Zetronix is a spy gadgets distributer based out of Boston, Massachusetts, and has been in the online electronics market since 2005. We’ve had a number of requests to review their HD spy camera pen and compare it with other top of the line models such as our current number one recommended spy pen by SecuritySystems. With this in mind, much of the review will focus on comparing the Zetronix device with the aforementioned professional bench mark. Suffice to say for those who want the quick and easy answer: the SecuritySystems’ pen remains far and away unchallenged as top choice for P.I’s everywhere. For those looking for why, read on…
As per usual, we ordered two devices, both of which were the 8GB iterations. They arrived in neat, discreet cardboard packaging containing the camera pen, A/C adapter, USB cord and user manual. We ordered on a Monday evening and received the spy camera pens Friday afternoon, taking longer than expected. One of the boxes appeared to have been handled roughly, with significant damage to the corner. It remains unclear if this occurred prior to or during shipment.
The Zetronix camera pen comes with the company’s standard one year warranty, which is quite frankly disappointing, especially given the price point. It is hard not to compare this spy gadget to the SecuritySystems model which is less expensive and comes with a lifetime warranty, currently unprecedented in the industry today. As professional investigators, reliability and a company that stands behind their product is paramount to our professional success. I have said it before, you cannot be in the field with a unit that cannot be counted on 100%. Too much is at stake; our time, money, and the product we are obtaining for our clients. Zetronix and other manufacturers need to take a clue and get behind their product like the current camera pen champion.
Video quality on this device records at 720P at 30fps in the .AVI format. Overall, we were satisfied with the day-light performance of the pen camera given the top-level range of competitors in this price bracket. That being said, and despite the use of a Sony ClearVid sensor, low-light recording was disappointing on both devices. We assume the company is genuine in their claim of utilizing the Sony part, however the sub-par results remain puzzling. In our line of work we frequently operate in areas of low lighting, as such this is a serious concern for professionals. The SecuritySystems device performed SIGNIFICANTLY better in these conditions. Again, another point for the current Champion.
Playback was smooth on the Windows machine we tested, utilizing VLC player in both cases, we enjoyed 30 fps. NOTE: The Zetronix z-PenHD does NOT work with the Mac OS. This is a serious concern, as in our office we do all our video editing with the Mac OS X. Some of the guys carry Windows machines with them, but be warned, if your office conducts professional level editing with Apple products (not to start a debate on PC vs Mac, both have their pro’s and con’s) definitely look elsewhere. This Windows-only compatibility can become an issue in your office. Once again, the SecuritySystem device comes out on top, with duel compatibility. This is extremely important, meaning all the Investigators in your office can upload and sync their video seamlessly without concern for the OS used.
The Zetronix spy camera pen has two modes, video with audio or audio only. NOTE: There is no video only mode, so professionals who work in areas where audio recording can cause legality issues, be aware Zetronix is not catering to your requirements. Continuing on with our comparison to the top ranking spy pen, the SecuritySystems team offers a video only model. Point again to the current reigning camera pen manufacturer.
Memory is internal and comes in 8GB or 16GB storage capacities. Two important things to note with internal memory: 1) If the memory becomes corrupted, you are out of luck, and the pen camera is now obsolete. 2) Professionals need interchangeable memory. We need it for legality reasons in terms of storage on the original card (in court to make it less likely video was tampered with), and more importantly, when working mutiple files it is important to keep multiple claimants separate on their own card.
Conversely, the SecuritySystem pen is expandable with its memory, suited perfectly for professionals. In addition, the SecuritySystems spy camera comes with proprietary supplemental equipment that allows for continuous recording (permanent surveillance unit) in which case you would want and need bot larger and interchangeable memory.
Another loss for Zetronix spy camera pen.
Operation is relatively simple, with a single push button initiation to activate any of its modes. In terms of comparison with the current number one recommendation, the Zetronix does well, but does not live up to the SecuritySystems polish, which includes a lens clasp to both hide and protect the lens when not in use. In addition, the Zetronix device was noticeably chunkier in its design. The spy cam wrote smoothly fulfilling its secondary operation as we as expected.
This really bugged us. The phone number Zetronix provides on their website does not work. We emailed them questions about the spy pen (in our test to see their response time) on a Friday morning and received an email the following Tuesday. This is unacceptable at this price point. Again and again SecuritySystems proves why they deserve to be the top professional choice. Same day replies, real working phone number.
Final Thoughts and Other Criticisms
Lets consider this: The Zetronix spy camera pen has a bright flashing LED diode in the most conspicuous of places. The SecuritySystems device does not. The Zetronix spycam has inferior low-light video recording ability, detrimental internal memory (see our discussion above), is chunkier, is not Mac compatible, more expensive, does not have a video only model, does not have a motion activated varient, does not have the proprietary equipment for permanent surveillance options, and most importantly, does not have a lifetime warranty. Oh ya, and the time and date stamp implementation is a pain.
The Zetronix device, although solid in comparison to the vast majority of other pen camera offerings, fails to even remotly approach the professional standard the SecuritySystems spy pen has since established. 3/5