In addition to providing accountability for in-home caregivers, a hidden camera comes in handy if you frequently have other people coming into your home, making deliveries, cleaning, doing maintenance, or performing other contracted work. While a hidden camera should never be your only method of monitoring, it can serve as an extra set of eyes while you’re away from the house.
We reviewed a few popular hidden cameras several months ago, but since then, a handful of hidden cameras have pinged on my radar. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorites.
|Product Name||UOKOO Fisheye Camera||Conbrov Mini Spy Camera||Romhn Charger Camera|
|View Product||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
#1 UOKOO Fisheye Camera
Many hidden cameras pose a power dilemma: you either have to find a way to conceal a power cord or constantly monitor the device’s battery status. Not so with the UOKOO—the bulb gets its power from a light socket like a regular light bulb. This may pose a challenge if you don’t have a light socket with a proper vantage point for the room, but a floor lamp with adjustable arms may be a workable solution.
Though this working bulb is pretty inconspicuous, there’s a black lens in the middle of it, so the UOKOO is not technically hidden (but could pass for a smart bulb). While it probably won’t catch the eye of someone coming in and out quickly, like a burglar, someone like a caregiver who spends more time in the house may notice it eventually. Because it’s a little more conspicuous, I can see this working better against theft or in a situation where the caregiver knows there’s a camera around.
Pricing & tech specs
- Resolution: 920p
- Size: H: 5.4 inches, W: 3.2 inches
- Power source: Light socket
- Storage: MicroSD, up to 128GB (not included)
- Price: $84.99
- 360° fisheye view
- Night vision
- Mobile app monitoring (iOS or Android)
- 2-way audio for real-time conversations
- Less hidden than other options
#2 Conbrov Mini Spy Camera
The camera can be set to be voice or motion activated, and its footage is stored on a MicroSD card (not included) so you can review on your computer later. This video includes a date and time watermark, making it more usable as evidence if necessary. One drawback to the Conbrov is that it can only store up to 150 minutes of footage at a time, which is why the voice/motion activation is important. This time limit means it’s probably not the best option if you want all-day monitoring of your child’s playroom, but would work well for shorter-term observation.
Pricing & tech specs
- Resolution: 720p
- Size: H: 2.2 inches, W: 0.9 inches, D: 0.8 inches
- Power source: 1 lithium ion battery (included)
- Storage: MicroSD, up to 32GB (not included)
- Price: $79.99
- Date and time video watermark
- Voice and motion activated
- Easily concealed
- Rechargeable battery
- Only records up to 150 minutes at a time
#3 Romhn Charger Camera
This is the highest-resolution camera on this list, and its video performance is rated well by customers. Despite this, its third-place position is due to its lack of night vision, limiting its use to well-lit situations. To be clear, most charger cameras do not have night vision capabilities, so while disappointing, this lack of an important feature is not out of the ordinary for similar products. Some customers complain that the included 8GB MicroSD is subpar, but that’s easily and cheaply fixed with a higher-quality card.
Although this charger is inconspicuous, it will require a clear view of the room, which isn’t always offered from the vantage point of a power outlet near the floor or hidden behind furniture. I can see this working well in a playroom, where the activity is usually close to the floor anyway, or in a kitchen, where outlets are often placed above counters, offering a higher viewpoint.
Pricing & tech specs
- Resolution: 1080p
- Size: H: 4.8 inches, W: 2.5 inches, D: 4.1 inches
- Power source: AC
- Storage: MicroSD, up to 32GB; 8GB card included
- Price: $60.25
- Built-in microphone for audio recording
- Working two-port charger
- No night vision
- Included MicroSD is low-quality
Things to consider when choosing a hidden camera
There are plenty of great security cameras that are both reliable and equipped with modern features like app monitoring and smart motion detection, but it’s strangely difficult to find hidden cameras of the same quality. Because of this, my first priority in selecting the cameras for this list was to find the ones that work well and perform reliably. Then I looked for forward-thinking technology such as app monitoring, motion detection, and concealment within devices that actually make sense. Finally, I only considered products that have been endorsed by real people who had purchased the device and used it to keep their home and family safe.
The specific camera you choose will depend somewhat on the room you want to monitor, as some designs will work well from certain vantage points but not from others. Look for something that you can place in a spot that will offer a good view of the room and blend in with the space. For example, if you want to watch over an aging parent, a babyish teddy bear might not be the most logical method of camera concealment.
When you install the camera, do a test run to make sure it gets enough light to produce a good-quality image—you may need to reposition the camera if the image is too dark or too washed out. Confirm that the angle is right for the activities in the room as well. For example, if you want to observe a playroom, where most of the activity happens close to the ground, you probably don’t want something that’s positioned too high without a good view of the floor (though an overhead fisheye lens like the UOKOO could work well for a setup like this).
Legal and ethical considerations
In all 50 states you’re allowed to install video surveillance equipment in your own home, whether those being recorded are aware of it or not. It is illegal, however, to record in a space where a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as a bathroom or bedroom. So if you have a live-in nanny, for example, you can install cameras in the kitchen and playroom, but not in the nanny’s bedroom or bathroom.
Several states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington) have some version of what are called “two-party consent” laws that make it illegal to record a conversation without the permission of everyone involved. That means that you’ll want to be careful about recording audio along with your video footage, as it may invalidate your video evidence in court and could even lead to charges being made against you. The UOKOO bulb and the Conbrov mini spy cam both allow you to disable the audio recording (the UOKOO via the app and the Conbrov during initial time-stamp setup), but the Romhn charger camera has no clear way of turning off the sound-recording feature.
If you’re going to use a hidden camera, especially in a situation where you have a long-term caregiver in the home, take additional steps to ensure the safety of your family and to make sure the caregiver’s rights are not violated either. A camera should not be your only method of accountability; installing a camera should be accompanied by an overall effort to build trust and set expectations for behavior and treatment. Be sure to have regular conversations with caretakers about daily activities, general moods, behavioral problems, and disciplinary strategies. Also have regular conversations with your children or aging parent about their interactions with their caregiver. A person’s trust of the person watching over them is just as important as your trust of your employee.
The best hidden cameras recap
- UOKOO Fisheye Camera
- Conbrov Mini Spy Camera
- Romhn Charger Camera
A camera is just one piece of your family’s security
If you need to covertly monitor the activities going on in your home, a handful of hidden cameras are worth the investment. A few have app-monitoring capabilities, allowing you to stream in real time while you’re out of the house, while others rely on MicroSD storage to let you view the footage later. Any of these systems will require regular review of the footage, since space is limited (and what’s the good of hiding a camera if you’re not going to keep up with it?), but they can help hold everyone accountable and increase the safety of your loved ones. A camera shouldn’t be used in lieu of regular communication and trust-building, but rather as a complement to your family’s overall security plan.
Something to consider: If you’re are interested in reading more about cameras and our overall rankings of Top Rated Security Camera Reviews and how we ranked them, or if you have specific things you’re looking for, consider checking out any of these articles: Best Night Vision Cameras, Best HD Security Cameras, Best Cheap Security Cameras, Best Outdoor Security Cameras or Best Dash Cams.