The Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera possesses an array of features and beneficial recording options that make secret surveillance simple and convenient for all users. With its subdued, universal appearance, this covert alarm clock boasts an appealing design that won't intrude on the aesthetics of any room. The TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award recipient offers dual functionality, imperceptible disguise and superior performance over most of the other nanny cams in our lineup.
The Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera nanny cam boasts a range of features we found to be convenient and highly useful. The main feature we sought in all the nanny cams we reviewed is built-in DVR (digital video recording). This means it is equipped with internal memory (in the form of a removable SD or SDHC card) that enables it to be completely self-contained, with no wires to hook up or external receivers necessary in order to record video. With its robust DVR capabilities, this nanny cam only needs to be plugged in, similar to any other conventional alarm clock, in order to begin recording.
Another feature we looked for on nanny cams was motion detectors, which can help conserve battery life and finite memory space. This covert camera is equipped with a highly sensitive motion detector that triggers recording only when there is activity in the room. We love this feature mainly because users aren't forced to wade through hours of blank footage. Other features we liked include time-stamped recordings and an overwrite selector (sometimes referred to as auto-cycling) that automatically deletes the oldest clip once the camera's memory is full to capacity, making sure recording continues uninterrupted. The camera can also be programmed to simply stop recording once the internal memory card is full.
The best overall nanny cams tend to be those that offer different recording options that permit customized recording, ensuring the hidden camera doesn't fail to capture the most crucial of moments. This Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera model does just that by providing three different recording modes: manual, scheduled and motion activated. Manual refers to simply turning on the covert camera and allowing it to record until it is manually turned off. On the other hand, the 24-hour scheduled recording allows users to select certain times for the camera to automatically record, like when the individual who requires monitoring is on duty.
In addition to modes, the covert camera is equipped with various recording qualities, including high, medium and low. The ability to specify quality allows users to fine-tune video output quality; high quality facilitates a clearer, crisper picture while low quality recordings (though grainier) are smaller files that do not take up as much space on the memory card. Thus, users with concerns regarding limited memory may opt for a medium or low quality to ensure the camera doesn't run out of space for recordings.
The range of recording options on the Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera allows users to really optimize recordings to fully suit their particular needs. But given the versatile features and functions of the camera, we were surprised to find it cannot take still pictures – a beneficial feature a handful of competing products offer. Furthermore, unlike our top-ranked nanny cam, this one does not have audio recording capabilities.
One area in which this device excels is its design. We love the commonplace appearance of the Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera nanny cam, which provides an entirely convincing and undetectable guise. The small camera lens is virtually indiscernible, and the memory card slot is discreetly located out of sight on the back of the clock. A nanny, housekeeper or any other individual that warrants monitoring would hardly suspect it to be a hidden camera.
Because many similarly-priced units only have black and white video, we especially like that this integrated camera boasts a CMOS image sensor that enables color video and auto white balance. Simply put, white balance is the process of removing unrealistic color casts in digital images. Subsequently, the video rendered by the nanny cam is highly realistic and accurate in terms of color.
The design features that really make the covert camera standout are its memory and video viewing capabilities. With its built-in digital recording, the nanny cam can support either microSD or SDHC cards (SDHC cards can read and write data faster than SD cards). The camera comes equipped with a 2GB SD card but can impressively support a memory card up to 32GB. With a 2GB card, the camera can record video without running out of memory for approximately one month when used in motion detection mode; a much larger 32GB card can increase that storage capacity significantly. With motion activated or scheduled recording mode, users could essentially record for several days without having to upload footage to free up memory space.
Equally as noteworthy is the device's simple video viewing capabilities; watching recorded footage doesn't get any easier or more convenient than it does with the Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera. Using the included RCA video wire, users simply plug the clock directly into a television or monitor to view recorded footage, or they can insert the SD card into a computer. The manufacturer asserts that footage can also be viewed live when the clock is plugged into a viewing device; however, we aren't sure how useful this feature is since a covert camera must be in the same vicinity as the individual being recorded, thus defeating the whole concealed purpose of a nanny cam.
While the design is overall impressive, we were a little disappointed that the camera's minimum illumination (or how much light is necessary to render a distinguishable picture) was a lux rating of two. Most nanny cams are not equipped with infrared (night vision) and consequently need some light in order to adequately capture footage. One lux is equivalent to the light emitted by a full moon, and many of the other nanny cams we reviewed had low lux ratings less than one. This means they can perform better than this particular nanny cam under low-light conditions. That being said, since nanny cams are typically used to monitor an adult's behavior during the day, as opposed to something like baby video monitors used to monitor an infant at night, the mediocre lux rating should not be an issue for the average user.
Since covert cameras have such tiny integrated cameras, mediocre video output is to be expected. However, we were surprised to find this camera boasts surprisingly good output. With a maximum video resolution of 640 x 480 (standard on most nanny cams), recorded footage is clear enough to distinguish people, activity and specific behaviors without any difficulty. Moreover, a frame rate of 30frames per second ensures the video is not noticeably abrupt and movement appears fluid.
While a nanny cam disguised as an alarm clock may not be perfectly suited for every household, there's no denying the Covert Alarm Clock DVR Hidden Camera performs its inherent function of covert recording flawlessly. With its substantial memory capacity, flexible recording modes and convenient features, the covert camera is ideal for any homeowner, parent or small business owner who wants to keep a close but clandestine eye on hired help.
The stand-alone nanny cam boasts dual functionality and customizable recording options.
This covert camera cannot take still digital images.
It's the best overall nanny cam that offers built-in DVR and internal storage.