Review: Swann PenCam

By Branko Miletic

Cast your mind back to when you were 10 or 12 and the only thing you wanted to be when you grew up was a secret agent or spy. For my generation, it was emulating Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 from the Get Smart  TVseries. But if you don't have a shoe phone or a Cone of Silence, not to worry, as now for less than a hundred bucks, you can have a PenCam.

PenCam, is exactly what is says – a digital camera inside a pen. So you can write and record at the same time. With 4Gb of space, you'll have enough storage for at least 2.5 hours of recording at 1280 x 1024 resolution.

There are two different modes of recording the PenCam allows for. For still digital photos, you switch the PenCam into ‘camera’ mode, which will cause an orange light to turn on and begin to blink. The blinking orange light indicates the PenCam is in standby. Once the camera has booted up (orange light blinking), all you need to do is press the button once to take a photo.

If you want digital movie recording, you switch into ‘video’ mode, which will cause a blue light to go out and the orange light will stay on and remain static. The static orange light indicates the PenCam is in standby. Once static all you need to do is to press the button to start recording. The light will change to Blue to indicate it is recording.

Playing with the PenCam was cool. It was fun to see my wife and daughter get all confused as to where I managed to get footage of them playing Monopoly, since I was with them at the time but did not have a camera or phone with me .

To get the pictures or video onto your PC or mobile drive, you unscrew the pen and stick it into a USB port, whereby the device will automatically save the still or video into one of two folders labeled 'pictures’ and ‘video' respectively.

Some call this product a pen-based digital video recorder (DVR), which although technically correct, is a fancy way to describe a simple product.

Many types of professions would find this device handy including journalists, doctors, psychologists, writers, parking rangers, teachers, couriers, lawyers and even police officers.

Oh, and for the record, it writes quite well too.

Pros: Can be used to write and record basically at the same time
Cons: The legal and privacy implications are a bit hazy to say the least

4 out of 5 Shacks