Mini DVRs and Spy Cameras
Mini DVR, Mini Camcorders, Wearable Cameras and Spy Cameras Reviews
Disclaimer: I am not liable if you decide to misuse these great little devices. There's no question that there is a great potential for a lot of evil and potentially illegal activities that someone can engage in with these products. Check with your local laws before doing any posting/sharing.
Let me be absolutely clear: I have little to no idea what I am doing, really. This is only to share my experience in the field of mini digital video recorders. After a somewhat negative experience at work that started with a baseless allegation that ended well enough but was host to many headaches, I thought to myself, what is the best way to protect myself in the future? I then became extremely fascinated with these mini digital video recorders, most of which are under $100, and have afforded me hours of entertainment as well as a means of capturing some extremely valuable moments. To say the least, it's been a fun trip. The goal of this lens is to prevent those getting into this field/hobby from feeling overwhelmed.
The items that will be extensively covered (quite amateurishly, I might add) are the Veho Muvi Pro, the Muvi Atom, a generic HDMI ready DVR available from Amazon, the ThinkGeek HoverSpy and the HD 808-11 key chain camera. I'll also let you know my thoughts on the Brookstone 640x480 pen camera and the Looxcie bluetooth headset.Of course, as I add components to my growing army, they will be added and subsequently reviewed here. That is, if my wife doesn't kill me first.
Key Ring Camera HD808-11
The Winner and Current Champion
This find would not have been possible if not for the guerrilla techie known as Techmoan. I follow his site quite often for a dose of humor and extensive technical analysis of products. Techmoan first mentioned this great camera on his site and posted a fantastic review about it. I had to see it myself. I immediately ordered two and could not wait till my shipment arrived. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The HD 808-11 camera is sold on Ebay. For about $40, you get 720p video, decent audio in a compact form that fits on a key ring. There are only certain retailers that sell this little gem on Ebay, so if you are planning to buy this, use only the listed merchants.
For the price, I bought two, one to deconstruct and abuse, the other on my keychain. I've been quite happy with the purchase. The video is in 720p and the audio is among the best for this type of camcorder. The only problems I have with the unit are the fact that there are four buttons on the key remote but only two are used for operation. Hold down the power button to activate the camera, tap the other shutter button to record. When you are done recording, hit the video to save the clip. If you don't, you might lose your video. To switch to camera mode (which I feel is a useless feature due to the fantastic video), you tap the power button and take pictures with the shutter button. The recording lasts 40 minutes and is saved onto a micro SD card of your choice. I use an 8GB class 10 card bought from Amazon.com. Here's Techmoan's review, video shot and the ebay listing as well as the SD card.
So impressed I am with the HD808-11, I attempted (quite hysterically) to make an ear mount using old Bluetooth ear mounts, Sugru and super glue. Affirmed by my wife's howling laughter, I must say I failed spectacularly. If anyone is a bio engineer and you have any idea/tips for making an ear mount that would support this tiny, lightweight camera, please let me know.
Mounting Highly Customizable
Cons:No Over the Ear Option
Limited Button Operation
Battery Life (40 minutes)
Vaunted Key Ring Camera 808 #11 - The best bang for the buck
A fantastic item and a steal for $40!
Techmoan's review - I couldn't do better so when in Rome...
A great, detailed analysis that I couldn't replicate if I tried. Enjoy.
My first foray in Mini Camera: Veho Muvi Pro
Muvi Veho Pro Micro
You never forget your first. I was browsing Amazon.com and came across this little gem. My curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it, thus starting a two year addiction to mini recording devices. As my first spycam type device, I was extremely satisfied with the purchase. I could get about 2 to 3 hours of recording time from this nifty little device and the video was sharp and clear. The audio was subpar, often reminding me of Charlie Brown's teacher (waa-waa waa-waa-Charlie Brown). But the small size and video quality were more than enough to win me over.
The Muvi Veho records in 640x480 avi format at 30 frames per second and captures fairly detailed images without much frame rate or stuttering. Night video was good as well. It is encased in a sturdy metal housing and has a bit of weight to it. The Muvi Pro also has a sound trigger and a webcam feature. It came with only one mounting clip and a neck chain. The design of clip makes the entire unit sit on the outside of the jaw of the clip, so the entire unit is always exposed. This makes the entire unit susceptible to falling off. It's really not great for covert recording but makes a fine helmet cam for active lifestyles. I would not recommend attaching this device to clothing.
