Nanny cams literally come in all shapes and sizes, most notably when they are cleverly masked as common household objects. These devices enable parents to monitor activity in their homes when they're away. The best nanny cams are disguised as things such as clocks, electrical outlets and other appliances to ensure that people don't disable or disarm them.
Case in point: our top-ranked nanny cam is an operational clock camera that covertly records video through a tiny pinhole lens. Ideal for discreetly monitoring an office or common area in the home, the Mini Alarm Clock Hidden Camera is an easy-to-use, stand-alone nanny cam that easily seizes our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award.
This covert clock camera comes with most of the features we would expect to find on a top-rated nanny cam. Primarily, the camera has built-in DVR (digital video recorder) so it can function independently of an external recording device. Secondly, a motion detector helps avoid blank footage by activating recording only when there is activity or movement occurring in the room, saving both battery life and memory. Lastly, the camera offers time-stamped recordings and dual functionality as a working digital clock.
While we were disappointed to find that the clock camera does not have an overwrite selector to automatically delete the oldest recording to free up space on the memory card, one thing we found that the nanny cam offers over our second and third-ranked products is remote-control operation. Using the compatible remote control, you can subtly turn on recording from up to 60 feet away.
In order for the Hidden Camera to function properly, it needs an additional component that is not included in the package. You must purchase a microSD memory card separately. This memory card provides the memory capacity needed to store the footage captured with this nanny cam.
The fact that a memory card is not included with the unit is a source of supreme frustration for many users. Customers expect for a product such as this to work directly out of the box, which is a reasonable expectation. This omission is one of the few aspects of this nanny cam that we did not like. However, a 4GB microSD card only costs about $10. While it is frustrating to buy this component separately, if it's the biggest problem you have that day, then you're probably having a pretty good day.
One thing we would have liked to see on this clock camera is time-scheduled recording; without this option, you are limited to manual recording or constantly using the motion-detection mode. Video resolution is a respectable 640 x 480 pixels which is standard on most comparable nanny cams.
Despite its lack of modifiable recording options, the clock camera does offer a handful of other useful functionalities not found on many other nanny cams. For instance, the camera can operate as a basic webcam and take still images with 1280 x 960 resolution using either the remote control or the buttons on the camera.
When it comes to design, the Mini Alarm Clock Hidden Camera delivers flawlessly. The camera boasts color video and a maximum viewing angle of 72 degrees.
This nanny cam also comes equipped with a powerful built-in lithium-ion battery for convenient and long-lasting portability. This battery lasts about 10 days when the unit operates in motion-detection mode. Even when it's not in this energy-saving mode, the battery life of the Mini Alarm Clock Hidden Camera meets the needs of nearly anyone looking for a discreet nanny cam.
Another area where this nanny cam could use some improvement is in low-light situations. When a room is dark, images captured by the Mini Alarm Clock Hidden Camera are fuzzy and distorted. This isn't indicative of a flaw in the camera; it's a symptom of a room being dark. The only way to combat this problem would be to include a night-vision sensor. For a nanny cam that costs less than $100, that just isn't going to happen. However, we would like to see some better low-light settings.
Of all the nanny cams we reviewed that are disguised as fully operational clocks, this model is one of our favorites in regards to aesthetics. The design is simple and non-intrusive, with an ordinary, conservative appearance. Consequently, the clock camera would look just as fixture on a countertop or shelf as it would on a nightstand. Moreover, we like that users can choose to power the device with the built-in battery or included power adapter, whichever is most convenient.
The clock camera's memory capacity is likewise very good. It can support a memory card up to 32GB in size. The fact that you can have that much storage capacity is a huge boon to this nanny cam. Again, we really would like to see a memory card included with the device itself, even if it's not the maximum 32GB the unit is capable of supporting.
By taking advantage of the clock camera's best design assets – its built-in battery, motion detector and maximum memory capacity – you can use it for days without worry about running out of memory or draining batteries too quickly.
This alarm clock nanny camera has decent video output. The default resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and frame rate of 30 frames per second, the video is quite clear without any perceptible distortions or jumps.
The main selling point of the Mini Alarm Clock Hidden Camera is value. The price-to-feature ratio on this unit skews heavily in favor of features. You simply won't find a nanny cam with more features at this price point. This is a dual-edged sword, however. The unit lacks some features such as time-scheduled recording and it doesn't include a memory card.
However, this nanny cam boasts a range of beneficial and unique features, including audio recording, a built-in lithium-ion battery and substantial memory capacity. Couple those features with a discreet design and a functional alarm clock, and you get an affordable and feature-filled nanny cam that seamlessly blends into any room.
The clock camera has a generic, non-intrusive design.
There's no time-scheduled recording option.
This is the go-to nanny cam for anyone interested in recording video.