Pocket camcorders have come a long way since the plasticky, standard def, oh-so-simple Flip hit the market in 2007 – and the Sony Bloggie Touch is testament to that. Clad in a brushed-aluminium jacket and rocking a touchscreen and Exmor CMOS sensor, it’s able to snaffle up Full HD, 1920x1080p clips at 30fps and feels all the way like a premium product.
That means a premium price tag, of course, and at almost £220 it does smack the wallet around a little more than most of its rivals. Shop around and you might find it online for a more palatable £185.
Sony has concentrated on keeping the Bloggie Touch simple. You could even call it “idiot friendly”. There’s a single button on the front for recording video and two more on the side: one for power and one to snap still photos.
All other controls are taken care of by tapping the touchscreen, but even there, there isn’t a lot to confuse you. You can choose between three different video formats (1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps and 720 at 30fps), three still photo formats (12MP 4:3, 8MP 16:9, 2MP 16:9), flip on a two- or ten-second self-timer, zoom digitally up to 4x via dragging your finger across a slider or jump into playback mode.
The touch interface isn’t as reassuringly responsive as an iOS device, and at times a poke frustratingly fails to register, but in general it’s OK. You can swipe your finger to scroll through the settings menu and your library of photos and clips.
Hit the record button and the bloggie leaps into life quickly, capturing video in your chosen format. A sensor maintains either portrait or landscape orientation, whichever you’re using when you start recording. The autofocus works fairly swiftly in good light, but struggles in murkier conditions – we had trouble getting it to lock onto anything properly in a pretty well-lit Barcelona plaza.
Image quality is great by pocket camcorder standards, but its 1080p footage is in a far lower league than the equivalent video from the Sony A33. If you expect the Bloggie to give your home movies a Hollywood sheen you’ll be disappointed, but if crisp, clear clips for YouTube or Vimeo are what you seek, it fits the bill.
It’s a similar story with still shots. Get the lighting right and they look sharp, with accurate colours. Gloomier conditions lead to a lot of speckly noise, slower autofocus and more often than not, a blurry snap.
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The one truly unique feature the Bloggie has is its 360-degree add-on lens, which lets you video an all-around panorama. This is filmed as a ring-shaped clip, which is then converted to a 360 degree ultra-widescreen clip by the included software app. A nice touch.
Sadly the software is currently Windows only, and while Sony says a Mac version is in the works, OS X users won’t be able to 360-ify their clips properly until it appears.
As well as transferring clips to your computer for playback, you can also hook the Bloggie up to a hi-def TV via its mini-HDMI output, although you’ll need to supply your own cable.
Overall the Sony Bloggie Touch feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. It’s beautiful on the outside, small, well made and lightweight, and captures good-quality video and stills, but lacks anything truly stellar to elevate it beyond the competition – especially given its price tag.