Sony’s bundle includes the usual protective pouch and lanyard, plus two welcome extras: RCA output cables and a short USB extension. The RCA cables make a nice touch for sharing videos (although HDMI would really be ideal) and the USB extension is a near necessity, considering the Bloggie’s rigid USB connector doesn’t pivot the way some other cams’ do.
Video from pocket cams never approaches the output from optically stabilized, much larger camcorders that cost two or three times as much, but they typically provide high-quality footage that’s impressive relative to their size and price. The PM5 delivers acceptable video on par with many of its peers, but suffers from many of the same flaws, too.
The motion blur that plagues this class of camcorder is just as pronounced on the PM5 as on Flips’ MinoHD, Creative’s VadoHD or Kodak’s Zi8, but we noticed another issue, too. Panning the camera quickly seems to warp straight edges, creating almost a whiplash effect known as “rolling shutter.” A vertical object in the frame – like a column – will appear to warp and tilt during a quick turn. All CMOS devices suffer from this effect to some degree, but Sony’s seems to be one of the only ones that demonstrated it in normal use.
Low light performance on the PM5 is particularly abysmal. Stepping into a dim room feels like stepping into the slow motion jutter of a strobe light, as the camera’s sensor drops exposure time dramatically to compensate. Other cams do the same, but manage to maintain fluid video. Even with a still shot, the blocky, poorly exposed image still lags well behind what other cams manage to do with the same lighting.
Even with good indoor lighting, video from the PM5 looks hazier in comparison to the 1080p output from Kodak’s Zi8, and even 720p output from Flip’s SlideHD and Creative’s VadoHD, with fuzzier details and more muted, inaccurate colors. Fluorescent lights, especially, seemed to throw the PM5 for a loop, making scenes look dingy and yellow.
Although Sony provides more digital zoom than some competitors, most users will find quality so blocky and poor when using it that it’s rendered nearly useless – a universal truth across pretty much every pocket camcorder.
Oddly enough, the PM5 has been capped at 29 minutes of recording, which can become a major nuisance if you’re attempting to record a longer event, like a concert, without interruption.
The $150 price tag on the PM5 makes it an attractive option, but the sacrifices you make to get there just don’t justift it. Kodak’s Zi8 mops the floor with the PM5 on image quality, for only $30 more. Small size and a swiveling lens just don’t make up for major drawbacks like awkwardly placed controls, capped recording times, and subpar image quality. Although Flip’s MinoHD shoots better looking video, the PM5 can handle 1080p, offers a much lower price, and accepts SD cards, substituting some versatility and practicality for quality.
- Shoots full 1080p video, 5-megapixel stills
- Swiveling lens provides protection, versatility
- Compact and lightweight
- Large 2.4-inch screen
- Reasonably priced
- Accepts SD and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards
- Subpar video quality
- Pronounced rolling shutter effect, motion blur
- No HDMI output
- Awkwardly placed record button
- 29-minute recording cap