Sony Bloggie Live, RCA HD, Flip Video – Camcorder Comparison, a photo by zennie62 on Flickr.
This blog post started as an accident. Just before interviewing USA Women’s Soccer Stars Heather O’Reilly, Alex Morgan, and Brandy Chastain, blogger’s trusty Flip Video Camera (or really camcorder) was stepped on by someone in the crowded Panasonic / My Space Press Conference, and I think it happened just after Justin Timberlake made his appearance to the stage.
I discovered the problem on the way to the Sony Press Conference, so when the electronics giant introduced the new Sony Bloggie Live, I made plans to immediately buy one. Not just out of necessity, but because it was this kind of camcorder I’d wanted Flip to make all along.
In fact, Cisco’s Flip Video Division was about to launch a version of its simple-to-use product that was “WiFi Enabled” last year in March. I was invited to the press event to introduce the much-needed next step in camcorders, and took a plane from Georgia, where I was visiting Mom, to San Francisco, where the press conference was to be held, and where I spend half my time in Oakland.
The trouble started when I left the plane. I checked my email and learned that the same press meeting was cancelled. I was livid because the trip was a special one just for Cisco. The PR rep apologized again and again, but could not tell me why Cisco put the kabosh on the event. I fumed for days.
My anger reached fever pitch six days later, when Cisco shockingly pulled the plug on any future production of the Flip Video brand. That also effectively killed my personal dream of owning the WiFi – Flip.
Fast Forward to Monday, January 9th and the Sony Press Conference. While there was the rousing presentation of what I call The Sony Universe, and the hilarious comedy team of Sir Howard Stringer, Will Smth, and Barry Sonnenfeld, the only part of the entire deal that stuck in my brain was the introduction of the Sony Bloggie Live.
I had to get my hands on that camcorder.
To do this, I altered my entire Wednesday schedule to make a trip to The Sony Style Store at Ceasar’s Palace Forum Shops. I was the first person there to purchase the newest Sony camcorder, and was immediately ready to junk my suddenly junkie Flip and dive in to the Sony Bloggie Live.
The Sony Staff, including a man named Rocky, were very helpful, as you can see here in my first live stream upload using the device:
What I had to get used to was holding it.
Over the period of time of using Flip Video Cameras (since 2009), I’d developed a technique of holding the camcorder in such a way that the resultant video image was so steady many thought I had a camera person with me when I created my videos. Nope, just me.
But because of the Sony Bloggie Live’s ultra-thin design and control position, I had to alter my method of using a camcorder. After testing something like six different approaches, I finally settled on one that produces the same results – most of the time.
All of this was done on the way back to the Las Vegas Convention Center. While in the taxi cab, I got a call from the Cassie, one of the booth representatives for AudioVoxx, who informed me that I won new camcorder – no, not a Sony Bloggie Live. It was an RCA HD Camcorder.
So now, I have three camcorders: The Sony Bloggie Live, RCA HD, and the Flip Video Camcorder. With such a rich stash of devices, comparing them was irresistible. Here goes, and from these perspectives: ease of use, capabilities versus price, and likes / dislikes.
Ease Of Use
For ease of use, The Flip Video Camera is the gold standard. All you do is turn it on, point and film, or in my case, turn it on, point, talk, and film. I’m a vlogger. The Flip Video is perfectly designed to be held for filming, and when I need to recharge it, or upload my files, I just open the USB stick, insert it in my Mac, and I’m off to the races.
The FlipShare system is opened, and if you don’t have one installed on your computer the cam itself does that for you. You can direct the files to be downloaded either on your hard drive or to an external device. Easy.
At first glance the RCA Small Wonder EZ2120BK, or what I call the RCA HD, would appear to be just as simple to use, in fact, it looks like a Flip. But the big drawback is the lack of a retractable USB stick. It renders the RCA HD a Flip wannabe rather than a Flip replacement. Why in hell RCA / AudioVoxx would make a camcorder without a built-in USB stick is beyond me, but they did it. RCA also has an SD card for photos, which they could have done without and made the storage of photos part of the camera’s internal design.
That brings me to the Sony Bloggie Live. At first, it’s a lot more complicated than the Flip Video Camera and the RCA HD, but the placement of the controls and the use of a digital electronic touch screen display makes the use of the device intuitive.
Sony obviously spent a lot of time getting the controls such that you can do a lot with a few finger strokes. Indeed, the Sony Bloggie Live is the Swiss Army Knife of camcorders. You can upload your video or photo files (keep that in mind) to Facebook, YouTube, Dailymotion, or Flickr, from one touch screen panel, and set the format of the film you’re making from another. After a solid day of using the Sony Bloggie Live, I can say I’m at near-expert status.
Capacity Versus Price
So which camcorder wins the capacity / price battle? I have to give that one to the Flip Camera, but with a caveat: using the price before Cisco’s action. Then the retail price for the Flip Video Ultra was about $149; that’s a full $100 less than the Sony Bloggie Live, and the same price as the RCA Small Wonder EZ2120BK.
The RCA Small Wonder EZ2120BK has 720p HD recording as does the Flip Video Camera, but the Sony Bloggie Live records at 1080p video at 30fps, which drops to 720p at 60 fps.
And the Sony Bloggie Live has that something you already saw the YouTube version of: you can live video blog if you set up a free account with Qik.com (I’m at Qik.com/zennie62.) The result under most conditions of a good, strong signal is an HD live stream that looks something like this:
But that’s with a good WiFi signal; a bad one, as experienced later in the same CES 2012 session, will produce a black screen result. That has happened all too often.
It’s best to make sure you have photos and videos stored. if you own a Mac, as I do, you hook your Sony Bloogie Live up and a desktop icon appears. That is where your photos and videos are stored. There’s a copy of each live streamed video for you to use, again under most circumstances.
But it’s this area where Sony both leads Flip and RCA, and other brands, but in making the cutting-edge camcorder has produced a new set of problems for the user. Personally I think they’re worth dealing with considering the overall set of things the Sony Bloggie Live can do, but I do wish it’s design placed less emphasis on being small and more on being easy to hold.