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Top 5 Best Spy Pens

Updated On April 13, 2020

With the major size improvements that have made their way into photography and technology, spy pens are becoming widely available as a spy camera of choice as well as a recording device. You can find dozens and dozens of spy pens, with a wide range of designs, styles, forms, and functionalities. Which is why we have prepared this list of the top 5 best spy pens. This list is based on different factors that we found are necessary to take into account when searching for a spy pen. These specifications are even further discussed in the buyer’s guide that we provide after the list. Based on our analysis, we recommend the TCTEC Digital Voice Recorder Pen if you'd like something that is very discrete and simple to use.

Quick Summary: Top 5 - Best Spy Pens of 2020


Our professional editors pick and rate these products specifically for each category and recommend the best product we can. We may receive a commission from affiliated links.
Best Overall: TCTEC Digital Voice Recorder Pen
"Perfect spy gadget for your office. With voice detection, never miss out on anything!"
Best Value: Inspiratek Hidden Spy Camera Pen
"Record with Full HD resolution, and capture images in ULTRA HD"
Best Design: JZORI Hidden Camera Spy Pen
"Catch every moment in every occasion with it's functional design"
Best For Long Usage: JZORI Business Spy Camera
"Ready out of the box spy pen with 1920x1080p video recording"
Best Hidden: DZFTech Clip on Spy Camera
"Daily use pen with a slider covered lens that's a click away from recording"
Top 3 Quick Comparison
Product
Photo
Storage
Audio
Pros
Link
Best Overall
16GB
Yes
Long Battery Life
Runner Up
32GB Micro SD included
Yes
Hidden Indicator Light
Also Great
32GB
Yes
Easy File Retrieval
Our Reviews

Best Overall
Quick Specs
  • Water Resistance: No
  • Storage Capacity: 16 GB
  • Motion Detection: No
  • Night Vision: No
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Connectivity: USB Cable; Mac and Windows Compatible
This simple spy pen from TCTEC doubles as a voice recorder and mp3 audio player. Out of the box, you can get the sleek black and gold designed pen, a set of cables for charging and connection, a pair of headphones, speaker cables, and refillable ink tubes. Aside from recording and playing audio, you can actually use this spy pen to write. However, the pen tip is rounded and heavy, giving a hard feel when used to write.

The main function of the pen, which is its audio recording capability, is quite good. While you will definitely need to be careful not to cover the mic, which is situated at the base of the pen, it is able to record tons of audio in clear and crisp quality. When used to record lectures, meetings, and interviews, voices can be heard clearly with little noise. It has a built-in noise reduction feature which is proven to be quite effective.

This voice recorder pen does not require any additional memory cards. Instead, it has a built-in 16gb memory, which can store up to 260 hours worth of recorded files. On a full charge, the device is only able to record up to 15 hours. However, the voice activation mode makes it easy and energy saving since the recorder will only start recording when it hears a voice. This can be useful when you are on the go and just need it to capture bits of speech. However, the voice activated feature is not fully reliable and is sometimes unable to catch certain parts of the audio. In this case, a continuous recording mode can also be used. However, you would have to manually turn the pen on and off - which is actually still easy since the pen has a set of button for volume control and 1 power switch. 

An added feature to this spy pen is that it has a pair of headphones that you can connect to the device by twisting the middle portion open. This allows you to automatically play and listen to the recorded audio files directly without having to connect to a computer to check the files. Otherwise, you can also save songs and other audio into the pen and use it as a makeshift mp3 player. Connecting the pen to the computer is simple; you only need a typical USB cable.

Pros

  • Dual functioning as audio recorder and player
  • Also functions as a pen
  • Long Battery Life

Cons

  • No Video Recording
  • Bulky Pen Feel
User Reviews
“Quality sound recorder, discreet and compact pen. The directions and packaging were well organized upon arrival. Nice design.”
Best Value
Quick Specs
  • Water Resistance: No
  • Storage Capacity: 32GB Micro SD included
  • Motion Detection: No
  • Night Vision: No
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Battery Life: 150 minutes continuous recording
  • Connectivity: None
One of the noteworthy features of the Inspiratek spy pen is its sleek design, classic style, and comfortable feel. As a pen, it writes really well and provides crisp lines with the fountain pen head and black ink cartridges. The first use, however, will require a bit of pressure when pushing down to get the ink out of the cartridges. After that, it stands great as just a pen.

As a spy pen, the hidden camera is put into the pen clip portion, allowing users to clip the pen into their shirt collars and breast pockets to get a good view. Upon closer inspection, however, the lens is quite visible. However, it is well hidden from afar. The LED indicator lights are also set at the opposite side of the cap - out of view. The LED indicator lights don’t blink unless you start up or start recording. This helps keep the video recording discrete. 

On the other hand, it can take awhile to get used to the indicator light blinking signals. And if you are unable to catch the blinks, it is hard to tell whether the device is recording or not. The pen has a single button control, which you will need to press once to turn on to standby mode, press a second time to start recording. Unfortunately, it can turn off after 5 seconds if the storage capacity is full. An important thing to note is that 3 flashing red lights is the sign that the spy pen is successfully recording. A quick button press captures quick snapshots and saves these images directly to the memory card.

