There's not a lot that's particularly remarkable about the MD80 mini spy camera - it's pretty tiny, it records reasonable 640x480 video in AVI format at 25 frames per second, and it can be set to standby for up to 250 hours until it's activated by a sound, making it a good little spy cam unit. It's pretty similar to any number of helmet cam/mini video cam units but for one fact - it costs less than US$25 on eBay, delivered to your door. For the price it's an outstanding product and the sort of thing you could habitually carry around in your car, recording driving conditions for an instant evidence stockpile in case of an accident or incident. And more broadly it's an example of how Chinese design and manufacturing can get a competitive, quality product to market at a price point that absolutely annihilates the competition, to the point where if you're still concerned about quality, you might just as well buy five of the things in case four break. Which they're not doing nearly so much these days.
Have a look at this footage:
Not bad at all, is it? That's a crunched YouTube version of the output from the MD80 mini spy cam, less than US$25 delivered, Chinese built and from all accounts, a quality product.
Go and read the specs if you want to - they're nothing particularly special. It's a simple USB spycam that's about the size of your thumb, and because of its size you can mount it just about anywhere. In the case of the clip above, that's on a motorcycle helmet, but there's plenty of other videos showing it mounted in cars, on a neck chain, or just being hand held to capture whatever the holder sees as he/she walks around the place.
You can set it up in a room on audio-activated standby mode, where it will happily sit for nearly two weeks on a single battery charge, waiting for a noise to start it recording. It uses microSD, which means you can store up to 16GB of footage on it, and it plugs into your computer via USB (which also charges it) to let you transfer files.
And it's less than 25 bucks. Delivered. Gizmag's VIO POV 1.5 system, the one we used to film bits of this is clearly superior, but it cost nearly 30 times as much. 25 bucks is absolute peanuts for a video camera. Anyone can afford that.
Which means anyone could have one. Anyone could have five of the things. With decent-quality video recording gear so cheap, we really are moving towards a world where just about everything you do will be caught on one camera or another. Great for the Funniest Home Video Show, fantastic if somebody merges into your car, then claims it was your fault... But a bit on the nose for privacy advocates.
You can grab the MD80 for next to nix on eBay. I reckon I might, too.