First, I feel I should provide a nanny camera definition, a video-only device with a camera, and a recorder built into functioning or non-functioning items, such as a clock, AC adapter, or the one that everyone knows a teddy bear.
People generally use them to catch maintenance workers coming into the apartment unannounced, monitor how the nanny takes care of their children, document employee theft, or have a camera for security purposes when a full hard-wired CCTV system is not possible.
I've been in the spy and security industry for over 15 years, and I've seen many advancements in the field of covert surveillance. Back in the day, people with a need to covertly capture video of suspected child abuse, drug abuse, infidelity, or theft did still have many options of different models of nanny cameras, but there was a limitation present in all of them: you had to run a cable from your hidden camera to a VCR to record video footage and were limited by the size of the VHS tapes, 4, 8, 24 & 48 hours.
You would have stacks of VHS tapes, or you would reuse tapes and re-record over them, and VHS was not the best format to keep writing over as it would cause degradation of the video playback as you continuously recorded over old footage. In those days, this just compounded the issues because cameras were only outputting 420TV lines of resolution.
One of the biggest requests we would get was the ability to remote view into a property and keep an eye on things while at work or on vacation. There was just no viable solution for this back then, as internet speeds were too slow (dial-up), so the best you could do for live viewing was plug a TV into the VCR, sit in front of it, and watch the screen all day.
So much has changed since those days. Many new nanny cameras record to a micro SD card that goes into the camera itself so no more running wires back to anything! High-resolution recordings are now available like 720P and 1080P. With the invention of larger memory cards with sizes like 64GB, 128GB, and higher, you can record for weeks at a time especially using motion-activated recording.
Now keep in mind if there is a lot of motion in an area, you will record more footage because the device is triggering on movement (pixilation changes), therefore using up more of your storage capacity quicker. Many DVRs now allow for loop recording, meaning they will erase and overwrite the oldest videos first, capturing new footage. Other modern hidden cameras allow you to stop recording once the memory is full. This may be useful when you need to continuously record and monitor a particular situation for certain hours every day but won't need anything after that point.
Some other great features that have come out over the past 15 years for hidden cameras are that they can be set up to record upon motion or continuously. Video files are date and time stamped so you know when an incident occurred, and the best part is you can pop out the SD card and put a new one in, allowing you time to review your video footage on your laptop or desktop computer. No more stacks of VHS tapes and no more degraded video; just a simple rinse and repeat process of deleting what you don't need and pop your card back in when needed.
Probably my favorite upgrade is that modern-day nanny cameras have the ability to be remotely seen using the WIFI signal of your home or office, so a smartphone or tablet can log in to see what's happening in real-time, even if you're halfway around the world. This feature is great, as not only can you log in and see live what is happening, but as long as you have an SD card in the nanny camera, you will also be able to playback footage from days prior. Some cameras even allow you to download incidents remotely to your phones' memory which you can then offload to a computer with a USB data cable.
Having this backup is essential for those that are always at work or always on the road, as you sometimes can never know when an incident will occur. Below I have included some of my personal favorite nanny cameras and hidden cameras!
See our best hidden nanny cams, below:
The Zetta Max IR hidden record spy cam packs an unbelievable number of features while still super user-friendly. This easy-to-use camera turns on with a simple touch of the power button and can be put into sleep mode the same way. Another simple button allows you to change between recording modes as needed.
This camera’s sleep mode feature is a fantastic asset. It enables the standard 12 hours of continuous battery life to be stretched for up to 180 days of battery life, which, frankly, is unheard of with other similar camera models! In other words, the camera remains in a low-power sleep mode and will only start recording when motion is detected in its field of view.
Given the battery and sleep mode feature, this camera is ideal for low-traffic, long-term usage. Whether you need to record a stock room or safe, or you need to keep an eye on the little one, the fantastic 720p HD quality and 30 frames per second recording capability of this camera will give you peace of mind at all times. Moreover, the camera has enhanced infrared recording in low-lighting situations. Insert an SD card to store all footage, which you can later remove so you can easily review your footage by plugging it into a laptop or smart device.
The WIFI Zetta Max Hidden spy video camera combines all the other cameras' fantastic features with the added perk of Wi-Fi connectivity. This WIFI connectivity is a game-changer as it allows you to watch live video remotely on your smartphone. Additionally, the built-in Wi-Fi is easy to set up using the free Attez 2.0 application. You download the app, insert a memory card, and connect to your device’s Wi-Fi. This makes it perfect when you want to check in on a continuous recording such as an elderly caretaker service or a nanny watching your children.
The video quality is stunning and has a wide 160-degree field of vision that plays in 720p HD quality. While the camera does not have infrared like some other similar devices, it’s perfect for daytime recording and manages to be very covert due to its small size and easy placement.
The internal battery can last 8 hours without being plugged in. However, this shorter battery life isn’t too concerning, given that if you plug the camera into a power source, you can continue recording continuously as long as you have the storage space available. The video can be played back on Windows or Mac using a 64GB SD card, but don’t forget: you can also easily watch your videos on your smartphone when connected to WIFI. In the end, this camera is ideal for someone that wants continuous recording, given that you can set up scheduled recording time slots.
The Zetta Max hidden security camera-swivel truly offers one of the best fields of vision on the market in terms of security cameras. The 180-degree vertical range of motion for the camera on the mount, coupled with the 160-degree field of view, makes the video unbeatable.
The wide filming width is supplemented with an outstanding camera quality of 720p HD with 30 frames per second. Press and hold the button to turn the camera on and select the mode you’d like to use to begin recording the high-quality footage you want and need. The camera has a lengthy ten-hour battery life and can be used in unlimited amounts when plugged into the wall to charge. The various modes demand differing battery usage, but when vibration-activated recording is in use, the camera battery can last up to 90 days!
When you’re ready to watch your footage, plug the cable into your Mac or Windows device. Then, straightforward software allows you to view your videos easily. All of these fantastic features are packed into one of the smallest and discreet cameras on the market, which allows you to capture footage when and where you need it.
The USB Wall Adapter Hidden Video Recorder is an ideal nanny cam that is one of the most discrete we sell. This tiny device manages to pack in a ton of great features captured with its 1080p resolution and recording ability of 30 frames per second. The model can support up to a 32GB Micro SD card, which can then be used to watch back, analyze, and even timestamp your recordings using a Windows or Mac computer. Let's not forget the best part about this device: it really functions as a powered USB port, so if someone was to plug into this clever little hidden camera to charge their phone or tablet, it will!
Make sure to take note that this device is not compatible with a USBC. However, this can be easily fixed by purchasing an adapter for your computer or merely inserting the Micro SD card to watch the recordings with a free software program. This is an excellent and inexpensive choice for recording video for anyone who wants continuous or motion-activated recordings.
This WIFI 1080P Mini Clock camera is another one of the most cleverly concealed models on the market. This camera itself is disguised as a fully functional alarm clock. Some other key features of this tiny hidden camera are it also displays the date, temperature, and humidity in the room it is stationed below the display. Making it perfect for homes and businesses alike.
Moreover, the device is WIFI equipped, which allows you to live stream video using your phone. The recorder also can support a micro SD card up to 128GB and works with your Windows or Mac computer to watch the recordings.
The footage is shot in 1080p at 30 frames per second. The device does date and time stamp all recordings to make for easier reviewing and tracking of your footage. Additionally, it offers a loop recording feature that automatically deletes only the oldest data to allow the camera to capture non-stop footage. This hidden camera can also record on motion or continuously if needed.