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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)

I mean - where did u get that info from - ebay is full of chinese spy stuff

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermatt

I've been doing this stuff for a while now. A couple of years back Chinese retailers were forced to remove the spy equipment parts of their site.
Here is a news article about the ban.

October 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Cody, I was following the discussion on keychain cameras pretty closely a few months back. There was a 1080p / 720p60 model at the time and I think this is probably it. It did seem to be genuine 1080p though obviously the quality doesn't match more expensive cameras. There was also an encoding issue experienced by many users which is hard to explain in few words but resulted in inconsistent video quality. This issue would seem to be the reason this cam didn't really take off and unfortunatly it might be insurmountable considering the limtations of these cheap componnts. H.265 might change this, but for now 1080p just doesn't seem doable for under sixty bucks. The 720p60 mode was found to just duplicate every frame, so file size doubled but playback was no better than 720p30. It might not be the same camera and firmware might have fixed these issues by now, but I don't think either is likely.

November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Just so you know, absolutely nobody will EVER notice you are wearing a pencam, as long as you look 'nerdy' enough, I guess - I've used my pencam scores of times, even when I happened to bump into somebody I knew and talked to them for a few minutes (and the pencam was in my shirt pocket, already on), they didn't notice. But the thing that most tells me that nobody will ever notice it is the fact that even when I'm wearing one and filming, I have never, not once, looked at anybody else and looked at any pens they might have in their pockets, and thought 'Is that a pencam'?
These things are pretty amazing, and very useful for covertly recording the police when they are, how shall I say it, overstepping the mark with members of the public.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie's Aunt

Have Amazon uk Same These Produces<<plz whats name salesman <<< First Real HD Spy Pen (h.264)
ty

April 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersultan

You've got useful reviews, but I want to add some tips about this pen. First of all, it can be disassembled. The first ring on the top covers a spring. You can stretch it to make it harder and avoid casual activation and the ticking sounds that you mentioned and. My pen also had some videos recorded casually during delivery :) The second ring on the top hides the device itself. You can move it out by pushing on the usb cable (not pretty much easy but possible) and you'll see a 130mah battery and a 4gb kingston TF card which can be replaced with the one of larger size (but the TF slot is not standard, the card is kind of glued from the top of it with a kind of sticker). However, I don't suggest you to open the pen without a reason because all this stuff is so small and fragile and can be damaged easily. The other thing is that the writing part is replaceable. Just unscrew it with the appropriate philips ("+") screwdriver, shake it off and replace it with a new one (it's standard but short, so you can use a one from an old pen with little ink left), then screw it back to its place. Have a nice spying time! Personally I like 808#16 more because of better video quality and a standard usb cable, but unfortunately they don't produce them as pens.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnatoliy

I bought this from my local dealer in Malaysia... https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=1927665&view=findpost&p=60739432

I also notice you could use this Ez Configuration #18 1.0.0.6 software to configure the setting in this Spy Pen... http://2kool4u.com/minicams/Ez_Configuration_18.shtml

I wonder if the Key Chain Cam 808 #18 later firmware is compatible with this Pen Cam H.264... http://www.2kool4u.com/minicams/keychaincam720P_18.shtml

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRodney Yeo

Dear Techmoan,

Did you experience a problem with the SpyPen Cam producing a 5KB AVI file at every last video recording which is corrupted?

Please see this forum thread post Post #118 for more info...
https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=1927665&view=findpost&p=60928287

Thanks.

Rodney

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRodney Yeo

Kindly see thread review Post #117 and #118 for two different firmware bugs issue with the SpyPen Cam #18 HD720p

https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=1927665&view=findpost&p=60927850

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRodney Yeo

Sorry,
I'm about to buy the pen based on your review. But the same page offers this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Professional-1280x720P-HD-Spy-Camera-Pen-5MP-Mini-Video-Recorder-DVR-H264-8GB-/161091641410?pt=US_Surveillance_Digital_Video_Recorders_Cards&hash=item2581cf6042

with a supposedly higher res. Any thoughts?

September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIris

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