Sony Bloggie Live review: Hands-on

Dedicated video cam with livestreaming over wifi breaks cover

What is a hands on review?
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Is there still room for dead-simple and dedicated video shooters in this age of the smartphone? Sony seems to think so and just unveiled a brand-new addition to the company’s line of Bloggie cameras, in the form of the Sony Bloggie Live. The new model packs built-in Wi-Fi that allows for live-streaming of video, as well as a lot of easy sharing options for sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Picasa.

Sony Bloggie Live: Build

Sony knows how to design and build gorgeous gadgets, and the Sony Bloggie Live is by far the best-looking Bloggie yet, showing a marked improvement in aesthetics since the Sony Bloggie 3D. A rectangular shape defines the design, with rounded edges, sharp corners and curved brushed-metal front.

It's a slim, stylish and solid little device at roughly the size of an iPhone and weighing in at about 150 grams. On the back there's a

3-inch touch screen and a huge Record button, and on the right-hand side there’s a mini HDMI port for hooking up the cam to your telly.

The power button is on the left-hand side next to the shutter release for taking still shots, and the two are placed very close together. The bottom of the device houses a retractable USB arm, which the Bloggie uses to both sync and to charge.

Sony Bloggie Live: Features

The star of the show is the built-in Wi-Fi connection that lets you stream video straight to Qik Video, the mobile video-sharing service owned by Skype. Bloggie Live captures full HD video with a stereo mic and 12.8 megapixel stills, and both can be uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and Dailymotion.

The streamed video will automatically be saved and available for playback from Qik.com while the original HD copy is recorded to the camera’s internal eight gigs of memory for later uploading or viewing.

We managed to stream a live performance of the US pop music duo, Karmin, playing a gig at the Sony booth. The live stream was playing on Qik.com in VGA quality but Sony tells us that with a premium account and a decent amount of upload bandwidth, you’ll get the joy of streaming your clips in 720p HD resolution.

There's 8GB of storage inside the Bloggie Live, letting you shoot just about three hours of 1080p footage, though with Wi-Fi enabled the battery runs out of juice in roughly one hour.

Sony Bloggie Live: Performance

You can shoot in 1080p with 30 frames per second or 720p with 60 frames per second and, while colours are crisp and clean, we felt the picture usually ended up looking a tad darker than what it actually was. Autofocus is annoyingly slow, taking upwards of a couple of seconds to refocus, and don’t even think about playing around with the zoom function – it’s digital and looks horrible. Audio recording is good without distortion.

We tried shooting a few 12MP photos with the Bloggie Live, and the results can be summed up as 'average'. Outdoors and in good light you should be able to get decent pictures but inside our test shots ended up looking grainy and blurry. Nothing to see here, move along.

Sony Bloggie Live: Verdict

If you’ve got a decent smartphone in your pocket, it’s hard to argue why you should spend $249 on Sony Bloggie Live, though we’re impressed that Sony managed to add live streaming and sharing options while retaining dead-simple operations. Its greatest strengths are its ease of use and great design, but the disappointing battery life and still images are something of a deal breaker.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.