So, you always wanted to be a spy? Me too, but I may be more a Jethro Bodine “Double Naught Spy” than James Bond “007″ type. That does not mean that I don’t want to use cool 007-type gear. One of the first things that I think about when spying is surveillance, and what better way to do surveillance than with a spy cam. Spy cams come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – some overly obvious, other not so much. The Recluse XT black box DVR from SleuthGear falls into that not so obvious category.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
You can find spy cams/DVRs on the market today in almost any shape or form – from wrist watches, lipsticks, and ink pens to teddy bears and eye glasses, but it would look kind of strange trying to use some of those objects to record with discreetly. Before I go on about secretly videotaping or recording people, let me give a warning. Some, if not most states, have some kind of laws pertaining to the secret recording and/or videotaping of individuals without their knowledge or consent, so please check your local laws before doing so. As I was saying, being able to discreetly videotape a situation can be difficult without the right equipment. The Recluse XT seems inconspicuous enough not to draw attention to itself even when it is out in plain sight
The Recluse XT comes with the following:
- Covert case
- AC adapter
- Video Cable
- USB cable
- MicroSD Card (16 GB) and adapter
- DC jack
As you can see, the Recluse XT itself is rather small in size, 1/4″ thick x 2″ wide x 3.8″ high, and weighs a little over 1 ounce. To me, it almost looks like a backup battery or even a portable WiFi device if you do not look at it closely. The Recluse XT has the following features:
- Video: MPEG4 640×480
- Max video recording time 16GB 16 hours 32GB 32 hours
- SD card memory up to 32GB
- Rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery, DC 3.7V 580 mAH
- External Power DC 5V 0.8A
- Battery Life Max 4 hours
- Time and Date Stamp
- Camera: .3MP with 70 degree angle
The top of the Recluse XT has a LED that turns red, green, or blue depending on the function. Red is charging, green is charged, and blue is recording.
The bottom of the Recluse XT has the indicator information for the switches and slots on the right side of the of it. You’ll find the model number and country information here. It also has a little bump-out under the lens to lift it slightly.
The front of the Recluse XT has the camera lens, the audio pick-up, and the reset hole.
The rear of the Recluse XT has a microUSB input for recharging the battery or for outputting the video or audio from the Recluse XT to another device. You can also remove the microSD card and use a SD card reader to view or remove the data from the device.
The right side of the Recluse XT has the on/off switch, the three position function switch (video record, motion record, and auxiliary),the microSD card slot, and the DC-charging jack. The left side of the Recluse XT has no functions or jacks; it is just smooth.
Now that we have all the technicals out of the way, let’s get to using the Recluse XT. The first thing I did when I got the device was to charge it. A nice feature on the Recluse XT is that you can charge it either using the USB-to-microUSB with a computer’s USB jack, from USB to DC, or from the included AC adapter via the microUSB or DC cable. After charging I inserted the microSD card included with the device. I was sent a 16GB card; the user’s guide does make mention of using a 32GB card, so I am assuming that would be the max. Setting up the camera to record video was simple. I just selected what mode I wanted (regular or motion) and placed the camera where I wanted to catch the action. While the Recluse XT is actually recording, the LED on the top of it will periodically blink blue. The Recluse XT will record in 10 minutes segments if you do not stop the recording before the 10 minutes elapses. After 10 minutes of constant recording, the Recluse XT will save the recording to a file and start recording a new video file. Audio files, if available on your device, will be recorded in 30 minute segments and stored. The Recluse XT comes with a case that can be used to disguise the Recluse XT, but it is discrete enough to be used without any disguise.
I am including a video clip taken from the Recluse XT so you can see the video quality (see end of the review). As you can see, it is not bad. Although it is not in an HD forma,t the video is good enough for general use, especially if you are using it to catch some wrongdoers. I will say that I have had varied video quality in terms of graininess, but overall it does a good enough job. I will also note that the blue flashing light is noticeable, but you can cover it with a piece of black tape to hide it.
Downloading and uploading the video is simple, and you can either store the video on your computer or directly upload it to a site like YouTube. I did not get the audio part of the recorder to work. It could just be me, or maybe this version of the device does not have audio; either way, it does save me from the possibility of breaking some laws.
So, what’s my bottom line? If you are in the market for a spy cam, the Recluse XT is not a bad choice. With all the included accessories, its size and weight, and its nondescript appearance, it is a good device for all your super spy needs. The fact that it does not have an HD format and has an average price of $225 may be a turn off for a lot of folks. Overall it works well.