Have you ever seen a recording spy pen up close and personal?
Perhaps you’ve only seen them in movies, but had no idea that there are actually real ones. You may have even seen one in real life, without ever knowing it!
Many people these days make use of video pens for a lot of different reasons.
You might want to record a conversation secretly, for the purpose of gathering evidence. You might want to see what your employees get up to when you are not around. You might have any number of additional reasons to use one of these spy gadgets.
Whatever the reason, if you plan on using one, it is important to know how to use a spy cam pen correctly, without being obvious about it.
If you don’t yet have a spy pen and are looking for more information about which ones are good, check out this review of our favorite spy pen. If you’re on more of a budget, try this spy pen review.
What Is A Spy Pen?
You’ll be surprised to see that spy pens look and work like real pens. Most people cannot tell the difference. When you’re using a spy pen, it’ll never be obvious that you are!
The only real difference is that it has a recording device inside of it. Most of them allow you to take pictures, video and some of them even have audio capabilities. The quality, features and length of recording depends on the quality of the pen that you get.
Some offer high resolution, a top-quality lens, video recording, motion detecting, and a long battery life. Others don’t really match up to these specs, but of course, the price is lower.
The pen camera is powered by rechargeable batteries and most of them can be used for a couple of hours.
Ready to learn how to use a spy pen? Keep reading for detailed spy pen instructions, including charging and troubleshooting.
How To Use A Spy Pen
Here are a few simple steps for using a spy pen camera:
- 1. Press and hold the top button for up to 10 seconds or until the indicator light turns on. The light signals the pen’s readiness to record.
- 2. A short press on the button stops the recording. Usually, once the recording stops, the video automatically gets saved.
- 3. For some recording camera pens, there may be no light indicator, but pushing the button starts the recording all the same.
- 4. You can download and check out the video footage on a computer. It may be deleted from the pen automatically, or you may have to do this in a separate step.
- 5. The battery life is not long for pen cams, so be sure to charge it after each use. Follow the manufacturers instructions for this, and you may also have to charge it before first use.
***Please note: these are basic spy pen instructions that are common for most models. Please follow the instructions in the included information with your spy pen. It will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Take Pictures And Record Audio Clips With A Recording Spy Pen
A spy pen is an innovative invention used for taking pictures and recording video and audio clips discreetly. Because it’s very small and handy, it can easily be brought to different places by investigators. It is also used by civilians for a variety of purposes.
The inner components of a spy pen are a miniature versions of those used in electronic gadgets. A tiny viewing lens is placed by manufacturers near the top of the pen case. There is also a microphone which allows you to record some audio.
How To Charge A Spy Pen Camera
A common question is how to charge a spy pen camera. We recommend checking the instructions for your specific model of spy pen because charging requirements vary.
Some pens come to the consumer without a charge, so may require a lengthy first charge of 4-5 hours.
On the other hand, some spy pens with cameras come fully charged and ready to go from the first second you get them.
Most pen spy cams have an LED indicator light so you can see whether your pen is charging, or not. A steady, solid light usually indicates that the battery is full among many of the popular models. A blinking light is often a sign that the device is still charging.
Of course, it varies between models and brands.
Charging Methods For Spy Pen Recording Devices
There are various ways to charge a spy pen, depending on the model. Many of them have a USB cable that connects directly to your computer.
Some have a USB adapter, while others plug directly into the wall. In our experience, the ones with the direct USB connection are most convenient because you can transfer data, as well as charge the device at the same time.
How To Maximize Battery Life-Span
People often find that the battery on a spy pen camera is the first thing to go, and it’s the reason they have to replace it. It’s important to follow these tips:
- Never charge your spy pen in extreme heat or cold
- Try to drain the battery most of the way before charging it again
- Turn off the pen when not in use to reduce the amount of charging cycles the device goes through
- Pay close attention to overcharging (unplug it when full).
Do You Really Need A Spy Pen?
If you’re not working in the police force or connected with any private investigation institution, you may not actually need a spy camera pen. But there are definitely situations where they can come in handy, like the ones listed below.
Even if you don’t need one, it always makes for an interesting gift or just a great gadget to have fun with.
Kids love to use them too! (Check out Spy Gadgets for Kids). It’s a cool toy for a Christmas or Birthday gift for that aspiring James Bond in your life.
Here are just a few of the situations where you might want to use a spy pen camera:
- Important situation/activities (indoors and outdoors)
- Kids’ presentation in school
- Secret shoppers
- Harassment cases
Use A Spy Pen Cam For An Important Interview
If you have an important interview coming up, why not consider using a spy pen camera. You can turn it on before going into the interview and leave it in your briefcase or messenger bag.
That way, you can go back later and recall all the important details about the job description, salary, etc. that you may have missed during the initial go-around.
Perfect For Secret Shoppers
Some people also use spy pens for recording events inconspicuously. For example, if you’re a secret shopper who needs to check and show how the establishment looks like as well as the products, what the employees are doing, etc.
It’s often the case that a company (grocery stores) for example won’t want you to go around taking pictures of their prices and products. However, a spy pen camera allows you to do this a bit more discreetly than pulling out your camera or cellphone.