The pen captures videos at 1080p resolution and images at 2560 x 1440 resolution. While the quality is not comparable to modern smartphone cameras, it is still clear and shows a decent level of detail. Details such as written text or the facial features of people recorded at a distance are not clear. However,  it is still able to capture most scenes quite well. A decent amount of light exposure is necessary if you want to get the optimum level of detail on video recordings or images. Additionally, the spy pen is also able to record audio.

Pros

  • Elegant Pen Design
  • Hidden Indicator Light
  • Long Battery Life

Cons

  • Difficult To Identify if Recording
  • Low Camera Quality
User Reviews
“The spy pen camera works great!! So glad I bought it. The price was just right. The battery life is good. The picture quality and video is excellent. Very easy to carry around and use.”
Best Hidden
Quick Specs
  • Water Resistance: No
  • Storage Capacity: 16 GB Card included
  • Motion Detection: No
  • Night Vision: No
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Battery Life: 70m continuous recording
This hidden camera spy pen for JZORI features a classic design and high-tech spy functionalities. When used to record videos, the pen is able to capture high quality videos that are taken at 1080p resolution, at a rate of 30fps. Images, which are taken with the quick button press snapshot feature, are saved in 2560 x 1440 image formats. Video and image quality are quite good when compared to other spy pen cameras.

This device is also able to function solely as a voice recorder, which can be set with 3 quick presses on the power button. Audio recordings are saved as 30 minute clips. On that note, video recordings are saved in shorter 10 minute video files. The voice recordings are quite clear if the person is within a 3-5 meter range. However, the mic is easily muted if you clip the pen inside your collar or breast pocket. When recording audios, keeping the pen in hand and setting it closer to the audio source gets optimum sound quality.

You can also preset date and time stamps on videos and images. This is something you will need to setup manually with a computer. Connecting the device to a computer is quite easy. A USB cable is included in the package and by simply twisting the two sides of the pen in opposite directions, the USB slot becomes accessible. You can charge or access files through the USB cable. Another alternative is to take out the memory card and connect to the desktop with an adapter. 

Overall, the pen has a good build and also functions quite nicely as a regular pen for writing. The fountainhead tip gives it a classic feel and also makes writing with it quite nice. Aside from the USB cable, charging wire, and spy pen, the package also includes ink tubes.

Pros

  • Classic Pen Design
  • Easy File Retrieval
  • Long Battery Life

Cons

  • Difficult To Identify if Recording
User Reviews
“Love the fact that I was able to capture over an hour of footage while away from home. It worked out very well for me especially when placed with other pens&pencils on a desk/table/stand."
Best Disguise
Quick Specs
  • Water Resistance: No
  • Storage Capacity: 16 GB Card included / up to 32 GB
  • Motion Detection: Yes
  • Night Vision: No
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Battery Life: 1 hour continuous recording
This retractable ballpoint pen is a spy camera that has a built-in hidden camera set in the base cap. The pen is easy to use, with the simple one button control that functions as the power on/off button, snapshot capture, voice mode activation, and video recording button.

The device comes with a set of instructions on how to press the button to activate certain settings and what the LED indicator light blinks also mean. Since the device doesn’t have any labels or screens, the LED indicators will help you identify what the recorder is doing. Unfortunately, the LED lights do not stay on and only give off a few blinks to identify that it is starting recording, taking a snapshot, recording audio only, or turning off. Thus, it can be quite difficult to tell whether the device is functioning if you do not pay close attention to those lights. However, it is quite easy to get the hang of the instructions and get used to the single button controls.

The spy pen actually has different recording modes that you can take advantage of. First, the pen can continuously record videos, saving each video file in 10 minute long clips. In this mode, you only need to start and stop recording. Another mode is the motion detection mode, which relies on motion sensors integrated into the spy pen design. In this mode, the camera only starts recording when motion is detected. Videos are stored in 3 minute long clips and the device automatically stops recording when there is no longer any movement. The second recording mode is more energy efficient.

Another additional feature is voice recording, where the spy pen does not take any video recordings and only records audio. When recording videos, audio is already included in the recordings. The pen is able to catch audio quite well, with the only problem being the limited range. It is only able to capture nearby sounds and, unfortunately, does not offer any noise-reduction features. (1)

Audio and video recording, as well as image capture, on the pen is at a good quality. Videos are recorded at 1080p resolution, at a rate of 30fps. Images are also set in 2560 x 1440 resolution. Overall, the spy pen is a functional tool that works as a video recorder, audio recorder, and also as a typical ballpoint pen. The package also included a set of refillable ink tubes.

