I don’t have the martial arts skills or insolent cool needed to be a secret agent. But I’ve sure got the gadgets. This pen, for instance. It’s a nifty little writing instrument that’s also a surprisingly decent video recorder.
Swann’s an Australian outfit that has spent the past quarter-century making cameras and video recorders for home and business security systems. The company’s also figured out how to squeeze a 720p high-definition camera into a ballpoint pen. Yes, it writes just like the real thing, because it is the real thing. But push a button on the top and you can shoot video through a barely-visible pinhole lens set just above the shirt-pocket clip.
Actually, the pen isn’t ideal for making secret video recordings. I found that when tucked into a pocket, the lens was almost never pointed in the right direction. And there’s no image stabilization feature, so images bounce violently when you’re moving around. But when you point it right at someone, the PenCam takes surprisingly good pictures. The audio is decent too. The company says you can get 45 minutes of video shooting from a full battery charge. But make sure you’ve got plenty of flash memory. The pen takes a microSD card, which is not included. One gigabyte of memory equals about 10 minutes of video. You can also use the pen to shoot still images.
I’m not planning to inflltrate Doctor No’s secret lair anytime soon, so I haven’t much use for the PenCam. But you’re looking to shoot a little undercover video, it’s a handy, effective tool.
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