A spy pen camera can also function like your regular cellphone camera. For example, when you need to memorize a particular number so you take a quick picture instead.
Use for Harassment Cases
Another use could be if your work colleagues, fellow students or teachers are harassing you. The spy pen camera will allow you to catch them in the act. Maybe you’re traveling, or have other reasons not to want carrying a big camera around all the time.
Smartphones have cameras as well, but in some areas you don’t want to show your expensive smartphone. It’s also much easier to take the pen out of the pocket and take a picture instantly. Maybe you’re a student who wants to easily take pictures or record the classes. All of these things are possible with a spy pen.
Are Spy Pen Cameras Easy To Use?
It’s very easy to use a spy pen camera. It usually comes complete with instructions. There are sometimes YouTube videos for particular brand of pen with hidden camera as well. Usually, you just have to press a button to record a video or audio file or to snap an image.
Some of these cameras even have motion-activated surveillance cameras. You can get them started by flicking them. Check out the individual product description to see what features each one has.
What About Playback? Possible On The Digital Video Pen Itself?
A common question that we get is about playback. Can you do it on the pen itself, or does it need to be hooked up via USB cable to a computer. We’ve yet to find one that allows you to do playback on the pen itself. You’ll have to connect it up and download the footage to your computer.
Another option for the pens with removable SD card is to remove it, and read it on whatever device will work with it.
How Long Do They Last When Fully Charged?
An average or ordinary spy pen usually lasts for up to 100 minutes with a full charge. Sometimes it takes a while to charge then pen, so check from brand to brand. Since it cannot last very long, you can just turn it off when not in use. It’s simple to switch them on and off without other people noticing.
These days, there are some modern spy pens that claim to last for longer than this. You can verify this through feedback of previous buyers. We recommend reading the product reviews on Amazon very closely.
Also, you can now opt to buy an extra battery to charge at home and replace the other one when it runs out of power.
Can You Add A Memory Card To A Spy Pen Recorder?
Most spy pens are not like spy glasses that can have a memory card slot. Usually, a spy pen recorder will simply have a specific number of pictures and length of video that are allowed within its capacity.
However, now that memory cards have gotten much smaller, you can have a ton of recording time even in such a small package.
Where Can I Purchase A Pen Spy Camera?
Many people believe that carrying a spy pen with you wherever you go can come in handy. If you happen to chance upon an illegal act or something you would like to report, you can use the spy cam pen instead of your cellphone so as not to attract attention.
You can also use this to take images of important information, street signs, and more. Indeed anyone can be creative with the potential uses of spy pens. If you’ve decided that you want a spy pen camera you’ll probably want to know where you can get a good spy pen – look no further.
The easiest place to buy them is on Amazon. Check out our reviews for three of the best pens on the market. The reviews include links for the product pages on Amazon, where you can get the pens.
What Should I Look For In A Spy Pen Camera?
Quality varies considerably, so it’s best to shop around to find the right one for your needs. There are a number of options and factors that you’ll want to consider. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
- You can find ones with audio, video recording (usually avi format), and photo capability (usually jpg format), but some don’t have all three. Read the product specifications carefully to know what you’re getting. We prefer the ones that are a video recorder.
- Some come with a high digital video resolution, 1080p camera lens that take clear image shots, others offer much lower-quality. However, 720p is decent enough for most people.
- Some come with automatic motion detection, and begin recording when this happens, offering hands free operation.
- Automatic stop or turn-off to save battery life.
- Rechargeable battery (lithium ion usually) life varies considerably.
- Some include a date and time stamp, but others don’t.
- Some include an SD card (usually 32gb) along with the pen.
- USB cable is not always included, check to make sure if you need one.
- Good design with discreet recording lens that isn’t noticeable, even with closer inspection.
- Check to make sure the USB port isn’t obvious
- Compatible with your device and technology (Mac, PC, Android phone, etc.)
- What format you get the files in
- Refillable ink, so you can continue to use your spy pen for years, instead of just until the ink runs out.
- Memory capacity (most are 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB).
- Does it have built-in, internal storage? What size?
- Software that’s easy to get up and running.
- Clear instruction manual.
- Does it come with free shipping?
- Type of pen (most are fountain or ballpoint) and writing quality
- Good, professional customer service, and easy returns in case of a problem
- Available to ship to your country (sometimes not easy outside the USA or Canada)
Are There Ones You Can View Remotely?
If you’re ever used something like a nanny cam, or peephole front door camera, you’re probably used to being able to get alerts via Smartphone app in case of motion. Or, you may even be able to view the footage in real-time. This can be handy feature.
However, as far as we know, none of the HD spy pens on the market today offer this feature. After all, the person requiring the footage will usually be the one operating the pen, and of course, will be there in person!
Which Pen Video Recorder Do You Recommend?
Don’t worry. We’ll help you choose the right spy cam pen for your needs.
One of our favorites is the Vetro FBI-Grade pen. It has a 32 gb memory card, 90 minute battery life, and it’s essentially a portable DVR. If offers the user lots of features you’ll appreciate.
