Spy Cam Review

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Why Use a Self-Contained Spy Cam?

A self-contained spy cam is a small camera outfitted with a lens and microphone that can capture video. The term self-contained means the camera is a fully-functional, independent device that does not require any external wires or hookups to record video or, in some instances, take photos.

Also known as pinhole cameras, spy cams can easily be either worn on the body or mounted to an object or flat surface. While the term ‘spy’ implies clandestine surveillance, the application of these tiny camcorders is far broader than just recording for covert purposes; they make an ideal recording device for business use and personal entertainment and enjoyment. For instance, a small, discreet camera can be used to record a business seminar for later reference or to capture a first-hand perspective of an extreme sport. Spy cams enable video recording sans the bulky camcorder and are apt for recording – secret or otherwise – virtually any situation where hands-free recording is paramount or weight or space restrictions may exist.

Spy Cams: What to Look For

While spy cams are rather simple devices with limited features, there are certain aspects that comprise a quality, durable camera. We identified the following criteria as key factors to consider when searching for a top-notch pinhole camera. For additional information on these tiny devices, browse through our articles on spy cams

Design
The best spy cams are those that boast an inconspicuous and portable design. With this in mind, we assessed the overall design – appearance, size and basic functionality – of each camera. We evaluated specific dimensions (depth, height and width), whether or not the camera had durable alloy housing, and what type of clips and mounting brackets were included to enable hands-free recording. We also looked for particular design features that enhanced convenience, such as VOX (or sound-activated) mode, webcam functionality and an audio capture feature.

Video/Image Output
Given their miniature size, they do not have the capability to deliver high-definition video; nor are they meant to. However, the cameras should be able to yield fairly clear video where movement and actions are distinguishable and the audio is mostly intelligible. Factors we assessed include video resolution, minimum lux rating, file format and frame rate – all determinants for how well it produces video. Some cams can also take still digital photos, so we included image resolution in our side-by-side comparison.

Memory
Memory capacity on any camera is vital; the more memory it offers, the more data the camera can store internally. All spy cams are equipped with a memory card, though they differ when it comes to the type and maximum capacity of the card. Furthermore, while some spy cams have built-in memory, others have card slots that can support compatible memory cards with additional storage. Generally speaking, first-rate spy cams are those that offer high memory capacity and have adequate store consumption (e.g. 30 minutes of footage per gigabyte).

Battery
Battery specifications are just as important as memory capacity. Since they are lightweight and powerful, Lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly-used battery type in self-contained cameras. In addition to battery type, we analyzed the approximate battery life (or how long a single charge lasts) of each spy pen pinhole camera. Simply put, a longer battery life translates to more continuous recording. 

The best pinhole cameras encompass those that rank generally well in each of these categories. Among the standout spy cams in our lineup are the MD90 Mini DV, the Muvi Atom and the SW361 ThumbCam. For additional information on these tiny devices, browse through our articles on spy cams.

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Electronics » Other Electronics » Spy Cam Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Muvi Atom SW361 ThumbCam Muvi Micro DV Camcorder DV2-B Easy Shot Clip Pocket Pro II Camcorder uCorder IRDC250 GD2705 Mini Recorder Mini Spy Button Camera
Muvi Atom SW361 ThumbCam Muvi Micro DV Camcorder DV2-B Easy Shot Clip Pocket Pro II Camcorder uCorder IRDC250 GD2705 Mini Recorder Mini Spy Button Camera
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Lowest Price
Visit Muvi Atom
$54.67
Visit SW361 ThumbCam
$89.21
Visit Muvi Micro DV Camcorder
$54.99
Visit DV2-B Easy Shot Clip
$99.99
Visit Pocket Pro II Camcorder
$129.99
Visit uCorder IRDC250
$99.99
Visit GD2705 Mini Recorder
$102.45
Visit Mini Spy Button Camera
$30.75
Ratings
8.23
7.73
7.60
7.40
6.95
6.60
6.00
5.07
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
8.75
8.13
9.38
6.25
8.13
7.50
8.75
6.25
7.50
6.88
8.75
7.50
7.50
8.13
5.00
8.75
3.75
7.50
10.00
8.75
5.00
6.88
8.13
7.50
3.75
6.25
8.13
7.50
2.50
6.25
5.00
8.13
 
Design
Height (inches) 1.75 2.2 2.2 2.2 4.6 3.5 3.8 2.75
Depth (inches) 0.75 0.8 1 0.71 0.25 0.6 0.5 0.4
Width (inches) 0.75 0.8 1 0.83 0.63 1.1 1 0.6
Weight (ounces) 1.4 0.8 0.8 0.65 1.23 2 1 0.63
Viewing Angle 72 degrees 72 degrees 72 degrees 64 degrees 64 degrees 60 degrees 58 degrees 58 degrees
Image Sensor Type CMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS
Alloy Housing
     
Automatic Shut-off        
Recording LED Indicator
  
VOX Mode
     
RTC Function         
Belt/Pocket Clip
 
 
Mounting Bracket(s)
    
Webcam Functionality   
  
  
USB Data Transferring
USB Charging
 
Audio Capture   
 
 
Built-in USB     
 
 
Video/Image Output
Image Resolution 2MP        1.3MP
Photo File Format JPEG        JPEG
VGA 640x480 720x480 640x480 640x480 640x480 640x480 640x480 640x480
Video File Format AVI AVI AVI AVI AVI AVI 3GP AVI
Frame Rate 30FPS 30FPS 25FPS 30FPS 30FPS 25FPS 25FPS 30FPS
Minimum Lux Rating 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Time-Stamped Video  
  
   
Memory
Memory Type MicroSD Card MicroSD Card MicroSD Card MicroSD Card MicroSDHC Card MicroSD Card MicroSD Card MicroSD Card
Included Memory Capacity 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB 4GB 2GB 2GB 4GB
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB   16GB 8GB 8GB  
Store Consumption 45 min per GB 20 min per GB 45 min per GB 20 min per GB 30 min per GB 30 min per GB 30 min per GB 30 min per GB
Battery
Lithium-ion
Battery Life 1 hour 1 hour 3 hours 2 hours 3.5 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours