High Def shooting pocket camcorders may not yet offer the picture or sound quality of full sized models, but the trade off is a smaller form factor. Hence you’re more likely to use it as part of the everyday.
Increasingly they not only feature large internal drives and batteries, but also integral USB connectors, for hassle free ‘plug and play’ recharging and downloading, as pioneered by the cheap-as-chips Flip Video.
If Sony’s latest Full HD Bloggie Touch device, incorporating all of the above into a handset-sized chassis, is anything to go by future generations will be a lot more stylish and better built.
This device’s sleek brushed aluminium finish is important, as competition among ‘candy bar’ camcorders is the stiffest yet. The Touch squares up against the Flip UltraHD, Aiptek 3D i2, JVC GC-FM2, Panasonic HM-TA1 and Sanyo Xacti VPC-CA100 to name key players. And at £219 it is toward the top end for such a device.
Sony Bloggie Touch: Controls
Video or 12.8 megapixel photos are composed via a reasonably clear 3-inch touch screen that like JVC’s GC-FM2 swallows up most of its backplate, leaving space for just a springy record button beneath. A separate shutter release button for photographs is nestled next to the on/off button at one side.
Because the screen display is presented in widescreen format it appears even larger than its stated dimensions. Function icons are sufficiently large and well spaced to be activated with a finger tap too.
We found it more comfortable to turn the Touch horizontally on its side to record video or shoot snaps, rather than holding it upright. This also neatly places the shutter release button for taking snaps at your fingertip, whilst giving a more accurate impression of how the footage will actually look when viewed on your desktop or HDTV. Holding the Touch horizontally also means it can be steadied using both hands, as it’s hard to avoid a shaky image otherwise due to slimline proportions and lack of any grip.
If however you do operate the Touch vertically the picture appears oddly elongated, as it fills the entire screen rather than being cropped with black bands top and bottom. Commendably, as you tilt the device one way or another the screen display and controls also flip to match the new aspect ratio.
With screen icons and even 4x digital zoom slider being quick to respond in real time, operation is as fluid and intuitive as we could have hoped for; this is a device that can be powered up and used straightway, without recourse to any manual.
Sony Bloggie Touch: Features
Not only is the Sony Bloggie Touch more streamlined and less obviously plastic-y than its rivals, it also offers the unique potential of 360° filming courtesy of a Heath Robinson style circular attachment that clips onto its top plate, also the location of its tiny auto focus lens. Clip the plastic unit on, the camera automatically switches to 360 video mode and you can be shooting perspective-warping footage right away. Fun for five minutes perhaps, gimmicky definitely.
As mentioned at the outset, the Touch incorporates a flip-out USB ‘arm’, located unobtrusively at its base, released with a gentle press and returned with a nicely firm click. Avoiding the need for extraneous cabling snaking around your desktop, it makes for compactness and convenience.
The Touch further features a 8GB internal memory that Sony claims is good for storing up to four hours of footage if recording at 1280x720 pixels and 30 frames per second. There’s a 29-minute limit to any continuous sequence however. And, while we get HDMI output via a flap at the side, there’s no standard AV out port. Likewise there’s no card slot to expand the internal memory.
Sony Bloggie Touch: Image Quality
Despite the Touch’s high-ish pixel count, it’s twinned with a lens that, to be harsh, is like something out of a Xmas cracker. So JPEG photo quality is little better than you’re probably already getting from a phone camera, though fine for fun snaps.
The lens is inevitably more forgiving when shooting lower resolution MPEG4 video – remember, even Full HD equates to a ‘mere’ two megapixels – which we were pretty pleased with in terms of colours and sound, particularly given that this is a sub £200 device (online).
We can envisage the Bloggie Touch’s ideal audience as being teens and twentysomethings who will lap up the lurid lollypop pink of our review sample or more sophisticated silver and black alternatives. In combination with our above observations the Bloggie Touch, whilst not perfect at every turn, has ideal Christmas gifting potential for such a market.
Our only churlish quibble is that if it looks like a phone and, to an extent handles like a phone camera, why not just stick with your existing phone which probably already has a decent stills and video capability? That said, the Bloggie Touch is, for us, currently the coolest pocket cam out there.
Sony Bloggie Touch release date: Out now, link Sony
Sony Bloggie Touch price: £179-£219