For around $60, I had a blast with this device. The long recording times and decent video quality that the Muvi Veho Pro were great, only to be offset by the poor audio and rigid mounting options. After dropping it once, turning on the voice activation switch would start recording when activated, no sound needed. An email to the company revealed that this is a known issue after dropping the device so please don't drop the device. Touche! I must say that continued drops resulted in no loss of performance and it is quite sturdy other than the aforementioned malfunction.
Fairly small size
2-3 Hour recording
Mounting Options leave body on outside
Not very concealable
Limited mounted options with basic package
Not a bad buy for $60 and I've never had it not work. The battery life was the best of the devices I've tested so far.
Muvi Veho Pro Micro - A decent tough video taker
My first mini DVR/camcorder... works well but audio is poor and the exterior mounting clip makes it hard to conceal and
Veho Muvi Atom
Refined Muvi with Shorter Battery Life
One of my favorites. It's the same video camcorder as the Muvi Pro but smaller. The second Veho Atom is half the height, comes with a plethora of mounting options, rotates on any mount, takes the same great video and has a toughmetal body. However, the sound is still an issue, and dropping the unit once resulted in the same sound activation malfunction (where the VOX switch starts recording even with no sound). If this unit had better sound and 720p, it'd definitely be a top choice.
The smaller Atom is much more concealable, more secured, easier to adjust for video recording thanks to the rotating mounts, comes with more mounting options and the only difference is the recording time has been reduced to an hour. The mounts still leave the body on the exterior of the clip but because of the smaller size and lesser weight, the unit does not feel like it will fall off or disengage during jarring motions.
Pros: Mounting Options
Same Video Quality as Pro
Cons: Same Muffled Audio
40 mins to hour of Recording
640 x 480 resolution
I prefer the Muvi Atom to the Muvi Pro, even with the reduced recording time. It's worth it. I simple glued a bluetooth earloop to the mounting clip and people assume it's a bluetooth headset.
Night Shot at High Speed with Muvi Atom/Pro - They are the same camera but here's a brief clip
Someone was going very fast at night and in the rain. Not very bright, but the video posted is very accurate of how the camera works in these conditions.
Veho Muvi Pro/Atom captures Gigglepuss
Indoor lighting, sound quality apparent.
Comes up short for the money
My wife bought me the Looxcie for my birthday. I was really excited about this $200 item, it's an over the ear bluetooth headset that takes video. I could finally film what I was looking at, which would be a huge bonus. In theory, the Looxcie was able to transmit the image to my iPhone acting as a real time viewfinder. And the bluetooth headset aspect of it worked well. People heard me and I could hear them clearly.
My joy was short-lived. The Looxcie is hard to mount securely, so any sudden head motions cause the unit to dislodge. The video aspect was subpar, with grainy and a filmy appearance. The audio was better than either Muvis, though. My iPhone, rocking the latest firmware, would not sync with the Looxcie. So, much to the disappointment of my wife and I, the Looxcie went back to the store.
The negatives far outweighed the positives. Being able to to video what I was looking at was a huge bonus. But the bad video it took (they even feature it on their website of someone waterskiing), the white emblazoned barrel with the Looxsie logo was far from discrete, the high price, the unsure fit and an inability to add additional memory are all negatives. There's a new Looxcie but I can't justify spending $200 on a bluetooth that takes bad video and ok audio.
Updated version supposedly addresses the loose ear fit issue I was having. I still don't think that the money warrants a 640 x 480 image though. However, for those looking for a point of view camera, this is your best bet- unless you're not afraid of a little modding on another camera.
Pros: Point of View
Use Android or iOs phones as a Viewfinder
Solid Bluetooth Headset
Cons: No Expandable Memory
Not a Secure Fit
See for yourself the quality of the Looxcie. Shot by laptopmag.
Looxcie Bluetooth Headset - Wearable, over the ear camera
Working bluetooth headset with a camera that can provide a real time viewfinder to your smart phone.