It has crystal clear 1080p video resolution, all the touch of a button. It’s super easy to use, right out of the box with a Mac or PC. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1 year warranty.
Easy To Use
Almost all electronics devices require at least a minute or two to learn how to use them and get them up and running. However, the best ones are designed in a way that they’re basically plug and play. This is one of the simplest ones that we’ve run across which requires very minimal fuss to get it going.
It also includes all the accessories you need to get up and running. Combine this with good customer support and you certainly have a winner! Some people carry this body worn device in the car with them to record their thoughts while driving.
Here Is How To Use It
- Press the button on the top until the LED lights up. It’ll flash and then turn off. This means it’s recording. The light stays off so that people won’t know you’re recording them.
- When you press it once quickly, the recording will stop. The light will turn on and it’s once again in standby.
- To turn it off, hold the button for a few seconds until the LED flashes a few times and stops.
- If you want to take photos, go into standby, and then double click the button. The LED will now be blue. Press it once to take a picture.
- To go back into standby mode from photo mode, double-click again.
Here’s What People Are Saying About It
“At first glance, it just looks like a high quality pen, but it’s way more than that. I use it to record most of my business meetings with customers so that I can review what we talked about and serve them better in the future. I find that the battery is good for just over an hour, and then it’s a quick recharge and I can use it again.”
“It’s really easy to use straight out of the box, and I love that it includes 3 ink refills. It also just looks like a regular pen and it’s not obvious when you press it to start recording. The key is to keep it charged just in case there’s something you want to record—you may not know ahead of time. I also like the option for continuous recording.”
“I just bought this mini spy camera and I couldn’t be happier with it. The quality is better than some of the other ones I’ve tried, and I love the large memory card that’s included with it. It’s not cheap, but you kind of get what you pay for in this case. The pen itself looks stylish and has a nice black ink.”
Where To Get More Info
You can read our detailed review of this model here.
My Pen Camera Isn’t Working: Troubleshooting Tips
Okay, so suddenly, your spy pen camera stops working, Before returning it to the manufacturer (if under warranty still), or buying a new one, try out these tips:
- Ensure that the built-in battery is charged. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth a try.
- Perhaps the memory card is full? Upload the footage to your computer and clear the memory on the pen
- Do a hard reset. It varies from brand to brand (check the instruction booklet), but often, you can insert a paperclip in the opening below the status light on the back. When you meet resistance, push lightly until the button resets
- Perhaps it’s the USB cable? They often break before the pen itself does. Try another one to see it that works. Also try another power source
- Switch from photo to video mode (not all offer video, and the resolution varies), or vice-versa. How this works varies by design. Check with customer support if you’re unclear how yours works.
- Erase and Reformat the spy pen. You can do this by clicking on the icon on your computer, and then choosing format, and quick format.
How To Fix A Spy Pen Camera
Is It Legal To Record People With A Spy Pen?
That’s a great question! You’ll have to check the laws regarding body worn cameras for the location in which you live because they do vary considerably.
Now that these kind of spy gadgets that used to be used only by government organizations and spy agencies can be found in the hands of regular people, lawmakers are scrambling to catch up.
Many states in the USA and countries around the world consider audio or video recording legal as long as one party knows about it. For example, you could record customers in your store without their consent.
Or, record a conversation with your child’s teacher for example. When neither party knows, this is illegal wiretapping.
If you want to record lectures or meetings, check with the participants first. Of course, it’s no problem to make recordings of the cute things your little kids say to enjoy them later.
On the other hand, some states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington) and countries around the world require both parties to know.
This is known as “two party consent.” Please be careful if you’re using a spy pen in one of these places.
Above all, please keep in mind our #1 rule: Only for good, and not for evil.
Can I Use A Spy Pen As A Nanny Cam?
If you’re looking to keep an eye on your home, business or child under the care of someone else when you’re not there, you may want to know if you can use a spy cam pen as a nanny cam.
In general, they don’t make a great choice for nanny camera. This is because they assume an operator is present to push the button to begin recording.
Compare this to a nanny cam that begins recording when motion is detected. Some send the footage to the cloud, others to a hard drive or micro SD card of some kind. If it’s wi-fi enabled, you can get alerts via Smartphone when the motion detector is triggered.
Check out some of our top picks here: The Best Nanny Cams. You may also want to consider a mini camera that records high quality digital videos when motion is detected.
Of course, please keep in mind that covert recording, even in your own home isn’t always legal. Please check the laws in the local jurisdiction where you live.
Spy Pen Camera: Your Thoughts
What’s your advice for using a spy pen cam? Do you have a favorite brand that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
- Why Is Night Vision Green? (The Surprisingly Simple Reason) - March 21, 2023
- Dash Cam Pros And Cons (Benefits And Drawbacks You Need to Know) - April 16, 2021
- How To Block Audio Recording Devices - April 15, 2021
Can they play recorded audio. On thier own. Does it have a playback?
Jackie Bolen says
It depends on the model, but most need to be hooked up to a computer for playback.