Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS10 Camcorder Review
Lens & Imaging System
The lens on the Bloggie Touch is tiny, but it is easy to find on the front of the camcorder. We don't want to say the lens is fixed and has no moving parts because we aren't sure—there's definitely an autofocus system on the camcorder, so something is adjusting the lens even if it is ever-so-slightly. Still, Sony doesn't list a focal or aperture range for the camcorder, but instead says the minimum focus distance for the Bloggie Touch is four inches (10cm). Four inches is actually very good for a minimum focus distance on an ultracompact model, as we've seen many camcorders struggle with focusing on close subjects. For comparison, the Kodak Playsport has a minimum focus distance of around five feet (150m).
The Sony Bloggie Touch has the best LCD we've seen on an ultracompact camcorder so far. At three inches in size, the screen is as big as what you get on the Flip SlideHD, but it has a far better resolution and its touchscreen design is much more precise. What really bugged us about the LCD on the SlideHD was the fact that only a fraction of the large screen was usable during video recording (2/3 of the screen was taken up by touchscreen buttons). The Bloggie Touch, however, makes use of the entire screen in both playback and record mode—and it lets your video fill the screen whether you shoot vertically or horizontally with the camcorder.
Some people may be confused by the rotation detection on the LCD with the Bloggie Touch, and we must admit, it can be a bit strange. When you shoot video holding the camcorder horizontally, the screen displays a frame as such with a 16:9 display (normal for a camcorder). When you hold the device vertically, however, the image also fills the screen, which means your recorded video comes out having huge black bars on the left and right when you view it on a computer or television. Yes, it is awkward, yes it will confuse beginners, but we think this concept should make sense to people after a few uses... and they'll begin to hold the Bloggie Touch in the manner they feel is most suitable to their shooting needs.
There's not much to talk about as far as connectivity features go on the Bloggie Touch MHS-TS10. The camcorder has just two terminals: a built-in USB arm and an HDMI port. Let's start with the USB arm, which is located on the bottom of the Bloggie Touch and is clearly designed with the Flip camcorders in mind. The difference with the Bloggie Touch, however, is that the USB arm does not release via a switch or lock. Instead, you push on the edge of the arm and the USB port flips out. You tuck the arm back into the camcorder in the same manner. We like this setup because we think it is harder to break than the button-release system you see on Flip camcorders (still, it is more fragile than a regular USB terminal would be).
Since the USB arm doesn't extend out from the Bloggie Touch very far, Sony kindly ships a small USB extender with the camcorder. The extender is only five or six inches long, but it should get the job done for most camcorder-to-computer connections. Remember, though, the Bloggie Touch doesn't have a DC-input, so you must charge it via USB. And that's an area where the little extender cable comes in handy.
Take a gander of the thin left side of the Bloggie Touch and you'll find a tiny flip-down door that houses the HDMI input. The port is tiny, and its cover isn't reliably strong, but we like the placement of the input as its position allows it to blend into the streamlined design of the camcorder. Unfortunately, the Bloggie Touch has no other video-output ports other than HDMI, so you're out of luck if want to hook up the camcorder to a standard definition TV.
Instead of including a memory card slot on the Bloggie Touch, Sony decided to simplify its new ultracompact camcorders by including internal flash memory only... just like Flip camcorders have been doing since their incarnation. The Bloggie Touch is available in two sizes, 4GB or 8GB, and the model we reviewed was the 4GB version (the MHS-TS10 is its official name). Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of flash memory.
We like how having no memory card slot simplifies things, but it can be a nuisance for people who, a) have a lot of unused memory cards lying around, or, b) record so much video that the 4GB of internal memory isn't enough. Is 4GB of internal memory enough space for you or will you need to upgrade to the 8GB MHS-TS20 Bloggie Touch model? Check out our handy table to find the approximate record times those 4GB will get you with the Bloggie Touch—then you can make an informed decision. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.