Sony MHS-PM5K Bloggie £179.99
17th Mar 2010 | 12:35
Pocket-friendly camcorder with Full HD resolution and rotating lens
Sony MHS-PM5K Bloggie: Overview
Sony's MHS-PM5K is a pocket-size camcorder offering full 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and the ability to shoot 5MP stills and take 360° videos.
Sony doesn't want you to call it by its product name though; it wants the PM5K to be known as the bloggie…
Why the bloggie? Well, for a start the compact dimensions allow it to be carried around easily, so it's on hand to record movies and stills of priceless moments, providing a visual index for you, your family and your mates.
Also, the lens can be rotated 270 degrees, and this makes it possible to swivel it around and deliver your own piece (or video blog) to camera; great for state-of-the-nation addresses and grumpy rants.
The MHS-PM5K bloggie also offers the opportunity for quick and easy online sharing of movies and stills.
It has a built-in USB arm and can be connected to either a PC or Mac. There's software embedded on the camcorder so no installation is necessary.
The software opens when it detects the bloggie has been connected and it's possible to log on to YouTube, Dailymotion or Picasa accounts and upload videos and images almost instantaneously. Integration with Facebook is being promised, as an update, in April.
The software is also used to 'uncurl' the 360 degree videos the bloggie is capable of taking with a supplied clip-on lens. This records panoramic movies, which though they look weird on normal playback, make a widescreen impact when unfurled using the software.
Sony has used the bloggie to take a bold step, too. On the PM5K's predecessor, the PM1, recordings could only be made to Memory Stick, but now Sony has enabled the bloggie to capture on SD and SDHC cards as well.
This particular bloggie is not alone as Sony has created a trio of models in the range, so besides the PM5K, there's also the PM5 (no 360 degree recording) and the pistol-grip design of the CM5, which features an HDMI output so you can connect it to a high-def TV.
Sony MHS-PM5K Bloggie: Performance
The bloggie enters an already competitive arena, with sub-£200 pocket-friendly models currently en vogue and available from a multitude of established and less-well-known brands.
The stakes are high, then, and it's a good thing Sony has tweaked the specs from the PM1 in order to deliver the PM5K. The resolution has been improved to deliver Full HD video of 1,920 x 1,080 as well as 1,280 x 720 at 60fps, and the screen has been increased from a feeble 1.8-inch to a more visible 2.4-inch.
It's an easy to use cam, which is mainly due to the bloggie having only a few, fuss-free controls. There's nothing to get tangled up in and the on-screen menu layout is dull – but in a good way.
On the downside, the record button is unresponsive. It's not tactile or fast enough, especially when the USP of the camcorder is being able to blog your life.
Connectivity is also something of an issue. There can be no complaints in having component and AV outputs, and the USB arm is a cracking addition, but after bumping up the resolution to Full HD it seems crazy not to include an HDMI output.
Yes, the device is online-orientated, but why give users the chance to record in 1,920 x 1,080 but not be able to connect via HDMI to a HD TV and see it?
Video performance is a mixed bag. There's no doubting the extra image detail that Full HD delivers and the bloggie's colours look spot on, but when movement enters the equation this bloggie just gets blocky.
Whether it's objects moving within the frame or a quick pan or tilt, images can become pixellated and display picture noise. Low-light performance is equally murky and jerky.
One slightly annoying quirk of the bloggie's operation means that although it features a comparably good 4x digital zoom, this can't actually be used when shooting in 1,920 x 1,080 mode.
Digital stills can be recorded at a variety of settings, not just the maximum 5MP resolution, and are accurate colour-wise and have an appreciable level of detail and clarity. The bloggie also has Face Detection tech and generally this picks up on the majority of grins and gurning.
Sony MHS-PM5K Bloggie: Verdict
Camcorders this size and specification really offer a fantastic and affordable solution for recording video and pictures.
They help to address the problems of carrying something that doesn't feel like a bulky burden and the fear of losing an expensive piece of equipment.
The rotating lens, though a simple enough idea, does give the bloggie an edge when it comes to versatility, and when combined with the 360° lens it's possible to grab some truly different and exciting images.
Being able to share clips and images online so quickly is a real benefit and the bloggie excels in this department. It's such an uncomplicated process that it means there's no need to think twice at the prospect of broadcasting something online – provided it's not the content of the movie that you're embarrassed about.
And Sony should get a pat on the back for taking the plunge and making the PM5K SD/SDHC-card compatible, as it simply removes one of the reasons for not getting the bloggie in the first place.
There's no dodging the problems of jerky movement on some video footage, and it's frustrating to lose features – such as zoom – when choosing to shoot in 1,920 x 1,080.
The ability to record quickly and effectively is a must on a product like this and a more responsive record button has to be at the front of the queue next time around. While an HDMI socket may increase the price, it'd be a powerful addition to be able to view those Full HD images on a tiptop HD set.
Great fun to use and supremely efficient when it comes to sharing movie and stills, the PM5K bloggie needs to up its game when it comes video capabilities because in many other areas it's a diverting and entertaining shooter.