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Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Camcorder Review

A touch-screen pocket camcorder

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Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 Camcorder Review

Sony Bloggie Touch. Image courtesy Sony.

There's a new breed of pocket camcorder on the market: those sporting touch-screen interfaces. Sony's Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20 is one of the earlier products to jump on the bandwagon. It offers 1920 x 1080p video recording, a 3-inch touch-screen and a 4x digital zoom. The Bloggie Touch is available in an 8GB version (up to four hours storage) for $199 and a 4GB (two hour) version for $179. You can see full specifications here.

Bloggie Touch at a Glance

The Good: Full screen recording, in-camera tagging

The Bad:

No memory card slot, awkward zoom

Bloggie Touch Design

Typically the first aspect of a camcorder we cover is its video quality, but we're switching that up with the Bloggie Touch because, well, the Bloggie Touch switches things up. All pocket video cameras to date have been designed to be held vertically. The Bloggie Touch is held like a traditional camera - horizontally.

The result is that you get to enjoy the entire 3-inch LCD display while filming your videos - something no other pocket model can offer. That confers a pretty big advantage to the Bloggie Touch since not only do you see more in your display, it's also easier to keep the Bloggie Touch steady by holding it with two hands. That said, a horizontal hold is unconventional. It took this pocket veteran some getting used to.

Aside from its path-breaking design, the Bloggie Touch is quite sharp and sophisticated looking camcorder (look, when you've seen hundreds of them you start to think of them in these terms). It has just three external buttons: a photo shutter, power button and a big red video record button. At the bottom of the unit, a USB plug pops out quite responsively when you push it and a somewhat flimsier hatch overs the HDMI port. At 4.4 oz and measuring in at 2 x 4.2 x .59-inches, the Bloggie Touch is remarkably thin.

As for colors, it's available in silver or black.

Bloggie Touch Video Quality

Sony Bloggie Touch. Image courtesy Sony.

The Bloggie Touch packs a very high resolution 13-megapixel CMOS sensor into its svelte body to deliver 1920 x 1080 video recording in the H.264 format. The results are quite impressive. With the exception of some focusing issues (discussed below) the indoor, low light performance from the Bloggie Touch is quite good. Outdoors or in well light environment, it produces some of the best video we've seen to date from a pocket camcorder.

You'll also find options for shooting at 720p at 30 frames per second(fps) or 60fps, the later is ideal for filming faster moving subjects.

On the still photo side, the Bloggie Touch offers 12-megapixel photo recording. All those pictures don't amount to an amazing camera though - the Bloggie Touch suffers from a common malady among pocket camcorders - blurry stills. Without plenty of light and a steady hand, you won't be very happy with the results.

Bloggie Touch Lens

The Bloggie Touch has a 4x digital zoom. As with most pocket camcorders, the zoom doesn't add anything to the product and in fact produces very grainy footage once you employ it. Best to avoid it altogether.

The autofocus lens on the Bloggie Touch is a bit slow to focus indoors if the light is low and occasionally you'll notice it refocusing once or twice (blurring your video as a result) if it can't get an initial lock. This is a liability that's pretty common to pocket camcorders but it seemed more apparent on the Touch than on other models.

Bloggie Touch Features

The big selling point of the Touch, as the name would suggest, is its 3-inch touch screen display. The display itself is quite responsive, although there's not many features on the Touch that you'll need to go digging for. You'll find face detection and in-camera tagging (dubbed "share it later") on the playback menu, which lets you designate which videos you'd want to automatically upload to sites like Facebook, when the Touch is connected to your computer. It's a pretty simple way to organize your videos before importing them onto a computer.

The Bloggie Touch's built-in software is well executed. Its elegant interface is simple to use for the basics tasks of uploading and organizing your video and still image files.

Bloggie Touch Memory

The Bloggie Touch is sold in an 8GB version capable of storing up to four hours of HD video for $199 and a 4GB version for $179. Given that the Touch does not have a memory card slot (a bummer) we'd suggest dropping the extra $20 for double the movie recording space.

Bottom Line: Get Your Hands on It

The Bloggie Touch is by far Sony's best effort in the pocket camcorder market to date. The autofocus lens may frustrate a bit indoors, and holding the camcorder horizontally may take some Flip fans some getting used to. But the video quality is excellent and the use of the full 3-inch touchscreen really makes it easy to capture your movies.

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