Review : Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K

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Who would have thought that a HD camera could be so small these days? First the Flip does it and now many other competitors are lining up trying to take a stake in that market; and Sony is no exception with its Bloggie camera line – the model we got is the MHS-PM5K, and we did a piece on it during our CES 2010 coverage.

Now it has landed in Australia, and TECHGEEK.com.au has a review (I think the first of the year – wow, has it been that long?)

  • Score:

    8.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Excellent for panoramas, video quality, SD and Memory Stick support

  • The Bad:

    Mono mic, USB dongle awkward and fragile, screen size wasted with info.

  • Bottom Line:

    Cheap video camera to record memories in HD

While the name sounds ridiculous, it doesn’t have an over-the-top look – similar to many of Sony’s cameras – and features a lens head that can be rotated to 270-degrees, so you can record your friends, the sky or yourself, all in 1980×1080 resolution. In second thoughts, you might not want to record yourself in that resolution. It also features three lesser resolutions (1280×720 60p/30p and VGA), so if you feel that you look ugly in full HD, you can switch to a different resolution. The camera also has different modes, but again, that depends on the megapixels. The maximum is 5 megapixels, so it’s going to be either better or the same as your phone.

The interface is pretty simple, just a few buttons controlling the menus, playback and there is also two buttons on the side – one for shooting photos, another for recording video. There is also a five-wave controller that allows you to go through the menus. The 2.4-inch screen, despite being big, is not utilised to its full size when recording video or shooting photos, as most of that is taken up by the camera’s information and the time and date. Playback mode allows you to take advantage of the screen, especially in landscape mode. It is not a touch sensitive screen either, so you are pretty much stuck using buttons – if you happen to hate buttons.

Like the Flip, it does have a USB dongle, but can be a bit tedious when you are plugging it directly to your PC – and your USB ports are either in the back or at the very bottom of the case. But have no fear, there is a USB cord that comes with it. While the design is sturdy, the USB dongle is very flimsy and it feels so fragile, especially when you have to slide it out with a plastic slider, that I would recommend using the USB cable than the dongle – until you lose your cable.

While the photos are excellent quality, the video quality can differ from what you see on the small screen to the big screen, especially when zooming in (which is not, thankfully, available when you select the 1080p option). Despite having image stabilisation, it is a bit jittery, and the colours are a bit dimmer. Sharpness levels are not really good, and low-level lighting is alright – but again, not really good. The included 360-degree lens may be a bit of a gimmick, as you will record some image with a huge black spot in the middle, but it does record the 360 degree view of where you are – however looks can be decieving.

Sound is provided by a mono microphone, but it still is alright. Most likely you will not tell the difference, though I could be wrong. However, there is no way to improve this.

Included is a portable version of PMB (Picture Mostion Browser 5) – but that only just a way to upload images and videos to YouTube and Picasa; while the full version is included via a CD. With this, you can actually convert that photo or video using that 360-degree video into a really-wide panoramic video/photo. You are also given the option to edit videos.

Memory-wise, you can save your videos on the flash memory – which is 26MB, not much for a HD camera – but that is expandable by an SD card or Memory Stick PRO Duo card (a 4GB Memory Stick PRO Duo card is included).

Despite the fact that the USB dongle is flimsy, video quality is alright and the weird name, it’s a decent camera, and if you’re looking for a cheap way to record those family moments and use that big plasma/LCD television you have, you might go for this option – however, don’t zoom. Never zoom, because digital zoom on 1280×720 HD resolution is not good.