Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: 8GB Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Pocket HD Camcorder

Flip may be the leader of the pack when it comes to pocket camcorders however several companies including Creative, Kodak, JVC, Pentax and Sony are gunning for that top spot. Sony has a few products on the market today that are competing for the crown but the latest gadget from the electronics giant, the Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20, is the one the company hopes can knock Flip from its throne.

Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Features
  • 8GB Internal Memory (4 GB on the MHS-TS10)
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • 12.8MP Digital Still Images
  • Full 1080P Video Resolution at 1920 x 1080
  • 3" Capacitive Touch-Screen
  • Sony Face detection Technology
  • Sony SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Outputs - Mini HDMI and Flip-out USB Arm

First Thoughts

When I was first introduced to the Bloggie Touch I was immediately impressed not only by the specs but the look and feel of this little camcorder. Specs wise the Bloggie Touch is at the top tier and I could almost say second to none in this category. Most gadgets in the pocket camcorder category only shoot in 720p and very few feature still image capabilities let alone the ability to shoot at 12MPs. Add to that the Touch's brushed metal case and that big 3" touch screen and you have a device that, on paper at least, WOWS you.

Using The Bloggie Touch

Now you may notice I said on paper that is because the 'wow factor' quickly dissipated for me. The metal case and that extra sharp touchscreen are nice but they are fingerprint magnets. I found myself constantly cleaning smudges from the screen and the back of the case. Something that grew more and more tiresome as the days went on.

The overall size and shape are nice the device measures just 2 1/8" x 4 1/4" x 5/8" and weighs a scant 4.4oz (125g). This is considerably smaller than most of the Flips and other similar devices. Unlike the square shape of the Flips the Bloggie Touch features a curved back which made for an almost perfect for carrying in any pocket. This curvature also gave it a better feel when holding it.

Sadly button layout was not thought out well. You have a large center facing record button for videos yet the button for shooting stills in on the side fairly close to the power button. Several times I powered the device off instead of snapping a photo. The microphone was placed higher on the same side and quickly became a favorite target of my finger when I was shooting anything on the horizontal.

Sony was nice enough to include a section on the manual giving users suggestions on holding the Bloggie but what self respecting Geek would read the manual?

Video and Image Quality

So we are down to the nuts and bolts of it. Does the Bloggie provide high quality videos and images?

If you are in a well lit area not trying to shoot anything further than 5-6 feet away or anything that moves much you will love your Bloggie Touch. The true 1080p videos come out very crisp with a good sharp quality. Images are decent, I wouldn't say they are bad just not as good as I'd like. Unfortunately the real down side comes in to play if like me you like to shoot in less than perfect lighting and shoot action shots. Here is were the Bloggie really fails and you will not be impressed.

For starters there is no flash so pictures in anything but great lighting will not turn out. Most of the devices in the category don't have the ability to shot pictures nor do they have a flash so that may not be the deal breaker for some that it was for me. The image below was taken side by side, one with plenty of light, the other with basic lighting as you'd get in a nightclub or other night time environment.

As you can tell the quality with good lighting is decent however the image in a dark setting is horrible! For videos you can get by with less light than you can for photos as they tend to turn out a little brighter. The auto-focus will have a much worse response time but your videos will be slightly more viewable.

While I'm discussing the auto-focus I should mention that I found it very lacking. With only slight movement my Bloggie Touch would want to re-focus on something other than what I was shooting. There also seemed to be a fairly noticeable amount of lag when initially focusing on a subject.

Shooting in good lighting conditions with a subject that wasn't moving much produced a very high quality video. All the detail and crispness expected with 1080p video was definitely there. Because of the issues with the auto-focus I found shooting actions shots lacking due to the videos fading in and out occasionally or focusing off subject. Picture quality in well lit situations was ok just not great. Sony's products have a reputation for high quality images and in my opinion the Bloggie fails to live up to that reputation.

My Conclusion

I'm very critical of my gadgets, especially the ones that cost $200, so I might be overly critical of the Sony Bloggie Touch. I know these devices aren't meant to do everything and aren't loaded with the same features you find in a camcorder, nor should they be. Having visited and reading some of the reviews I just expected so much more. Many of the reviews give it higher rankings than I could ever give it.

I will say I was impressed by the design, one area that the Bloggie clearly excels. I was also impressed by the on-board software and user interface. The ability to tag items for upload directly to Facebook or YouTube was nice.

Sadly none of that overcomes the shortfalls I found in the function of the Bloggie.

One major suggestion is that you buy a longer USB Extension Cable as the one included in the box is only about three inches long and is pretty much worthless. I says this because I for one don't like the idea of my Bloggie hanging out of my USB port by the USB arm. Accidents happen and I'd hate to ruin something either in the Bloggie or on my PC.


  1. Indeed, the Flip style camcorders, including this Sony, all perform better than any camcorder function in a cell phone. It offers a higher resolution, more capability, and ease of use over an iPhone. But to address some other comments, I need to remind prospective users that specs are one thing and actual performance is another. While this and other small camcorders may record 1080p, this doesn't mean it will create an image equal to more capable recorders. In reality, a 720p consumer handheld will show better. A professional SD camera at 480i will outperform it. When buying such a recorder, you are buying convenience, small form factor, and ease-of-use. You get a competent little camera with a surprisingly good image. But don't fool yourself into believing you are getting what a more higher-grade camera such as a Sony CX-550 can deliver. And certainly, you aren't shooting with a pro grade camera despite its 1080p designation.

  2. Anonymous8:32 PM

    I just bought one. Very disappointed. So I was hoping for a fix of some kind to improve the performance. I would never recommend this product. Very bad for a Sony. I am a Sony fan, just so you know.


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