People behave differently when they know they’re being recorded. Place an obvious camera in the center of your home and you’ll probably never catch someone stealing from you, a babysitter being neglectful, or problems with the nanny. But where do you hide a camera without having to undergo some elaborate reconstruction project? Putting cameras inside a teddy-bear worked well until Hollywood popularized it as a cliché. On the other hand, teddy-bears never did exactly fit inside an office setting, and never worked well for people who don’t have kids.
Whatever you need a spy cam for, USB-charger spy cams solve the problem of disguising the camera by sticking it inside a fully functional USB wall charger. And what better place to hide a spy camera than inside an innocuous-looking charger? People have them laying all over their homes and offices. Plus, USB chargers are reasonably well-identifiable, so most people will be able to identify the object plugged into the wall as a USB charger. And if they notice it and they’re not sure what it is, they’ll probably just see a strange box plugged into the wall — nothing to raise an eyebrow at.
In other words, you’ll be able to run subtle surveillance without worrying about getting caught. These cameras can be great for keep an eye on caregivers, home-cleaners, the nanny, thieves, or even just making sure your kids aren’t getting into any trouble. Whether you’re using it at home for security or sticking it in an Airbnb to protect your assets, you’ll be set to run practical surveillance over just about any area that has a wall socket.
Choosing a USB Spy Cam
You don’t need to collect hundreds of hours of footage of an empty room with no activity. Selecting a spy cam that makes use of motion detection is essential to ensuring you’re only capturing something footage which might be significant. Without motion detection, you’re bound to burn through your limited storage space with captures of nonsense. You may also want motion detection features that can be adjusted in terms of their sensitivity, which can be convenient for pet owners who don’t need minutes of footage saved every time their cat gets thirsty.
Higher resolutions are obviously nicer to look at and generally easier to see, but they also create larger files that eat up drive space. If you discover that you’re able to see what you need to see with 720p resolutions or less, then going higher will only inconvenience you. You may be able to quadrupole your storage time by choosing a resolution that’s clear enough to see, but not recording excessive detail. In other words, you’ll want to make sure that your USB spy cam doesn’t just support 1080p high definition, but also can be scaled back to smaller resolutions for maximum performance.
Security & Discretion
Another thing to reflect on is who has access to data from the camera. For that matter, you’ll want to think about how you access the camera yourself. Having an unsecured camera attached to your Wi-Fi could backfire and result in people spying on you, or neighbors messing with your camera through their own Wi-Fi connection. Depending on the build of the camera you choose, password options and other security settings may or may not be possible.
It almost goes without saying, but you’ll want to avoid cheap designs that aren’t discreet. Some USB cameras will use a recording indicator light that you can’t turn on or off. Some can be easily identified as USB chargers from a glance, while others simply look like a strange black box plugged into the wall. These minor details add up to ensure the device remains subtly undetected.
Recording Storage & Viewing
USB-charger spy cameras either come with built-in storage, or support swappable storage through SD cards. This is really a matter of personal preference. If you’re looking for more expansive options to store lots of data, there are fairly clear advantages to being able to swap SD cards. But if you’re not going to be recording days-worth of video and keeping it for archival, you’ll may be better off not having to deal with juggling SD cards, or having to buy one for your spy cam.
With the right USB spy cam, you’ll be able to view or review what’s been going on with your spy camera through the ease and convenience of an app. In other words, anywhere there’s an Internet connection allowing you to receive motion alerts, you’ll be able to check out your camera on the fly. But mobile features aren’t for everyone, and not everyone will want to use their smartphone as an intermediary device.
You probably don’t have to think about customer support because these products are supposed to be easy to use. If you’ve selected a USB spy cam that’s any more difficult than downloading an app and plugging in the device to the wall, you’ve probably made a mistake somewhere along the way. Nevertheless, strange issues can always arise with electronics, so it may be worth keeping an eye on customer support options as a bonus feature.
ALON HD Spy Camera
The ALON HD is brilliantly designed to look like a generic USB charger, like you would find plugged into thousands of outlets around the nation. But lurking behind the dark veil of this black design is a full 1080p camera, ready to record videos in 5-minute segments anytime motion is triggered. In addition to many more standard features, ALON can motion-capture high resolution images to help keep your storage space lasting even longer.
Partially in the interests of security, and partially in the interests of only capturing useful footage, this camera uses motion detection to activate 5-minutes of recording anytime the sensor is triggered. Once triggered, the camera can also take several snapshots for your quick review. With an SD card, you’ll be able to record motion-detected video from the alerts you receive, though the SD card isn’t included and size is limited to 128GB.
