Sony Bloggie MHS-TS20K review
Cisco’s decision to cease the manufacture of Flip pocket video cameras came as a big disappointment; the products have been firm favourites in the PC Pro offices for a few years now, due to class-leading image quality and ease of use. But one man’s loss is another’s gain, so the saying goes, and other manufacturers are stepping in with their own products in the hope of grabbing some market share.
The Sony Bloggie MHS-TS20K is the first model we’ve reviewed in the post-Flip era, and it bears all the classic hallmarks of the pocket video camera genre. It has a pop out USB arm and a good dollop of built-in memory (8GB). Sony’s video and picture management software is stored onboard ready for direct installation, and there’s a big red button on the rear panel for starting and stopping video recording. This camera does move things on a bit, however, and there are a number of areas where it pulls ahead of the last generation Flip UltraHD.
Where that camera could only muster 720p HD footage, for example, the Sony is able to record 1080p; where the Flip has 2in screen, the Sony sports a 3in display; and where the Flip was built all of plastic, the Bloggie is encased in luxurious aluminium. It’s a beautifully made thing and tops off the luxury feel with a couple of real crowd-pleasers: the display is also touch-sensitive (using capacitive technology); and included in the box is a rather ingenious 360 degree converter lens. You can see some sample footage below.
The latter is a real masterstroke: it latches on to the top of the camera, snapping snugly into position with the help of a magnet or two, and allows you to shoot true 360 degree video. It doesn’t look very impressive on screen as you shoot – footage appears in a small circle in the middle of the frame. Anyone familiar with cheap Lomography fisheye cameras will be familiar with this sort of output.
Import it into Sony’s Bloggie software, however, and when you double-click the footage, a special 360 degree viewer pops up. This shows a live panoramic thumbnail view at the bottom of the window and a bigger box at the top, displaying a section of the 360 degree view at full resolution. Drag a navigation box left and right on the panoramic thumbnail and the box at the top pans left and right through the view (the screenshot below should make things clearer).
|Camcorder HD standard||1080p|
|Camcorder maximum video resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Camera megapixel rating||12.8mp|
|Camcorder recording format||MPEG-4|
|Camera optical zoom range||N/A|
|Camera optical image stabilisation||no|
|Electronic image stabilisation?||yes|
|Number of sensors||1|
|Internal mic type||mono|
|External mic socket?||no|
|Quoted battery life||160mins|
|Dimensions||52.2 x 15 x 107.3mm (WDH)|
|Camcorder internal storage type||Flash memory|
|Memory card support||N/A|
|Composite video output?||no|
|Component video output?||no|