Hidden Video Cameras for Mystery Shoppers

When doing a video shop, a shopper can opt for many forms of cameras: button, pen and glasses to name a few. These cameras come in two forms: wired and wireless.

The older and more common form is the wired camera, in which the lens is hidden in a public object, such as a button or pen, and is attached by wires to the recording device, or DVR (Digital Video Recorder),concealed under one’s clothing.

A wireless camera transmits the video signal through the air to a receiver. The receiver is plugged into a DVR. The receiver and DVR can be hidden inside a briefcase or large bag, or can be left in one’s car outside. A newer version of the wireless camera, called the self-contained unit, combines the camera and DVR in one item. Some models of DVRs can also be turned into wireless versions with the addition of a wireless adaptor.

With wired operations, the DVR component is often attached to a belt worn around the waist, covered by a loose shirt. If the shape of the DVR can be seen under the shirt or if the wires become loose, the shop may be a loss. If one’s skin is sensitive, wearing a belt or simply wires next to it can also be irritating. The shopper needs to walk and stand a certain way to maintain wire stability yet have to look natural and at ease at the same time. Wireless does away with all of that.

On the other hand, many experts in the videotaping industry favor wired cameras. A representative from PalmVid, a security camera company that has sold equipment to several MSCs, said that shoppers need good audio quality for their shoots. A wireless camera is susceptible to interference from other wireless devices, such as cell phones and cordless phones, as these devices all share the same2.4Ghz frequency. (Self-contained units, or combined camera and DVR in one item, may run a smaller risk of this happening.) One videographer was also concerned about receivers and DVRs being transported in a bag or even as a wireless DVR in one’s pocket, saying that there was always a chance that these machines could be easily bumped, thus ruining the video.

Wireless cameras are still coming into their own, but a widely recognized industry standard for wired cameras is LawMate’s PV line. The PV500 DVR is the most commonly recognized model, with the PV700, 800, 900 and 1000 (along with advanced bells and whistles) following. Of the PV 500 line, a MSC video trainer cited two models: the PV 500 Lite 2 and the PV500EVO. She described the PV500 Lite 2 as a basic model and affordable. The PV500EVO had a little higher resolution and higher quality, but not required for an acceptable video.

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