What is a USB Spy Camera?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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A USB spy camera is a type of spy camera that can be connected to a computer or similar device through a universal serial bus (USB) port connection. These cameras can use different methods of connection, often either a direct connection or through a USB cable, and can come in many different sizes and forms. This type of camera can potentially have internal memory storage that allows it to record images for later uploading to a computer, or may connect while in use to upload while recording. A USB spy camera can be a stationary camera, such as one that is set up for surveillance, or more portable cameras that can be concealed on a person.

The way in which a USB spy camera connects to a computer or similar device will usually depend on how the camera is meant to be used. Cameras that have internal data storage, such as a digital video recorder (DVR) spy camera, will usually be able to connect by plugging the camera directly into the USB port on a computer. Many of these cameras are only slightly larger than a USB memory stick or “thumb drive” and connect in a similar way. Other cameras, especially a USB spy camera that does not have internal memory, will connect to a computer through a USB cable.


This allows a USB spy camera to be plugged into the computer while the camera is in use, which is important for cameras that do not have internal memory. Those cameras that do have internal memory can usually be placed and set to record for a time, then removed and connected to a computer to upload the images. Cameras without internal memory typically feed a live stream of images to a computer through a USB connection, and the computer can then be used to view and record the images. This type of USB spy camera is especially useful for home security or general surveillance.

A USB spy camera designed for surveillance will often be designed for placement that is out of reach and view of a potential intruder. Outdoor cameras will often be wireless, however, for easier placement and use. An indoor USB spy camera can be used for home surveillance, and may be placed near enough to connect to a computer without being overly apparent. This type of spy camera is often designed to look like something else, and may be concealed as part of a clock, toy, or any other desktop object. More portable USB spy cameras often utilize internal memory systems and can be disguised as pens, key chains, and similar objects.


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Post 3

@bear78-- Unfortunately, the video quality of most USB spy cameras are very poor. And since most are made and shipped from overseas, they have very poor instructions, usually translated incorrectly from Chinese. So it takes a long time to figure out how to use the product and the output is not very good. But then again, at the prices that these gadgets are sold, one cannot expect much more.

Post 2

@bear78-- The length of recording time for a spy camera depends on how much memory is available. If the spy camera is attached to a computer and using the computer's memory, it can record for a very long time. But if it has a built-in memory card, then it can only record as far as its memory allows. I have one with 4GB built in memory. I haven't recorded anything long enough to test its capacity but I have recorded for half an hour without problems. If the spy camera also takes pictures, then you might want to consider that as well.

The video quality for mine is 720*480. You certainly don't want anything less than that. And before actually recording, do a couple of test recordings to see how wide the screen is and what the quality is like.

Post 1

I want to get a USB spy camera. My main concerns are recording time and video quality. For how long can a USB spy camera record things usually? And is the video quality good enough?

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