What do calculators, cola cans, vacuum cleaners, houseplants, and neckties all have in common? Each might hide a miniature video camera that’s watching and recording your every move. These sneaky spy cameras are inexpensive and easy to buy online, too. We’ve compiled a gallery of covert cameras commercially available for spies, wannabe gumshoes, and just the plain old paranoid.
Covert Plant Camera ($155)
Beware the potted fern—it may be a government plant. Nothing brightens up an office or a home more than a spot of greenery, but this undercover weed has darker intentions. Equipped with a wired or wireless, color or black-and-white spy cam, the Covert Plant Camera is well hidden and watches your every move. It doesn't capture audio, however, so feel free to speak openly in its presence.
Spies on you while you are: Tearing out magazine articles in your dentist's waiting room.
Calculator Spy Camera ($175)
Every desk has a calculator, but this seemingly benign number-cruncher sports something extra: a wireless camera hidden inside a pinhole that transmits digital video and audio to a pocket-size recorder. The video resolution is 320 by 240 pixels, and the calculator’s internal, rechargeable lithium ion battery powers the camera for about 45 minutes. The line-of-sight transmission range is about 15 meters (49 feet).
Spies on you when you are: Cheating on your taxes.
Tie Spy Camera ($150)
This sneaky neck adornment is much more than a fashion statement. A bland business tie hides a pinhole camera that connects to an MP4 player (included) with 512MB of memory. You can expand storage to 1GB by adding an SD Card. The player includes a 2.5-Inch TFT OLED display with 320-by-240-pixel resolution.
Spies on you when you are: Blasting the boss during a power lunch.
Hidden Cigarette Camera ($139)
These aren't your daddy's Marlboros. Tucked inside this seemingly average pack of cancer sticks is a tiny digital camera that transmits color video wirelessly to a monitor, a TV, or a recordable-DVD setup. The camera pinhole is well hidden on the side of the pack, and the device's transmission range is up to 300 feet (but likely less indoors).
Spies on you when you are: Playing Texas hold'em in the conference room during work hours.
Spy Shaver ($259)
It may look like an ordinary shaver, but this guileful groomer packs a small camera DVR that records AVI color video (1280 by 960 pixels, 30 frames per second) on 4GB of internal flash memory. It runs for 3 to 4 hours between charges, and includes a USB charging cable. This bogus beard-buster has a voice recorder, too. So if you spot a guy talking to his shaver, turn and walk away.
Spies on you when you are: Flossing in public restrooms.
Motion Detector Camera ($300)
No one is surprised to see a motion detector inside an office building. But this one has something extra: a hidden color-video camera that's ideal for recording the daily activities of employees and visitors alike. The Bolide Motion Detector Hidden Spy Camera includes a USB cable, two RCA cables for output to a TV or VCR, and an SD Card slot for recording video. You'll never look at a motion detector the same way again.
Spies on you when you are: Searching job sites on your work computer.
Secret Agent Pen Camcorder ($70)
Clipped to a mild-mannered nerd’s shirt pocket, the CECT Secret Agent Pen Camcorder seems no more threatening than your average writing tool. But its bogus blandness masks a dangerous double life, that of a clandestine chronicler of sensitive information. The video-capture quality--352-by-288-pixel resolution with a 15-fps frame rate--is unspectacular, but still good enough to get you fired.
Spies on you when you are: Bad-mouthing management during break time.
Hidden Camera DustBuster ($269 to $314)
Beware the strategically placed DustBuster! This faux handheld vacuum hides a wireless color or black-and-white camera with a 2.4GHz receiver. The X-Vision (.003 Lux) option on the black-and-white models improves image quality in dark rooms. Since it isn't a real DustBuster, however, it won’t clean under the sofa cushions when it isn't recording dirt.
Spies on you when you are: Sitting in Grandma 007’s parlor.
Chewing-Gum Camera ($484)
This clandestine color camera and audio recorder is sheathed in a chewing-gum wrapper with a strategically placed pinhole. It records either 640-by-480-pixel VGA video in .AVI format or 1.3-megapixel still images. An optional 1GB memory card stores up to 30 minutes of video, and the internal lithium ion batteries deliver 2 hours of recording time.
Spies on you when you are: Hankering for some Doublemint.
Minox Digital Belt Camera ($320)
This inconspicuous belt does more than keep pants up. Its buckle hides a miniature video camera that records hush-hush proceedings at waist level. As with many spy cams, the image quality is second-rate: 176 by 144 pixels at 15 frames per second. With its subnavel view of the world, the Minox belt camera may not be the best choice for furtive face close-ups, unless you’re a kindergarten cop.
Spies on you when you are: Stuffing breadsticks in your pocket at the buffet.
Coca-Cola Camera ($60)
Although the Real Thing may rot your teeth and make you fat, this fructose-free fake can wreck your career. A video camera tucked inside a Coke can, it records your not-for-prime-time moments in 352-by-288-pixel resolution at 25 frames per second. And with 4GB of memory, a rechargeable battery, and up to 15 hours of continuous recording time, this aluminum-clad snoop is nothing to burp at.
Spies on you when you are: Teaching the world to sing, in perfect harmony.
Hidden Mirror Cameras ($259 to $364)
The two-way mirror goes high tech with these creeptastic creations. Every voyeur on the block will crave either the bathroom-ready Vanity Mirror or the wall-friendly Hidden Camera Mirror. Both feature a hidden wireless color camera with a 3.7mm wide-angle lens for capturing others' private moments. Hey, why not toss in an hour of free psychiatrist counseling too?
Spies on you when you are: Fixing your hair.
Hidden Camera Sunglasses ($43 to $60)
Unlike some spy cameras--specifically the Coke can, chewing gum, and DustBuster varieties--this gumshoe special isn't a dummy product. It's a functional pair of shades that also happens to include a teeny, 1.3-megapixel video camera right between the peepers. It holds 1GB to 8GB of memory, and can shoot from 1 to 12 hours of video. A rechargeable lithium ion battery powers the spy glasses for 2 hours between charges.
Spies on you when you are: Lounging at the beach on a sick day.
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