Power Pen Digital Pocket Video Recorder
MRP: Rs 1523
What is a spy cam for? It's for a pervert to enjoy voyeurism. It's for a parent to ensure his kids are safe. It's for the overly-suspicious husband. It's for the law to bring that much needed evidence to court. It could be used for a bunch of things - ultimately, the device itself doesn't have to answer any ethical questions, but you do. Therefore, we've decided to review this nifty little thing for you, ladies and gentlemen. But be ye warned: Getting caught will not be fun, because people like to shoot first and ask questions later. This is especially true in India.
It's called the Power Pen, and the company calls it a "Digital Pocket Video Recorder". Hmm, diplomatic. The package contains the pen- shaped recorder with 16 GB disk space, a USB cable, and a hastily-written manual. The upper half of the pen houses a 2.0 megapixel camera and records from a tiny hole above the clip. Spin the pen top 180 degrees and you see the indicator LED - this lights up in yellow or blue, depending on what the camera is doing. The only button on this recorder is right at the top.
The instruction manual is a laugh riot: it keeps referring to recording as "kinescoping". Funny as it is, you'll still have to skim through it a couple of times to figure out how this thing works. All you have to do is pay attention to the tiny indicator LED. When you press the top button once, it turns on, flashing a yellow light. This indicates that it's ready to record. During my tests, I did however find that the pen would skip the "ready" mode and go straight to "record". It isn't very consistent, but basically, all you have to remember is that when the light is blue, it's recording. To stop recording, just press the top button once more and give the pen a few seconds to save the video. The light goes back to yellow, and you can then turn it off by keeping the button pressed for a few seconds.
The top half of the pen can be separated from the bottom to reveal a USB port at the end, which you can plug into your computer. You can also use the bundled USB extension cable. When you plug in the pen, the LED flashes yellow to indicate that the battery is charging. The pen takes about 45 minutes to charge completely. You can also use this device as a portable storage drive.
Recorded videos can be found in a folder called VIDEO on the drive. The clips are saved in the AVI format and have a date and time stamp on them. They are named according to the date you shoot the videos on. Also, the bottom half of the pen has a nib that slides out if you twist the gold part. And surprise, surprise, you can actually write with this pen!
Tests Of Fire!
Security Cam - I figured that leaving the camera on all day while I was out at work would be the best way to test the recorder's limitations. I was curious as to whether the disk would run out of space first, or the battery out of power, during this test. I left it attached to my window sill so I could spy on the pesky pigeons who have been trying for weeks to set up a base of operations in one of my potted plants.
I came back six hours later to find the camera switched off. I charged the recorder and found it had plenty of disk space left, and had recorded just over 2 hours of video before conking off. Clearly, this is a mission- specific device. The captured video was clear and I noted that the pigeons checked in every 30 minutes or so. Yes, that's a completely unnecessary detail, but hey, you're not the one dealing with a pigeon menace.
Audio Tests - I couldn't figure out where the mic was placed in the pen, but it was clearly capturing sounds from all directions, which is a good thing. I placed the recorder in front of my TV screen, recorded five minutes of video, then played it back. The mic was surprisingly good and captured all the dialogues clearly. It didn't capture the extreme frequencies too well, but that would be expecting too much. I figure it's doing its job if you can listen to the audio and tell exactly what's going on.
I also tested the distance at which you begin to lose the clarity of spoken words. I'm guessing it's somewhere in the 5 to 7 metre range, and trust me, that's bloody good. It captured every noise I made in the room: from my speakers, to sounds of me scratching various body parts.
Grocery Shop Recon - I knew I had to take the recorder on a true-blue spy mission for you TechTree readers.