With the recent trends seen in the the personal digicam industry over the last several years, it’s hard to believe that just a short while ago HD video seemed out of reach for all but a handful of people outside of the film industry, requiring expensive software and hardware to perform edits, to distribute, and even to watch. As we roll into 2011, even almost every entry-level digicam offers the capability to shoot video in HD. What’s more, a handful of products exist solely as cheap video cameras, capable of capturing video and getting it online within a matter of minutes; the most prominent of these is the Flip camera, which has become almost synonymous with quickly-made, citizen-produced video.
Sony’s entry into this field is the Bloggie. It’s a compact camera measuring 1 and 9/16″ by 4″ by 2 3/4″ and weighing 6.9 ounces, making it easy to transport in a pocket or in a bag (Flip cameras measure between 1.97″ by 3.94″ by .63″ and 2.19″ by 4.25″ by 1.17″ and weigh between 4.1 and 5.7 ounces, depending on featuresets, making them on average very slightly smaller and lighter).
The Bloggie differs from the Flip in a handful of ways. For one, it captures images at a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080, larger than the 1280 by 720 offered by the Flip. It also stores video and still images onto Sony’s memory stick format, rather than built-in solid state media. While this adds costs beyond the initial purchase, it also makes it very easy to continue shooting in the event that the camera gets full, which cannot be done as conveniently on the Flip. However, several Flip models offer the choice to be powered either via a rechargeable battery pack or via AA or AAA batteries; the Bloggie can only be powered by a proprietary rechargeable battery pack, making travel away from a computer somewhat difficult and impractical with both, though for different reasons.
Additionally, Flip’s cameras all offer wide-range stereo microphones or omnidirectional microphones, while the Bloggie only captures audio in mono. Sony’s lens offers a more substantive zoom, as large as 20x, and a focal length equivalent to a 35mm camera’s range of 41 and 205mm. Both models offer limited control, like most entry-level digicams. Features such as white balance and image stabilization, as well as low light detection, are automatic in both models, and the Bloggie doesn’t offer any manual focusing. The Bloggie has a larger LCD screen than most Flip cameras (most Flips are 2″, the Bloggie is 2.5″), but many features are very similar; both offer easy uploading to video sharing services, integrated USB 2.0 ports for fast data transfers, and charging via USB to eliminate the frustrations associated with cables.
For the most part, the biggest factor in determining which is right for a prospective buyer is the amount of video one wants to store. If it’s more than a few hours, external storage may be a huge advantage, and this should seal the deal in the Bloggie’s favor. If that isn’t your primary point of concern, the cameras are very similar.
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