Hidden cameras used to be reserved for the likes of Hollywood studios, being put to use in spy movies or practical-joke shows. Now they're available to the rest of us. Hidden cameras usually look like a different utilitarian object, one which doesn't look out of place sitting on a shelf or table. Some look like alarm clocks or power banks, while others are simply so small that they can be hidden almost anywhere.
If you have a need for a hidden camera, then read our helpful buying guide on how to choose the best one. We've also included reviews of some of our favorites, like our top choice, the WEMLB 180 Degree Rotating Lens Hidden Charger Camera.
Considerations when choosing hidden cameras
Think about your primary purpose for having a hidden camera. If you plan to use it to keep an eye on the happenings outside your home, then opt for a weatherproof model. If, on the other hand, you plan to use it to keep tabs on your kids when you're not in the room, then you'll need something that might be disguised as some other object.
Think not only about the room where you plan to place your hidden camera, but also the location within the room where you think you'll have the best vantage point. This will help you select the right hidden camera for your needs.
If you want a hidden camera that has the ability to be moved around easily, then you'll want to avoid models that have a more permanent wiring setup. For maximum portability, look into a small outlet or phone charger hidden camera.
Some hidden cameras are rechargeable, while others need to be plugged into a power source. As with the considerations above, knowing how you plan to use your hidden camera before purchasing is key to choosing the right one.
Ease of use
If you want something that will require little-to-no installation or setup, then look into getting a plug-and-play hidden camera. These can be set up and used instantly, as opposed to ones that may need wiring or other setup.
You should pay attention to the memory capacity of hidden cameras when shopping. You will likely want to get one that can at least hold several hours of footage. Take note, though, that the more memory you get, the more the model will cost.
Outdoor vs. indoor
You'll have different needs if you plan to place your hidden camera outside vs. inside. Make sure any camera that will be placed outside can stand up to the elements without getting damaged by moisture or heavy winds.
Motion sensors are useful because they turn the camera on when motion is detected. That way you are unlikely to capture hours of footage of an empty room. Not all hidden cameras offer this feature.
Only WiFi-ready hidden cameras have the option to stream video live. Keep in mind that if your WiFi connection goes down, then you'll lose the ability to stream. Nevertheless, If streaming is a feature that you think you may want, check the specs of each camera for information on WiFi capabilities.
Night vision is a good feature for those who plan to place their hidden camera outside. Although it's not always the clearest image, some hidden cameras come with the ability to film in low light -- at a cost.
Hidden cameras will cost anywhere between $10 and up to $100, depending on the image quality and features.
Q. Is it legal to record someone on a hidden camera at my home?
A. Yes, but it depends on the situation. You can place hidden cameras in your home, and outside of your home. However, you cannot record audio of someone who is unaware of the recording. Also, you cannot record somewhere anyplace they would expect privacy, such as a restroom.
Q. Is it legal to record my employees?
A. Yes, it is. The same caveats apply to recording at work as they do recording in your home.
Hidden cameras we recommend
Best of the best: 180 Degree Rotating Lens Hidden Charger Camera
Our take: Works as a phone charger, and a hidden camera.
What we like: Plug-and-play functionality is easy to use. Rotating lens and HD quality make this hidden camera a winner.
What we dislike: WiFi connection can be challenging.
Best bang for your buck: AREBI Wireless Hidden WiFi Camera
Our take: Easy to use, and small enough to hide almost anywhere.
What we like: Built-in magnet makes hiding convenient, and has good lens for low-light filming.
What we dislike: Some had difficulty pairing with their iPhones.
Our take: Impressive features in a small package.
What we like: Can be worn as a body camera and has HD image quality.
What we dislike: Motion sensor can be overly sensitive.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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