King-Ring Surveillance 

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Maybe James Bond would consider it beneath him but others might find this next product useful for covert photography

swann RemoteCam Video Camera Recorder DVR 410

 Adding to its range of security products, Swann has released its RemoteCam™ device.  Combining the ability to capture still images and video clips with an audio accompaniment, the RemoteCam is a pocket size unit that comes attached to a key-ring presumably to avoid suspicion when out and about undertaking covert surveillance.

Adopting a kind of flatten ovoid-like appearance, the RemoteCam’s body is constructed of a rubberised material.  While there are four buttons laid out on the top of the unit, only two are actually required by the device.  The two buttons required to operate the RemoteCam are situated near the front on the right side, conveniently located for a right-handed user’s thumb.  The rear button turns the unit on and off while the front button operates the camera when taking still images or video clips.

But what about the other two buttons located towards the rear of the RemoteCam towards the left side?  According to the supplied mini Operating Instructions booklet, the rationale behind the presence of the other two buttons is that the “majority of remote controls have more than two buttons.  To keep up this illusion, we include these two additional buttons”.  These two buttons do not serve any useful purpose apart from confusing the user and making me wonder what other unnecessary features might be lurking elsewhere within the depth of this product.

Running along the left side of the unit, when held in the shooting position, are a mini USB socket, reset pinhole and MicroSD card slot.  As the RemoteCam does not possess any storage capacity of its own, it needs to store its captured content on a MicroSD card.  Included in the package is a 2GB MicroSD card.  The USB port and the supplied lead can be used to charge the device either direct from the mains with an appropriate adapter plug or via a computer plus when you need to view any captured still images and video clips as the RemoteCam does not possess its own viewing feature.

The unit’s camera lens and microphone are mounted on the front of the device well away from the key-ring.  Due to size considerations, the RemoteCam’s camera has a fixed focus lens.  According to the instruction guide mentioned earlier, by keeping the subject matter at least two feet away from the lens should mean that you will have no worries over focus issues.  For taking a picture of somebody’s face, you need to be three feet away while a full body shot would require a distance of between six and ten feet.  With regards to exposure, the RemoteCam is meant to adjust automatically to different conditions although you could help by avoiding the combination of brightly lit backgrounds with dark subject matters.

According to the supplied documentation, the RemoteCam will date and time stamp its captures.  In order to enable this feature you will need to create a text file containing the current date and time in a specific format.  Once this file has been copied to the MicroSD card, the RemoteCam will adjust its internal date/time settings accordingly.  Unfortunately this procedure failed to work whenever I attempted it.

As this device is being marketed as being for covert surveillance, it should come as no surprise to hear that lining up a shot is being regarded as low key as you surreptitiously aim the camera in the general direction of your subject.  Judging by my efforts, this approach was more often miss than hit.  Even when I managed to capture my subject within the frame of a shot, the results were barely adequate.  I was distinctly unimpressed by the quality of the still images and video clips captured during my tests.  Audio recording was of a better quality but this hardly made up for the images.

Video is captured in AVI format with a resolution of 720 x 480 at 30fps while still images are in JPEG format with a resolution of 1280 x 1024 interpolated.  You should get 60 minutes of use from a fully charged battery.  Complete with its 2GB microSD card, the RemoteCam is priced at £49.99 which seems a lot for a device that is more miss than hit.

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OverallSwann RemoteCam rated 48 out of 100

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