Sony Bloggie Live MHS-TS55 Review
The Bloggie Live lets users capture and upload video to the web—without ever connecting to a computer.
The Bloggie Live comes loaded with WiFi capability, which means you can use it to shoot and upload video to the web without ever connecting to a computer. It’s a cool feature, that’s for sure, but it’s something that has been around for a couple of years on numerous cell phones and other WiFi-connected products like Apple's iPod Touch.
That doesn’t mean the Bloggie Live MHS-TS55 isn’t an exciting camcorder. The WiFi function not only allows you to upload clips to the web wirelessly, but it also lets you stream live video content via Sony’s partnership with Qik.com and view video clips on your smartphone with Sony’s PlayMemories app. WiFi has been around too long to be a huge game-changer here, but it’s still a feature that's exciting to see on the Bloggie Live—and hopefully more camcorders in the future.
Design & Usability
The Bloggie Live looks slick and has a great LCD, but its WiFi features can take a while to master.
While many ultracompact models tend to look of toys with their bright colors and simple designs, the Sony Bloggie Live offers a more sophisticated sense of style. The sleek chrome finish and black paint job is reminiscent of an iPhone, and the look of the Bloggie Live is even more stylish than last year's 3D Bloggie MHS-FS3 from Sony. The camcorder feels solid, has a bit of weight to it, and feels more balanced than most ultracompact devices.
But that’s enough about style and aesthetics. The Sony MHS-TS55 handles reasonably well, and its touchscreen interface is very similar to what we saw on Sony’s previous Bloggie Touch camcorders. The screen isn’t quite as large as the LCD you get on the iPhone, but it’s a decent 3-inches diagonally, and, unlike most ultracompact models, the TS55 can be held vertically or horizontally for recording video. Prior to recording, the Bloggie will automatically rotate the screen and change the recording frame depending on how you hold the camcorder. So, if you want a widescreen image, like one that will fill your HDTV, you should hold the TS55 horizontally. Holding the cam vertically will produce tall, skinny videos with lots of black space cropping the left and right.
Plan to rely entirely on automatic features, as the Bloggie Live has no serious manual controls.
Using the Bloggie Live's WiFi features takes a bit of skill and technological know-how that goes beyond the basic use of a point-and-shoot camcorder. You have to set up WiFi connections to hotspots, which is as easy as finding your wireless hotspot by name and entering the password info. If you’ve ever connected your phone, iPod, video game device, or television to a WiFi hotspot then you’ve been through this process before and it should be easy for you to figure out. If you haven’t done this, then this feature of the Bloggie Live may prove difficult. Once you get the WiFi going, the camcorder has a number of interesting features. You can record upload video instantly to the web, live stream content via Sony's partnership with Qik.com, or you can save video to Sony's Playmemories Online web service. There's also an option to view recorded videos on a smartphone. Even with these features, the Bloggie Live is still very limited when compared to a cell phone with video capability. Remember, the Bloggie must connect to a WiFi network in order to transmit clips wirelelessly. Cell phones, on the other hand, offer the option of transferring footage over cellular networks if WiFi is unavailable.
Like most ultracompact models, the Bloggie Live has no manual controls, so you must rely on inconsistent auto controls to capture your video. The camcorder worked well under consistent, bright outdoor light, but mixed lighting posed some serious problems for the automatic exposure. Light flare around bright areas (like lights or windows) was prevalent, the autofocus system was usually slow, and the white balance was never perfect under artificial light.
Video from a pocket-camcorder like this will never blow you away, but the Bloggie Live did better in our tests than most of the competition.
It's impossible to fall in love with the video quality of the Bloggie Live MHS-TS55, but the camcorder does do a few things well. The model was able to produce bright video without much light, which is something of a shocker from such a tiny camcorder, so it should be able to capture decent video on a late-night trip to a club or concert. Colors were never incredibly accurate in our tests, but the camcorder managed to capture tones that were quite vibrant. This means colors will pop, even if they may not look perfectly accurate to your eyes. Motion was the area where the Bloggie Live struggled most, and there was plenty of wobble and blur in our testing. Part of this comes from the fact that the Bloggie can be difficult to keep steady, but it's also an issue related to the camcorder's image sensor and processing.
If you already own a smartphone equipped with decent video capabilities, then the Bloggie Live is not a compelling purchase.
It's exciting to finally see an ultracompact camcorder that comes equipped with WiFi capability, and the fact that the Bloggie Live MHS-TS55 did a relatively good job in our video tests is further proof that this is a solid camcorder from Sony. The camcorder is not the best ultracompact model we’ve reviewed overall, but its sleek design and intuitive touchscreen interface make it a top choice for novice videographers who don’t want a camcorder that looks and feels like a toy.
While the Bloggie Live's WiFi features are exciting, it's hard not to retort that Sony (and all camcorder manufacturers, really) are a bit late to the party when it comes to wireless features. For a couple of years now, the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch have been able to do some of the exact things the Bloggie Live is capable of—specifically uploading video content to the web without ever connecting to a computer (via WiFi). The Bloggie Live’s benefits include a lower price tag and a simpler feature set. It’s a dedicated camcorder, so you don’t have to worry about all the other features, apps, and costs associated with owning a smartphone. Then again, if you already have a smartphone that can record and transfer video wirelessly, then there’s really no good reason to buy a Bloggie Live. So, the market for the MHS-TS55 is limited to people who want a pocket camcorder with WiFi who don’t already own an iPhone, iPod Touch, or any other smartphone that comes with a decent video function.
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