When the Sharpener Isn't What It Seems

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Ever since nanny-cams grabbed the spotlight, video surveillance has hardly been the monopoly of law enforcement. Cameras masquerading as common household objects can be bought by anyone. This raises the question: sure it's a hidden camera, but is the outward product functional? Can the clock with a clandestine camera tell time? As a value-oriented consumer, I want the cover story to be genuine, not a prop. It turns out the answer depends on the product.

For example, the BM3106 Pencil Sharpener Hidden Camera features built-in recording via an SD card, a Sony CCD camera with 0.5 Lux light sensitivity, and motion detection, but it wouldn't know what to do with a No. 2 Pencil if it was stuck with one. Luckily, I have my two-hole plastic sharpener ready to go in the top drawer of my desk, and I don't even need to plug it in.

The same goes for the Bolide Technology Group BB1010 Smoke Alarm with built-in black and white camera. While it will record 420 lines of resolution and easily connect to a TV or video recorder, you wouldn't want to depend on it to evacuate  the family. It is not a functioning smoke alarm.

Given the variety of sham cams offered by B&H, it should be obvious which products work as ostensibly intended. The BC1095 or BL2011C Color Teddy Bears are just as cute and cuddly with a hidden camera as a teddy that's 100 percent stuffing. Ditto for the BC1024 Color Baseball Cap Hidden Camera. The visor will help you shield your eyes from the sun while catching a pop fly independent of the camera. The BC1025 Color Jacket Hidden Camera affords a denim look wherever it's worn. The spy tie, also known as the BC1023 Color Neck Tie Hidden Camera, is equal to any tie in the men's department as a colorful yoke around the neck. These are gifts that keep giving even when the camera is off. Any one of the trio of apparel cams is a natural for Father's Day. (See images below.)

On the other hand, the book Without A Doubt, also known as the BL1218C Color Wireless Book Hidden Camera won't present the smoothest reading experience unless you don't mind novels with significant holes in the plot. But it does make one fine nanny-cam.

The less obvious camera-in-a-stash-can that may or may not work as outwardly intended are those that require power. The key modifying phrase to look for when searching for such dual-purpose products is "fully-functional." So, the BL1148C Wall Clock (opening image above) with embedded wireless color camera is in fact a "fully functional wall clock." Similarly, the BC1027 Desk Top Clock (left) has a color camera inside, and it's also "a fully functional and stylishly designed desk top clock." The manufacturer goes on:  "People looking at it will admire it for its fine craftsmanship and its ability to keep accurate time, never realizing that inside is a high resolution camera watching their every move."

As you can tell, shopping for a hidden camera is like looking to get two products for the price of one. How else would you explain the appeal of the BC1097 Air Purifier Color Camera. It's a camera and  "fully functional air purifier." According to the specs, "people looking at it will appreciate it for its ability to effectively remove airborne contaminants." Whether they appreciate being caught on a hidden camera is another story. 

 BC1024 Baseball Cap Cam  BC1025 Jacket Hidden Cam  BC1023 Neck Tie Hidden Cam

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Aww... why is Teddy sad?

 The manufacturer's specs don't identify the fabric from which that necktie is made. Is it hypoallergenic? Dry cleanable?