Budget Covert Cameras Tested

By Derek Ward, Published Nov 26, 2019, 10:36am EST (Research)

****** ******* ***** $*** *** ****** available ****** *** *** **** *** good?

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** *** *** ***** ****** ****** work ** *** **** *****, ** bought *** ****** **** ** *** most ******** ****** ****** ******* ** Amazon, *********:

*** ********** ******, ********* ** ****** ******** - ****, Hanwha, *********, *****, ********** *** ********* **** *******, ********* ****** ********* ******.

****** **** ******, ** **** *** which *** ** ***** ** ** best, *** ***** ***** ******* ****** in **** *****, *** ***** *** WDR, **** ********* *********.

*******

** *** *****, *** ***** ****** cameras ******** ****** ******* ** ****-*** scenes **** ****** ******** ********. *** light (~*-* ***), **** (~*.** ***), and *** ****** *** ****** ******* reductions ** ***** *******, **** ** way ** ******* ***** *** ****** settings.

*******, ***** ****** ** *** ******* to *** *********** ** ********** ************ cameras, *** **** **** ** *** USB ******* *** ** ****** ** residential ******** ** ******* *** **** security ***** **** ********* *** ** their *** ***** *** ***********.

"Best" ******

** *** * ******, ** ***** the '****' *** *** ***** ***** since ** *** ***:

  • **** ****** *** ********* *** ****** to **** *** ****** (***** ***** IR *** * ****** ******** ****** naturally **** *** *****
  • ******* ** ***** ** ******* ****** on *****, *****, ********, ***. ****** the *********** ** ******* * ****, smoke ******** ** *******
  • ***** ******* *** ******* ***** ******* compared ** ***** ****** ****** *******, though ***** ******** ** ********** ****.

*******

*** ****** ******* ********* **** ~$*** USD ** *****. *** ******* ***** was **** *********,$**.** *** ******. *** ********* ****** ***** ***~$** ******, ***** ******** ***~$** ******,*** *** ******* ****** ****** ***~$** ******.

Physical ********

** *** ***** *****, ** ******** the ******** ************ ** **** ****** camera ******:

Full ***** ***** *******

*** ****** ******* ********* **** ** full ********, **** ******** ****** ~**' - **' ** *** ******. *** cameras **** **** ** *** ******, and *** ***** ***** ** ** example ** *** *****, **** *** subject ~**' **** *** *******:

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**** *** ******* *** ***** ****** ~10' **** *** *******, ******* **** solid:

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**** *** ******* ******* ****, ******* on *** ******* *****, ***** ******** and *** ******* *** ***** ******, but *** *** *** ** *** panoramic ********* ***** ******* **** ** discern.

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Poor *** ***** *** **** ***** *******

** **** *** *** *** ******, performance ****. *** ******* ***** ****** camera *** *** **** ********** ******* to ***** ***** ****, *** ***** slip **** */* **** ** ** at ~* ***. ****, ** *** not ******** ** *** ***** *******. The ********* ******** **** ** *** light **** ***** ********, *** *** color-only ***** ******** *** *** ******* had *** *******.

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**** ******* ****, *** ********* ** able ** ****** *** *******, *** details *** **** ** ******* ***** low ***.

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** *** ****, *** ********* *** picture ***** ******* ******* ***** *** IR ************. ****, ***** *** ** issue *** *** ******* *****, ***** is "*********" *** *** ***** ******** details ** *** ******** ****. *** color **** ***** ******** *** *** charger ******* ******** ** *****.

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******* ****, ******** ********* ** **** possible, ** **** ** ******* **** to ******* ******* ** ****** *** subject ** *****.

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Recommend ******** *** ******

** **** ***, ** ****** *** overhead **** ** *** ******, **** the ******** ~** *** *** ******** of ~*,*** ***. **** ***** ** from *** ******* ***** ******, ***** does *** **** ** ** ******, as **** **** *** ********* ** red ** *** ******* ******* ** the *** *****.

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*** ****** ******* ****** *** *** spec'd *** *** ******, ** *** to ***** **** ** **** ** possible **** ***** ****. *** **** areas ** *** ***** *** ********** dark, ** *** ******* ******* ******** to ***** *** *****.

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*********

**** *** ******* ***** *** ********* cameras ******* **** *** * ****** app **** ***** ~*-* ******* ** get *********. **** *********, **** ****, recordings, *** ***** ******** *** ** set ** ********. ***** ** ** image ** *** **** ******/**** **** of **** **** *******.

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*** ***** ******** *** *** ******* do *** **** *** *** ** view ******* ****, *********** ****** *****/******* cumbersome. *** *** ******* ******** ** an ******, *** *** ** *** to ****** ** ****** ******, ** continuously ** ~* ****** *****. *** smoke ******** **** * ******, *** once *******, *** ****** ********** ******* for ~** *******, **** * ********, record **** *****, ** ****** ** motion.

*** ******* ****** ** ** ** card, *** *** ****-******* ******* ***** and ********* ******* *** **** ***** and ********* ** * ****** ****** as ****.

***************

***** ********** ** ****** ***** ****** covert ******* ****** ** ******* ** deploying **** ** ****** *** ***** with ****** ** ** ***** ********. Otherwise, ******** **** **** ***** ******* is ******. ***** *** ***** *** portability ** **** ** *** ****** cameras ******, ********** ***** *** **** value ** ******** **** ** ***** away **** **** *** **** **** of ************ ** ********* ****** ******.

Comments (5)

Thanks for this set of tests! Good info.

Searching through the Q&A on the amazon page for the picture frame I didn't see ONVIF or RTSP mentioned. Any of these you tested have a standardized interface?

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Hello UM1,

The picture frame (and lightbulb camera for that matter) did not have ONVIF or RTSP capability. The only way to control them were through a mobile app during testing. We've since included an image in the usability section of the report, showing the "home screen/live view" page of each camera/app.

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Any with RTSP?

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Shouldn't we consider ethics in discussions like this? Yesterday's WSJ featured the role of western companies in China's oppressive use of surveillance technology.

Deploying cameras essentially "notifies" subjects that they are being watched. Reasonable people then act accordingly. We generally agree that this has a positive deterrence effect and that it helps investigate when there is a problem. Covert cams have a place for investigations, etc but they also have a huge potential for abuse and creepiness. This should be part of the discussion.

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#2, that's a fair post. This is a test, so just like when we test Hikvision's products, as an example, we try to focus on the tech itself but certainly, the risks and concerns you bring up are valid.

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