Pros

  • Functional Ballpoint Pen
  • Easy File Retrieval
  • Long Battery Life

Cons

  • Difficult To Identify if Recording

User Reviews

“Great spy device, with camouflage precision as well. Lens is very clear, and the audio is crisp as well.“

Best Recording
Quick Specs
  • Water Resistance: No
  • Storage Capacity: 16 GB Card included / up to 32 GB
  • Motion Detection: No
  • Night Vision: No
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Battery Life: 70m continuous recording
This Clip On Spy Pen Camera has a hidden camera that can literally be hidden away from plain sight. The clip on the pen can be slid up and down to hide or show the camera lens. Even with the slider down, the camera lens is very small and difficult to identify. However, it can still be seen when observed up close.

The camera on this spy pen captures great video and image quality, recording scenes at 1080p resolution. The lens has a 140 degree wide view, which is observable when you check the recorded videos and captured images. The camera is able to capture a lot despite its small size. Aside from recording videos, the spy pen also has a voice recorder functionality. (2)

Video, audio, and image files are saved directly to the memory card that can be inserted into the device. To access the memory card slot. As well as the USB connecting port, you have to twist the 2 parts of the pen towards opposing directions to open up the middle portion of the device. The lower end of the pen is where you can insert the refillable ink tubes that make the pen into a functional writing tool. The upper end of the device is where all the tech accessories are placed.

When files are stored, there is also no need to worry about not being able to save a new recordings. The pen has a cyclic recording feature which automatically overwrites the oldest audio or video files with newer recordings.

Pros

  • Hidden Camera Lens
  • Cyclic Recording Function
  • Easy To Control

Cons

  • Difficult To Identify if Recording
User Reviews
“This camera produces HD quality photos and videos. It is simple, easy to use, and undetectable as the informational lights are on the back of the pen. It really looks like just an ordinary pen.”


Things To Consider Before Buying a Spy Pen

Spy cameras are hidden devices that are either very small or disguised as everyday objects that incorporate a tiny camera capable of recording videos, capturing images, and make you feel like a secret agent tasked to save the world. One of the most iconic spy cameras is the spy pen, which has long been featured in various spy movies. A pen is a great item to camouflage as a camera; everyone uses it, and it doesn’t seem at all suspicious when you have one tucked into your breast pocket, giving the pen camera a great vantage point. 

Whether you’re at the office, in the classroom, or doing research in the field, spy pens are one of the best spy cameras that you can get in the market. Not only are these pens applicable for use in a wide array of environments, but they are also able to blend in seamlessly. Some of the best spy pens were listed above. However, there are many other options out there in the market. 

If you still haven’t found the right spy pen for yourself, this guide could help you identify a few major things to look for when buying this device. Before purchasing a spy pen, you have to first look into and weigh-in on certain factors. 


Storage


With a spy pen, you’ll be recording videos, capturing images, and also recording audio. All these files need to be stored securely and having a spy pen with a sufficient amount of storage can make sure that you have enough space for all your videos. It’s also recommended that your spy pen feature an external microSD storage which you can easily put in a low or high storage card. You should still be wary that some devices have storage limits. 

An additional storage feature to look for is cyclic recording. This is when the device automatically replaces older recordings with new files, giving users a seemingly infinite storage capacity. The only caveat to this type of programmed storage function is that older files have to be backed up if you do not want to lose them.



Battery Life 


When you’re in an office or in a classroom, there are chances that you’ll be spending long hours inside . Having a spy pen with a good battery life means that you’ll be able to take videos and record audio throughout the day. Moreover, this will also ensure that you’ll have a longer run-time for each video that you’ll record. Most spy pens record up to an hour of continuous videos. However, features like voice activation and motion detection can help conserve battery life by only recording when necessary.


Video Resolution 


Deciphering and recording information is one of the most important parts of having a spy camera. Having a camera with high resolution recording capability will provide clearer images. However, aside from just having high resolution videos and images, how the camera is able to take in light exposure, show contrasts, shadows, and other details can also affect the quality of the recordings. Additionally, audio recordings also make up some part of this criteria.


Ease of Use 


It would be quite counter-intuitive to have a spy pen that’s hard to operate. Spy pens should be easy to use. While you can’t expect to have a ton of controls or buttons on a single pen, the button commands should be easy to remember. One of the main problems with having a spy pen is the limited visibility you have. Since the pen has no screen or control panel, it can be difficult to identify what mode the device is on and even if it is already recording. Luckily, manufacturers have made use of simple LED indicator lights to give quick hidden cues. 

These are just a few of the specifications that you should take into consideration when picking out a spy pen. Most spy pens offer much of the same features. However, the slight variations in style and functionality fit into various purposes. Depending on where you plan to use your spy pen, there are certain models that are a better fit for your purpose than others.


References

(1) - Noise cancelling - https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/audio-music/noise-canceling-headphone3.htm
(2) - Field of view - https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/field-of-view-FOV

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About the author 

Angela Otero

Angela Otera is a spy camera professional that has been in the industry as a advisor for security and camera installations all around the Los Angeles Area. Over the years she has developed a unique technical expertise in the sector that allows he to write and give suggestions on services and security related issues. She enjoys hiking and spends her free time with her 2 children.


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