I used to review phones. Then I guess people saw those reviews and thought “hey, let’s send him some other stuff to review”. Now I’ve got a pen with a secret camera in it.
Why you’d want one of these is a question for you. Perhaps you want to steal company information and risk a spell in he nearest jail. Perhaps you want to grab evidence of bad customer service from a store or company. Perhaps you want to do want to pretend to be James Bond, snapping your friends, family or colleagues without their knowledge, only to upload them to Facebook and probably have them hate you.
Out of the box, it’s a pen. I can’t really describe it much more than that. It’s a bit wider than a standard pen and the bottom half does actually operate as a pen would. You get three ink refills in the box, so it’s just a matter of sticking one in and then screwing in the top half, which is the camera section.
The instructions are a little distant but to be honest you really don’t need them. There was bit of charge in mine when it came out of the box and you simply pop it into a USB port to charge it up. This takes a couple of hours to fill it up. If I’m honest I’ve not managed to run it flat yet, so I can’t tell you how long it’ll last but I’ve had it snapping pictures and video on-and-off for a week without an issue. I’m told that the 180mAh battery will do 90 full minutes of video footage before you need to charge it again, which is fine considering it’s a pen.
To power up, just press the button up top for a couple of seconds. You’ll get a yellow LED on the rear, which turns blue when you snap a photo or remains blue whilst filming video. To switch modes, you need to unscrew the top and find the small switch on top of the USB port. It’s simply enough and I actually used the pen itself to flick the switch.
The best position for this pen is probably in your top pocket, and then it’s just a matter of tapping the button on top to capture shots. If you don’t take a shot for a minute (or film anything) it’ll shut down, so you need to wake it up again.
There’s a USB driver CD in the box plus an extension cable to the USB port (should you have any issues getting the USB pen into your computer) but to be honest neither of these things were needed for me. It plugged into a Chromebook and simply provided USB mass storage with one folder for video and another for photos.
The pictures taken by the VGA camera are a little washed out and strangely seems to perform better when you take shots of things close-up.
The AVI video is 640×480 at 30fps and it records audio too. There’s 4GB of storage in the pen and it is, I’ve got to say, really smooth. Don’t ask me why but the AVI recording is far better than the camera shots. Here’s some examples (I’m chatting to my son in one or two of them)…
Videos in low-light suffer a bit, but provided you’re inside in the daytime the recordings work well and they’re far better than the photographs.
If you want to clear up the storage on your pen you’ll need to delete the files yourself, although you can reset the whole thing with the reset button – press that with a pin.
If you’d like my usual car-based video review, here’s the magic..
The Spy Pen is available from PrezzyBox for £34.99 as I type. It’s a natty little gadget for those who want it, although you will have to be aware how much trouble it’ll get you in if you misuse the thing (don’t take pictures of company documents etc). It is perhaps useful for recording evidence and proving something, and although the resulting images weren’t totally fantastic they did the job. The video footage was much better and if I’m honest you’ll probably be wanting to use it for that anyway.