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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

            

 
« How To Shoot Yourself in the Face (& other tips). | Main | Belkin CarAudio Connect AUX with Bluetooth »
Sunday
Oct142012

720p Spy Pen Review (2012 h.264 Version)

Here is my review of the first 720p h.264 HD Spy Pen. This covert camera records pretty decent footage, and is leaps and bounds ahead of the 1280x960 mjpeg 'HD' Spy Spy Pen that I reviewed a couple of years ago.  The live video-out function might also result in this camera getting some use outside of its intended (and unlikely) spy pen purpose.

I believe that this pen is related to the 808 #18 camera from the fact that it is distributed by the same sellers on ebay. It is therefore likely that the firmware could be updated, and the small time stamp removed, although at the time of writing I cannot confirm this.

If you buy this pen and want to change the time, it uses the familiar technique of copying a text configuration file to the built in memory. You can dowload an example file here. All you need to do is edit the contents to show the correct time and date and then copy your updated file to the pen. The time is updated when the pen is next switched on. 

I mentioned in the video that this was a difficult review to shoot because I kept accidentally pressing the on/record button in transit and filling the memory up with footage of the inside of my bag or pocket. Every time this happened, the day's shoot had to be abandoned so I could return home, attach the camera up to my computer and empty the card out. After this happened twice I ended up taping a protective cap over the pen to stop it happening again. This is the only time that I've had a problem like this with a camera, and it was caused by the fact that the camera only needs one brief tap for it to both switch-on and automatically start recording. The fact that the memory can't be removed or swapped out also contributes to the problem. There is also no way to tell if the camera is on or off by looking at it. I know that this is so that it can't be detected as a camera....but it also makes it very hard to use as well.

If you want to buy one, here are a few links to stores on ebay.

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Reader Comments (38)

Edgar: yes it's possible, I changed the tf card to another one and it worked. but be careful not to break something, everything is small and fragile...

August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnatoliy

Dear Anatoliy.

Thank You for info that it's possible to change SD card

Since You could do that , please inform details HOW technically to do- step by step

and what tools (needles?) You used to remove glue or tape that hold SD card in place

and how to pull out it and put in another SD card in place?

Thank You in advance for fast answer with instructions

Regards Edgar

August 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdgar

It's just a sticking tape above the tf card. Remove it with your finger nail and the tf card can be taken out. Then insert a new card and stick some tape above it. The pen doesn't have a classic tf card slot that holds the card inside, so you need to glue it with some tape to keep it in place otherwise it will fall out.

August 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnatoliy

Dear Anatoliy

Thanks for a fast answer.

You seems to be expert on this pen 720p h.264 HD Spy Pen.


Please inform also if it's true that this pen can be charged from an external power bank and record AT THE SAME TIME?

And if it is possible to change card- what is the maximal capacity possible to use with this pen - 16GB or 32GB OR 64GB?

And if I could use external power bank and lets say 32 GB card or 64GB card- what will the maximal possible RECORD TIME be?

Thank You in advance for fast answer with instructions

Regards Edgar

August 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdgar

Edgar: I don't use this pen anymore so I can't say for sure. I think it is possible to charge and record at the same time because the pen is based on 808#18 afair with some features cut off. Max card size is probably 32Gb because it is the max limit for FAT and this pen is unlikely to support exFAT. How many hours will lay on a 32Gb card, you can easily test it yourself. Record one hour and see the size, for example Mobius writes 1.15G per 10 minutes, 7Gb per hour. Now divide 32Gb/7Gb and you have 4.57 hours which is 4 hours and 34 minutes approximately (this is for Mobius, but the pen may have lower bitrate and thus will record slightly more videos on the same card).

August 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnatoliy

Dear Anatoliy

Thank You for fast answer

I could not find any seller with exactly this video pen model nowhere on internet

The last question to You or some other expert on this site:

Where can I find a seller and buy a video pen 720p h.264 HD Spy Pen or other brand, which meets those 2 reqiurements

1.A video that pen can be charged from an external power bank or external battery and record video AT THE SAME TIME

'2.And with possibility to change memory card between different capacities 3.8.16.32 GB and s.o

Thank You in advance for fast answer with sellers names and links and pen model names

Regards Edgar

August 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdgar

Edgar: I'm not sure that you should stick to spy pens because:
1) they are less reliable than tested and trusted models of action cameras of the same price (in terms of firmware and hardware).
2) they have tiny lens in comparison with action cameras (lower overall quality and darker videos when recording in low light).
3) they have a small capacity battery to record 30-40 minutes only and if you attach an external battery, it will not look as a spy pen anymore :)
4) most of them have the tf card so deep that you won't replace it easily.
5) hidden video recorders are illegal in some counties and a spy pen is illegal because the camera is hidden in the pen and not recognized as a camera. You may have problems with the police if you are caught with it. At the same time, action cameras that are designed as cameras are legal even if they have approximately the same small size. I know, it's stupid, but it's the way it is!
6) and finally, you won't cheat anyone with this pen unless you are going to spy some stupid tribe in Africa! All modern people know how camera lens look like and they will see it at once if you try to record them close enough with this pen. Even if it just hangs out from your bag, it attracts attention anyway because people usually do not wear normal pens in visible places. I tried different pen positions and found that it is only suitable if you are going to spy from covet places such as the floor under the bed or put it on books somewhere in a dark corner of your room but you will be caught with it in the streets for sure! But I don't know why you need it and how you are going to use it. If you are going to spy in your room (for example, to see how a nanny deals with your child when you are away), it's better to hide a tiny action camera such as Mobius or 808#16 because it has reliable hardware and firmware, it allows you to easily replace TF cards and record with an external battery and does whatever you may need.

August 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnatoliy

Hi, I love your reviews. Thank you! I bought the spy pen (8GB) about a year ago and gave up because I couldn't understand the instructions. Because of your YouTube video I can understand how the camera operates but I still don't know how to set the date and time - and I can't find this information on your blog. Please could you tell me how to do this. Thanks very much!

October 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterconwaytwitty

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