The top performers in our review are the SVAT Covert Alarm Clock DVR, the Gold Award winner; the SleuthGear Xtreme Life Wall Clock, the Silver Award winner; and the SleuthGear Zone Shield Night Vision Oscillating Fan, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a hidden camera to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 hidden cameras.
Hidden cameras use clever designs to thwart criminals that seek to exploit your home or business. Even though these pinhole cameras often seem like they only belong in spy movies, these cameras have practical applications as well. A well-placed hidden camera can protect your family at home, your employees at work or your valuable warehouse inventory. Secret cameras must be fully functional and reliable, performing their tasks without alerting potential burglars to the fact that you're secretly recording them.
When we set out to find the right hidden cameras for our lineup, we looked past many of the budget models that we have in our nanny camera review. The main goal was to highlight more expensive products that are suited for long-term surveillance in your home or business. With that in mind, we found four features that stand out in the best hidden cameras. You may recognize the first three criteria from our nanny cam review: a DVR, recording triggers and video resolution. The fourth feature is a robust warranty.
The DVR allows the camera to save video directly to a memory card. We found that this is often the easiest way to access hidden camera recordings using your computer. Next, we looked at recording triggers. We chose cameras that have motion detectors, as this is an excellent way to save space on your memory card. We also considered other triggers such as continuous recording and scheduled recording.
A warranty is something that most budget nanny cams lack but is necessary with hidden cameras. The warranty helps protect your investment, especially considering that quality hidden cameras are usually more expensive than $200. There are a few hidden cameras in our lineup that even come with lifetime warranties, such as the MiniGadgets HCBulb720 and the Sperry West Smoke Detector. If you're looking for more information about what's important, check out our articles on hidden cameras.
Hidden Cameras: What Else You Should Look For
Hidden cameras come in all shapes and sizes. This means that different cameras have different strengths. Regardless of the camera's strengths, you should look for a balance of recording options and design features. You also want a camera with a reliable customer support organization. After evaluating these characteristics, you will be able to choose a secret camera that best fits your needs.
Recording options are an excellent indicator of a hidden camera's potential. Each camera in our review has color video with time and date stamps. Additionally, these cameras have built-in DVRs that use removable SD or microSD cards, so you don't need to rely on an expensive security system to record your security footage. Due to many laws prohibiting hidden cameras from recording audio, none of the cameras in our review record sound.
The best hidden cameras can capture still images, and they also come with a remote control and adjustable recording quality. A variety of recording triggers can help you record video only when needed, which saves on storage space. As a bonus, look for a hidden camera that has dual functionality. This means that the hidden camera's disguise, such as an alarm clock or a fan, is fully operational, allowing the camera to further blend into its surroundings.
You should look for a hidden camera design that uses a high-resolution camera to capture fine details such as facial features. A high frame rate allows you to record smooth video, while a low frame rate allows you to record more video. For low-light conditions, choose a camera with a low minimum illumination for greater sensitivity in darkness. A covert camera with a wide field of view has a better chance to see activity in a room when you aren't around.
A hidden camera with a USB connector or an RCA video port that connects to your computer or TV allows for easy viewing of security footage. Some hidden cameras run on batteries if you need a portable option. Look for a hidden camera that records in a standard video format such as MP4 or AVI. The best hidden cameras come with a memory card and expandable video storage up to 64GB.
Help & Support
The safety of the things you care about is a top concern, and having a strong support system to back up your hidden camera can give you peace of mind. The best hidden cameras are backed by an excellent warranty of a year or more. You should look for a company that you can contact via email, telephone and live chat. It's also important to choose a hidden camera with an easy-to-understand user manual that shows you how to use the unit.
You don't need to be an undercover agent to have a use for hidden cameras. Some pinhole cameras are ideal for a home setting but may not perform as well in a business setting. Ultimately, you must choose the best hidden camera for your needs and circumstances. With a covert camera protecting the things you value most, it's possible that even James Bond will be a little jealous.