annoyingly, there's no slot for any kind of expandable memory, so you're either going to have to be careful about how much you're filming, or just download all your files off the camera at the end of each day.
There's a shutter button on top of the camera that takes 5-megapixel still images, if you don't fancy having everything in motion. It's not as big and chunky as the movie button so you might want to take your time when composing your image.
Sony has used an f/2.4 lens on the Sport, which it reckons lets a lot of light in, so hopefully the footage you capture will appear bright and colourful. We weren't able to actually see the quality of footage so we'll have to reserve judgement for our full review. But the video quality from the Bloggie Touch was pretty decent so we're hoping for similar results from the Sport.
The Bloggie Sport won't challenge the pro-level video cameras in terms of features and quality, but its simple interface and sturdy, waterproof body is likely to appeal to families at the beach or the extreme sports enthusiast who regularly finds his or her camera submerged in water.
Stay tuned for a full review soon.