For added convenience, those 5-minute videos are saved with convenient timestamps, useful not only for identifying the time when the video took place, but also for navigating through a series of saved video files for easy browsing.
And then there’s the free app. With ALON, you won’t just get alerted when your camera catches something, you’ll be able to watch it from anywhere you can find Internet access. When you’re offline, you’ll be able to put an SD card to access your storage, but for playback from that SD, you’ll need to connect to Wi-Fi.
ALON makes it possible to record lower video resolutions like 720p and 640p to save space. The quantity of video you’ll be able to record depends on the size of resolution and SD card you opt to use, but at least several days is a good approximation. For maximum clarity, photos are shot with a reasonably strong five megapixels and a considerable 4032 x 3034 resolution.
WEBLB Spy Camera
The outwardly bland design of the WEBLB Spy Camera makes it a perfect imitation of an ordinary USB charger. The insides are anything but bland, hosting a 1080p spy cam and packed with more than just essential features. Combining live-streaming features with a complete alert notification system, this device is perfectly suited for just about every possible intended use of a USB spy cam.
WEBLB’s spy cam uses motion detection recording, which can alert you anytime motion is detected either through an app notification or through an email. But what really stands out here is WEBLB’s camera is the only device on this list which makes use of motion detection sensitivity options. You probably don’t want an alert every time an a/c vent blows across a plant in the background, and that’s exactly the kind of thing you can avoid with these settings.
Another significant aspect of WEBLB’s cam is it uses real-time recording, allowing you to live-stream captured footage from their free app whenever you need to. Because the device is Wi-Fi ready, it’s basically impossible to find better ease of use. You’ll be able to sync the charger with your phone in about two clicks, and their app works on both iOS and android for remote interaction. And on the off-chance someone recognizes this camera for what it is, your data will be safe because you can set separate password protections.
WEBLB’s cam supports SD cards up to 128GB, but does not include one. How much data you’ll be able to store depends on if you’re recording on lower resolutions like 480p or the maximum 1080p, and on the size of the SD card you end up using. But like with ALON, you can expect several days of footage at least. The device also includes a considerable 5-year warranty and 24/7 online tech support.
VOOPII USB Spy Charger
VOOPII has that perfect non-descript USB charger look which helps it blend in anywhere. The pinhole on front securely and subtly hides a full 1080p HD camera. But rather than recording in giant 5 minute bulks like ALON, this camera shoots in 3 minute segments. And rather than forcing you to run out and buy an SD card that may match the price of the camera itself, VOOPII uses internal storage. In other words, here you’ll find a great pick for a lightweight option that doesn’t require significant investments from your time or money.
Like the other cameras on this list, VOOPII uses a motion detection mode that will start recording for three minutes after first sensing something move. The difference between a three-minute recording and a five-minute recording might sound minor, but many captured scenes may only have two or three minutes’ worth of action. Depending on your intended use, five-minute recordings may fill your storage with footage of an empty room, and force you to scan through that empty footage each and every time you go looking through your data.
Rather than using a swappable SD card, VOOPII’s USB spy cam uses 32GB of internal memory. That’s suitable for about six hours of recording in 1080p, and that duration can be multiplied by switching to 720p or 480p recording. When the device runs out of memory, it will automatically start deleting the earliest files it’s saved. Depending on your intended use, that’s either an amazing feature that will save you time, or a potentially horrifying feature that will delete the important data you’re trying to save.
Choosing Between Three Great USB Spy Chargers
For a USB spy cam that excels in all the traditional ways a camera can, you’re going to want the ALON HD. It has nearly every major feature a spy cam can have, plus a reasonably strong photo-taking capacity. The 12-month warranty pales in comparison to other options on this list, but if your camera survives 12-months, it’s unlikely to suddenly croak on month 13.
WEBLB’s spy cam is ideal for people who are extra concerned with security. The extra layer of password protection ensures not just anyone who stumbles across the SD card or gets on your Wi-Fi connection will be able to start viewing the files you’ve saved. The advanced motion detection settings could either be an added bonus or an essential feature, depending on the accuracy in detection you’re going to need.
And then there’s the VOOPII USB charger spy cam. If you don’t have a spare 128GB SD card lying about and you don’t feel like shelling out for one, this may be your best choice. You don’t get the cool in-app viewing features you’ll find with the other members of this list, but not everyone is going to want to micromanage their spy camera. For a basic camera that gets the job done without many added steps, you’ll be perfectly satisfied with VOOPII’s USB charger spy camera.