Gadget Review: Swann Surveillance Flashlight DVR
If you routinely poke around dark areas and need to take pictures of what you see (such as a home inspector peeking underneath a house), you could use a camera and carry a flashlight. However, carrying two items can be clumsy, so as a simpler alternative, you could carry Swann Surveillance’s unique flashlight that combines a digital camera with a video camcorder.
The flashlight requires three C batteries and weights 520 grams (without the weight of the batteries). It’s rather large for a flashlight with dimensions of 3.11 inches at its widest point, which is its front, 3.85 inches high, and 12.83 inches long. The head of the flashlight contains the bulb and the built-in camera and microphone. If you’re used to ordinary household flashlights, this unit will seem monstrous in comparison. However, if you’re used to typical police style flashlights, this item simply sports a larger head for its lens.
There are three levels of illumination that you can choose. Just turn on the flashlight, aim it, and now you have the option of taking still pictures or video. If you choose video, you can capture audio as well. The camera captures images at 640 by 480 resolution, which is acceptable but definitely grainier than typical digital cameras or video camcorders.
The flashlight captures video in MPEG-4 format at 30 frames per second (fps) and can a maximum of 18 minutes stored on its built-in 128Mb memory. If you plug in an optional SD card, you can store up to 1.5 hours of video on a 1Gb SD card.
After capturing pictures, video, or audio, you can download the data to your computer through an included USB cable, which plugs into any USB 1.1 port.
Despite the limited camera resolution, this flashlight can be especially handy for taking pictures wherever you can point the flashlight, such as inside a car engine or in an attic. For security purposes, the flashlight can help you record events without another person’s knowledge.
Since the camera and microphone are hidden in the flashlight’s lens, you could point the flashlight at anyone and record video and audio without their knowledge, which could be handy for storing crucial visual and audio evidence. The built-in microphone captures adequate sound, but don’t expect crystal clear fidelity. Overall, the built-in microphone and cameras are sufficient for typical uses for this flashlight.
The Swann Surveillance Flashlight DVR may be a bit expensive for ordinary use. However, if you need a hidden camera and microphone tucked inside what appears to be an ordinary flashlight, this product is truly one of a kind.
- Built-in and hidden digital camera, video camcorder, and microphone
- Sturdy construction
- Built-in memory with optional expansion with separate SD card
- Includes USB cable for transferring data to a computer
- Photograph and video quality lower than an ordinary camera
- Audio quality of the built-in microphone is sufficient, but could be better
- Expensive compared to buying a separate camera and flashlight
The Swann Surveillance Flashlight DVR is currently available here for $238