The thought of spy cameras usually conjures up mental images of James Bond or undercover documentary types. In the past, the types who had the money and resources to get their hands on these little things were few.
Rare and expensive in the past, nowadays technology has made these tiny spy cameras commonplace and very affordable. In fact, if it wasn’t for the screen size of modern day smartphones, we would all be packing our own little spy cameras.
Which brings us to the best dedicated spy cameras on the market. These solutions can be built into everyday objects, such as pens, clocks and doorbells, with some having the ability to be controlled remotely.
Possible applications include baby monitoring and home security, with many now having more advanced features such as motion detection and night vision. Which brings us to our shortlist of various spy cameras, with different price points and applications.
1. Blink XT2 (Overall Winner)
The small form factor of 71 x 71 x 34mm from the Blink XT2 makes this little unit ideal for home security. The standout features include 1920×1080 HD video which intelligently swaps to an infrared view for night-time. Along with two-way audio which can be used via the Blink app on most smartphones for talking to delivery guys and the like.
Two AA batteries provide up to two years of use and being completely wireless, with video clips stored online for up to a year, the Blink XT2 makes for a great home security system.
If you’re needing ultra-discreet, then a Spy Camera Pen is a good solution. There are a good deal of these units on the market at roughly the same price points, with many coming with HD video and an included 16GB microSD memory card. They are all charged via USB and in this case has 30fps with up to an hour of recording time.
Very discreet and it even works as a regular writing implement. The main caveat is that with such a small device, the user has to keep the unit extremely still for the best quality footage. However, in a static position, the video quality is very respectable considering its tiny size.
If you had to make a list of all the household objects you could stuff a tiny camera into, you will probably eventually come up with a clothes hook type of device. This is exactly what we have here with the Yumfond Clothes Hook Camera, which features 1080P video at 30fps, stored on an SD card. The built-in lithium battery can be charged via USB and lasts roughly 120 minutes and has loop recording.
Caveats to this little device are the USB port and SD card slot are at the back of the device. Which means it needs to be taken down to charge or access the memory card. However, as a discrete and cheap spy camera, the unit can blend nicely to any environment as long as you don’t hang a big heavy coat on the thing.
If you are reading through this list with the sole intent of seeing just security type cameras, you may be wondering why a traditional-looking unit has been included. When it comes to cute and tiny cameras, you can’t beat the Minox DCC DCC 5.1 for its classical looks and palm-sized dimensions.
Although it looks completely analog, it has a resolution of 5.1MP, a two-inch display and an optical viewfinder. It even boasts a Leica lens and rock-solid build quality. There is a 14-megapixel version, which is far more feature-rich and also has video, but it’s also extremely hard to get hold of.
In all honesty, not the best security or spycam in today’s market. But, as a kitsch little camera, with a fantastic build quality, its diminutive size is bound to win over those who want to add something extra to their camera collection. Especially as Minox has been making quality tiny camera solutions for eons.
Many of these cost-effective spy camera products are generically made, so we plumped for the one with the most positive reviews to test. The Wireless Bulb Camera features a 360-degree view, with night vision, motion detection, 1080p video and remote viewing via a smartphone.
We initially didn’t have high hopes for a generically made product, but this solution produced very good video quality with a fisheye view of the world. It can be turned on and off remotely and although it’s easy to spot its tiny little lens, once the E27 power socket has been installed, it’s a very discreet solution. Considering the cost, there are a lot of features packed into this little unit.
For those out there who want the most advanced features, the Kami Home Security Camera is a likely candidate. It may not be the most discreet unit on this list, but it definitely makes up ground in functionality. The camera can rotate with 360 degrees of coverage and 95 degrees of tilt, with remote control via a smartphone. Video quality is also good, coming in at 1080p with 30fps.
Power comes from the included USB lead, with the setup being very quick and painless. Video clips can be stored in the cloud, but they are limited to six-second bursts. This unit is the most expensive one on the list, but it also feels like the most quality made solution with the most features.
7. Omples Camera Clock (Budget Winner)
Although digital spy camera clocks are available on the market, the Omples has a cool analog display and strikes a balance between cost and functionality. Features include 1080p video, simple connection to a smartphone via Wi-Fi, live streaming, night vision, motion detection loop recording and all stored on an internal Micro SD card.
This camera doesn’t record audio, but the video quality is very good and there doesn’t seem to be any lag when viewing the video feed remotely. The other benefits of this device is the built-in infrared LEDs, which provide a nice and clear night-time view. Very discreet and makes for a great home security cam.
Bottom Line on Spy Cameras
When it comes to the best spy cameras, there are lots of niche products on the market, such as spy glasses, cameras hidden in USB chargers, and tiny little units. They do have their place, but for long-term use, most are used for home security, which many in the above list provide.
If nothing else, the list above will give you a good launchpad for discreet camera options. All of them have good video quality considering their price points. The good news is that the majority of these solutions come under $100, making them affordable assets for home security.