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There is a lot of competition in the minicamcorder/pocket video camera space. Sony's Bloggie Touch stands out for its design and build quality, which is centered around a 3-inch touch screen. Past Sony models were lacking in the look and feel departments, as well in usability. The Bloggie Touch corrects that by aiming for simplicity and hitting its target. Unfortunately, all that competition means there are similarly priced devices out there with more or better features. Anyone who wants tons of settings and features should look elsewhere. That said, if ease of use and design matter a great deal, you might just like what the Bloggie Touch offers.
Autofocus is one of the big selling points of the Bloggie Touch, since it's something many devices in this category don't have. This allows you to go from shooting something like a whole garden right down to a single flower 4 inches away. The AF isn't all that fast, though, and it's even slower in low-light conditions. And if your subject is moving or you're moving the camera, your video will pulse in and out of focus. Though I don't have a problem with this, some will find it too distracting to be useful. Also, if you're shooting in complete silence, you will hear a faint ticking sound picked up by the mono microphone while it's trying to focus. I know this all sounds bad, but since most minicamcorders can't focus on anything closer than 3 feet from the lens, it's actually a plus to have this feature if you understand the limitations.
The video quality from the Bloggie Touch is very good under the right circumstances. Of course, pocket video cameras such as this can't compete with a full-fledged HD camcorder that costs hundreds of dollars more. There are other factors that go into creating great video beyond high resolution, so if you're considering this for its "full HD" setting, you might want to think twice. While color and exposure are good, the video isn't very sharp and on a large TV looks a bit soft and painterly. It doesn't look bad, but if you're expecting razor-sharp clarity because it's 1080p, you'll likely be disappointed. 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. The upside to the Bloggie Touch is that Sony gives you a 720/60p setting, which smooths things out some if you're shooting action or doing a lot of panning left and right. Lastly, the low-light video is noisy and grainy with readily visible artifacts. I've seen much worse, though, so all in all the Bloggie Touch does all right indoors and in darker conditions.
|Key specs||Sony Bloggie Touch|
|Price (MSRP)||$179.99 (4GB); $199.99 (8GB)|
|Dimensions (HWD)||4.3x2.2x1.2 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||4.4 ounces|
|Storage capacity, type||TS10, 4GB; TS20, 8GB/internal flash memory|
|Resolution, sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.5-inch CMOS|
|LCD size, resolution||3-inch touch-screen LCD, 288K dots|
|Lens||Fixed focal length, f2.8 37mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (video, audio)||H.264 video, stereo AAC audio (MP4)|
|Resolution (highest)||1920x1080 pixels at 30fps (13Mbps; progressive)|
|Image stabilization type||Electronic|
|Battery type, rated life||Built-in lithium ion rechargeable, 70 minutes|
The Bloggie Touch comes in two versions: the TS10 and TS20. The former has 4GB of internal memory, the latter has 8GB; that is the only difference between them. At their lowest recording resolution--720p at 30fps--that gives you about 2 hours and 4 hours of recording space. However, the maximum continuous recording time for a clip is 29 minutes, which is typical for pocket video cameras.
Again, the Bloggie Touch looks quite nice. That's mostly because competing models tend to look and feel cheap and junky. The casing is brushed metal and there's nothing on the front except for the lens. On the back are the 3-inch touch-screen LCD and a record button. The device is held horizontally for shooting wide-screen video, so you can use the whole screen for framing your shots. That's a nice touch; other touch-screen models I've tested let you use the full screen only for playback. The Bloggie Touch does have an autorotation sensor, though, which means if you turn the device vertically so goes your video. Basically you'll get a long, thin portrait video instead of a wide-screen video.
Holding the minicamcorder horizontally puts a power button and shutter release for photos under your right index finger. You can capture photos at up to 12 megapixels when not shooting movies. 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.
At the bottom or right side of the video camera is a pop-out USB connector for transferring files to and from a computer as well as charging the battery. Next to it is a threaded tripod receptacle, which is poor placement because the device has to be positioned horizontally to capture wide-screen video. It should really be on the bottom/left side with the Mini-HDMI port.
|Features||Sony Bloggie Touch|
|Lens cover (auto or manual)||None|
The Mini-HDMI port and USB connector are the only inputs/outputs, by the way, so if you're hoping to connect an external mic or headphones, it won't happen. Some might be disappointed by the battery, too, since it's not removable or replaceable by the user. Also, the only cable that comes with the Bloggie Touch is a USB extension cable; you'll have to supply your own Mini-HDMI cable.
Probably the best part about the Bloggie Touch is that it's easy to use: turn it on and press record. The screen is responsive and really the only reasons to regularly touch it are to change video/photo resolution and to enter playback. There is a slider for the 4x digital zoom, but the resulting video is so bad you won't want to use it. You can activate a self-timer, too, for 2 or 10 seconds, but I'm guessing that won't get used too often either. There's an icon for entering the main menu system, but after the initial setup there's little need to go back to it.
In playback, you get controls for play/pause, fast forward and rewind, volume, deleting photos and videos, and tagging them for sharing on Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube, or with groups of people you've set up using Sony's Personal Space online storage. (Sony gives you a whole 1GB storage for free!) But other than the ability to protect stuff from being deleted off the device, there are no extras like the option to trim clips or add effects.
For the Bloggie Touch, Sony revamped its Picture Motion Browser software that was previously embedded on its minicamcorders and cameras. The new application, simply called Bloggie Software, is attractive and simple. You can't do much with it other than organize, share, and trim video clips. It does those things well enough, but in comparison to what you get on Flip Video or Kodak minicamcorders, the offering is weak. It is, however, available for Windows and Mac computers.
If you're looking for a simple shoot-and-share minicamcorder, the Bloggie Touch is a good option. That is, as long as you understand its limitations.
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