review

HD Mask iMiniCam Wifi Spy Camera AC Powered USB Wall Charger

Friday, January 04, 2019

Depending on its intended use, a camera hidden inside every day things is a very convenient way to keep watch secretly on things and people.
HD Mask spy camera measures 4.2cm long, 3cm wide and 3cm high
From spy pens and spy clocks to spy glasses and spy cameras hidden inside wall chargers and power adapters, anything can pretty much be turned into a spy cam.
Spy cameras can really come handy although the main problem with many spy cams has always  been the low image quality.
This is not the case with the HD Mask usb wall charger spy camera which has the design of a wall charger brick and a 75 degree wide angle lens inside it capable of 1080p video and 1080p image resolution.
With 1080p video recording (in AVI format) capability, you get Full High Definition (FHD) which means you can view the footage on a big TV screen thanks to more pixels across and down the screen (1920 pixels displayed horizontally across the screen and 1080 pixels displayed vertically down the screen).
While 1080p pixel resolution sounds good, pixel does not determine the quality of a camera. Quality of the lens, and mainly the size of the sensor and how fast the image processor works make the difference.
HD Mask spy camera uses a 1.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor and like most spy cameras the sensor is small with a slow image processor; hence the quality of the video and image of the HD Mask is lower compared to, say, the iPhone SE front camera which also has a 1.2 megapixel camera but because the iPhone SE has a better image sensor processor the quality of the image is better.
The image processor in the HD Mask spy camera seems to do a better job at processing video than image as can be judged from the video footage above. HD Mask does have a wide angle lens which for a spy camera is pretty useful for capturing a wider view of the focus area. HD Mask has 75 degrees field of view which is pretty good considering that the iPhone X wide angle lens only has  9 degrees field of view!
From a stealth perspective, the HD Mask blends perfectly with other USB wall chargers because it doesn't look out of the ordinary because of its charger brick design.
Even when looking at it closely, you wouldn't think there is a camera hidden inside it recording your every move. There is an led built-in to indicate status but you can turn it off from the app.
When plugged into a wall electrical socket or power socket extension, you can't see the micro SD card slot which supports up to 32GB of memory storage. 
The recording lens is located on the front, just above the standard USB port, which is a pass-through USB port so you don't loose a wall socket while the HD Mask spy camera is plugged in the socket.
Compared to other spy camera objects, the HD Mask spy camera has some advantages like constant power on-demand as HD Mask is an AC powered spy camera.
There are of course some disadvantages like placement. You can't place the HD Mask spy cam anywhere like you can with, say, a spy pen camera though with a bit of ingenuity you can solve that problem two ways. One way would by angling a power strip on a table or on the floor and blending it in with household stuff.
The other way to improve the placement of the HD Mask spy cam would be by using a long lead power adapter and cutting off the end connection to attach it to the AC pins of the spy camera. You would need to get a power adapter with the following rating 100-240V AC 50/60Hz 150mA which is how much input power the HD Mask camera needs to operate.
As far as performance, the HD Mask spy camera performs best somewhere with light either indirect light from a window, outdoor light or indoor light. Basically, the better the light the better the quality of the footage which is the same setup for any camera with a small sensor.
The HD Mask is not equipped with night time capabilities nor manual settings like a DSLR camera to be able to crank up the ISO, use a larger aperture and decrease the shutter speed for superb low light performance.
While HD Mask is not a photography video camera, it does feature Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) which is another feature you get with dash cams and it's basically clever software that balances the lighting in low light conditions. For the price and purpose, the HD Mask spy camera performs decently in a cloudy/overcast day or indoor house.
Saying this, HD Mask does come with a neat feature, called loop recording, which is the same feature you get with a dash cam car camera to prevent running out of recording space. It works basically by re-recording over previous recorded footage in a seamless manner without stitching up the recorded footage.
Even if you are using a small capacity 16GB memory card, the HD Mask spy camera can go on recording 24 hours, 7 days a week without requiring a new memory card, although using the maximum capacity micro SD card would make more sense.
Being a wireless spy camera that you can access remotely means is cool and even coolers is being able to add multiple users to grant them "monitoring" privileges to be able also to see the live feed from the spy camera. This is done via the companion mobile app, called iMiniCam, which is available for Android and iOS.
The HD Mask iMiniCam app also lets you sync multiple HD Mask spy cameras so you can really turn your house into a self-contained surveillance Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) system because HD Mask has a built-in microphone too, which performs better than you expect.
Being able to control the HD Mask spy cam from a mobile app is very convenient particularly since you can watch the spy cam live feed from your phone.
You also have the power to remotely take screenshots and stop and start recording the live feed whenever you want.
You can set it to all day recording, motion detection recording or time the recording between certain times.
Speaking of features, there is also a 6-meter range motion detection feature built-in to the HD Mask camera that you can enable or disable. When enabled, it automatically triggers recording and instant alert notifications to your phone.
You can manually set motion detection to trigger recording for x number of minutes, as well as set the sensitivity Motion detection is particularly useful in a portable device to conserve battery power and even though the HD Mask is mains powered having motion detection is neat because you can better manage what gets recorded and what doesn't to prevent over writing of the micro SD card when it gets full.
Another neat thing about the HD Mask Wifi spy camera is that if you use a Wifi-enabled micro SD card you can download the recorded footage through Wifi without ever having to physically take the micro SD card out of the camera.
As far as setting up HD Mask, it is straightforward after plugging HD Mask into an AC power socket. Setup steps are as follows:
1) Go to the Wifi settings of your phone and join the Wifi hotspot that your HD Mask spy camera generates.
2) Download the iMiniCam to your phone and open it
3) Select add new online camera or manually add new camera which brings up a QR code scanner to scan the QR code on the side of the HD Mask camera.
Once the camera is added, you will see "online" in blue writing. From there you can access all the camera settings so you can do things like reset the camera, reboot the camera and change the resolution from 1080p to 480p.
While watching the live feed, you can tap on the screen to bring up shortcuts to some settings such as brightness, contrast, low light mode, microphone mute/unmute, speaker mute/unmute, snapshot button, start/stop recording and "change screen orientation" to flip the image upside down and left to right.

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