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Sharper Image secret security Camcorder hidden in a clock
Price:$130.45+Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2005
It does NOT record sound, and it does a poor job of recording video. You also need to download a Divx codex from the Divx website in order to play the video. The only good thing is that you can play the video in realtime over a USB connection, which gives you some idea of how poor the resolution of the video is.

A 512MB SD card will hold about 45 minutes of video. You might think this product will record one continuous clip as long as it detects motion. Not so. The longest single video segment I have seen is about 2-3 minutes. The length of a given video segment seems to depend on the amount of motion being detected. I did some tests, and a scene where there's very little motion - such as someone working at a computer - will result in about 75 - 150 separate clips on the SD card with a few seconds' gap between each clip. It does NOT detect motion through a window.

The Pluses:
1) The AC wall adapter for this item has a power cord that must be at least 10 feet long, which allows placement on top of hutches and china cabinets.

2) The bottom of the camera has an ingenious 'U'-shaped depression that allows the camera to be angled forward and back in its base. This allows it to be tilted up or down through an arc of about 30 degrees, although in my situation I couldn't move it far enough and had to tilt the entire unit forward and prop it in place.

3) The motion activation itself is very sensitive. Recording will start on even the slightest movement - even 25 feet from the clock - and stops about 10 seconds after all motion stops. It does NOT detect motion through a window, but it WILL be triggered by sunbeams on walls and floors.

The Minuses:
1) I find that the motion activation is triggered even in pitch black conditions. But you'll need reasonably bright ambient light to get decent video, as it doesn't record video well at all in low-level lighting.

2) The quality of the video is very grainy and doesn't render details or colors or contrast well at all - hardly the AVI camcorder quality I was expecting. I have put up an image from an actual test i did using average room lighting, and it looks like if it was recorded in black-and-white through several layers of fine-mesh screening.

3) There is no battery backup for the video, even though the camera can run off 4 AA batteries (FYI: the user manual warns you that the batteries won't last long on batteries). If you lose power the camera reverts to being OFF when AC power is restored. It would be REAL useful if you could use rechargeable NiMH AAs that the camera would keep charged and use for emergency backup in case of a power failure.

Still, it's not TOO bad for only $150. Other devices I've priced where motion-activated video recording equipment is built into lamps, clock-radios, etc., starts about $800. But when this product advertises itself as AVI-compatible, you think you're going to get AVI quality and be sorely disappointed.

UPDATE: Honest people aren't the only ones who get The Sharper Image catalog. I went up to my cabin to retrieve the memory card, only to find that somebody had pried off the kitchen window. The only thing they took was the security camcorder.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2005
I recently purchased this item from Sharper Image and was very disappointed.

The video is faint, grainy (even in strong lighting), and out of focus once you are more than 2 feet away from the camera. Colors all but disappear. It's practically black-and-white video.

The power supply weighs more than the device itself (one pound, including cord) and is HUGE. It also gets very warm after an hour or so.

I've tested this product in every type of lighting situation and the results have been unsatisfactory in all cases. The only thing the device does well is detect motion.
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