Brookstone Spy Pen
I liked this for a bit..
After getting burned on similar items from DealExtreme (they lasted exactly one day after their warranty expired and then refused to work ever again), I had enough of the cheap knockoffs and went to a store with a return policy. For $80 you get a working pen in an oversized barrel (it's about twice the size of a normal pen's thickness), making this a decent option for office workers. With the press of a single button, you can start recording video complete with audio. This is much better than other pens that allow you to take pictures or record video simply because you had to remember how long to button press, watch the led lights to see which function was active and then put the pen in your pocket. To me, it was much more streamlined to tap the top of your pen and start recording.
To charge the pen, you unscrew half the barrel and it reveals a usb port that plugs into a computer. The charge lasts about 2 hours. Interestingly enough, the unit has a built in 4GB memory which can only record about 1.5 hours. So the memory lasts less than the charge and it just stops recording when the memory's full. Hit record again and it'll record over the existing file.
Pros: Point of View from a Shirtpocket
One Click Simple Operation
Cons: Video Quality Grainy and Filmish
Fixed 4GB Memory
More Battery than Memory
Brookstone Pen Video - The Brookstone Spy Pen
Brookstone's official commercial. Be advised the opening scenes were not taken with the pen, you'll see when the video quality changes. That's the pen video quality. Not horrible.
Mini Hidden DVR HD Camera 5MP high resolution 1280 * 720 30Fps, HDMI output 720P + 4GB Micro SD
Great camera but hard to mount subtley
This is a great option for those who are looking for a 720p option in an office environment. For $80 the unit comes with 1280 x 720 video recording, a 5MP camera mode and voice only. The bottom half slides out to reveal a USB port and a HDMI port that plugs directly into any television with an HDMI input and plays without the need for transferring files to a computer first. That is a fantastic option for anyone who needs to see their recording with no fuss or muss.
My only complaints are the low light video seems to have some kind of ghosting effect, a lack of mounting option and the end cap that covers the input is a little too loose. I would have preferred a sliding panel option or a latch system, as the only way to attach the unit is to slide it into a shirt pocket where it sits like a black highlighter. A close runner up, but for the price I can buy two HD808-11's and transfer files to my pc for HDMI output.
Currently, Amazon has stopped offering this item.
PROS: Good Day Video Capturing
HDMI Output Ready
Cons: No Adjustable Lens
Mounting Options Limited
Lowlight Video is Filmy
Generic HDMI Hidden DVR Spycam - from Amazon.
Unfortunately, the ad's been cached, so I don't know if they're making more of these.
My HDMI DVR Video - not as exciting
but you can see that the dark portions have a weird film over them. It's strange because the normal light video is fine. What's even stranger is that the normally strong HD808#11 couldn't even compare to this video. That video was washed out in the low light.
I got this for Father's Day and I must admit that it's been a lot of fun. Of course, it's a great way to critique your flying skills, look at your own balding head, see how much you should really be cleaning your gutters instead of flying this $50 toy and being a hazard to your neighbors. Not really a spy device (no audio thanks to the blades), more of a recon vehicle (UAV) for the backyard enthusiast.
It's a lightweight remote control helicopter that takes video on a Micro SD card. It's an absolute blast to fly even though I have little experience when it comes to remote controlled vehicle (I dabbled briefly with them as a teenager). The durability of the RC Hoverspy is entirely dependent on your flying skills and the slightest wind will cause you to lose control. My wife and I have had numerous cringe-inducing crashes (she once lost control from 30 feet up and the copter plummeted straight down onto a brick planter- the only damage was the fake cockpit cover cracked) but this thing keeps on ticking. The video's fairly decent as well. I suppose when that catastrophic crash finally disables the helicopter, I'll still be able to use the remote camera trigger.
PROS: Decent Video (640x480)
Can Reach Places You Can't
Adjustable Camera Lens
CONS: Short Flight Time (5 minutes with Video)
No Wind Conditions to Fly Outside
No Audio (LOL)
ThinkGeek Hoverspy! - Aerial Mayhem
especially if you're as bad a pilot as I am. LOL