Penrecorderpro.com has existed as an online spy pen camera retailer since 2007, operating out of Rexburg, Idaho. The company distributes a variety of voice only or video and voice style recorders, in the mid to high price range. We ordered two of their 4GB slim SL spy pens. We also took advantage of their free shipping offer, which took significantly longer than expected to arrive in the North East, requiring 9 business days (to be fair, part of this time included the holidays).
The spy cameras arrived in nice and neat packaging. We are going to start something a little differant with this review, and break it into categories focusing on the “Good”, the “Okay” and the “Bad”. Disclaimer, one of the devices was field tested by an investigator, while the second was simply tested in our office. As it was the holidays for part of the review period we only had so many P.I’s on the road. In anyevent, lets start off with the ‘Good’.
Product ships from the U.S: Although we did complain about the longer than expected shipping time, it is indeed our preference to receive our devices from a supplier located on the continental U.S. This is a plus for the following reason: With the high defect rate in pen cameras–some suppliers (check out our BLACKLIST) should be banned from selling–it is important to be able to receive, and if needed, return the spy camera within a reasonable about of time, usually 30-days from purchase. Offshore companies can trip you up as the shipping exchange will often exceed this amount of time.
Build Quality: Both of our test devices had a solid feel, with a satisfying heft to them. With our infield tester, we noted the pen casing held up well to the rigors of the job, with the clip fastener taking a fair amount of abuse. Also, this device has no flashing light which is another plus. Writes decent as well.
Audio Playback: On playback, both devices offered crisp sound, none of that radio buzz you hear on less expensive devices. Trust us when we say after watching even 10 minutes of video with a frequency over-sound, it’s enough to drive you mad.
Software: Easy to install, relatively simple to operate. Works on both Windows and Mac. Solid.
Video Quality: At 640×480 we were a little dissapointed with the resolution given the price range. The colors were also muted and the FPS seemed choppy, particularly with moderate to fast movement in the picture . It is not the worst we have seen but it is certainly nowhere near the best, especially given the $140 price tag, we feel it should operate at least at 720i.
Photo Quality: As above, for a premium spy camera the 1.3MP 640×480 still pictures is quite poor. About equivalent to an older model blackberry or samsung phone (as in 2008 models, not the current 8-12MP variety).
Customer Service: The 1-800 number was not working, and we called a number of times of a period of days. That being said, there is a handy online forum on the company’s web page where you can post question concerning your product. There is also an in-depth FAQ section which we found help. In terms of email, the staff never got back to us on one email(this is surprisingly and frustratingly not uncommon in the industry) however a second email was answered within the day. We are not sure what happened exactly, but it is likely safe to assume the system on their end is not yet perfected.
EDITOR: Penrecorderpro.com got in touch with us, and we must say they were quite professional in explaining and apologizing for the unfortunate issues we had with their customer service. They have since informed us they are doing everything they can to stand behind their products, and based on further details provided, we believe them. They have also informed us of a new model they will be distributing soon, so stand by for that.
Storage/Memory: The included 4GB card is acceptable for most tasks, particularly given the low resolution in which the spy camera records at. Our tests showed about 3.75 hrs of video using max settings. A perfect example of an ‘Okay’ feature.
Warranty: Standard crappy 1-year warranty. The thing is folks, when you are paying $140 bucks for a device with only 640×480 resolution, it has to have one major redeeming factor, such as reliability. Reliability is in actuality the single most important aspect when dealing with spy pens. Without it, you risk losing the once in a lifetime video moment you aimed to capture. penrecoderpro.com also only gives you a 30-day warranty on any replacement device, which is basically saying, ‘if this one doesn’t work, you’re outta luck.’ This is defiantly bad and they lose a lot of points here. If you dont stand behind your product 100%, it does not say much.
What Does it Come With?
-1 Slim SL Video Spy Pen CAM2
- 1 TV Output Cable
- 1 4GB Micro SD Card
- 1 SD Card Adapter
- 1 Extended Battery Pack
- 3 Ink Cartridges
- 1 Headphones
- 1 USB Data/Charging Cable
- 1 Instruction Manual