For a little while, I've been lusting after the Immortal Video Glasses. Sunglasses with a built in video camera - perfect for recording all my action/adventure exploits!
But, at £300, I thought they were a bit out of my price range. Undoubtedly fun, yes, but not 100-pints-of-beer fun (or however you choose to measure your fun).
I wondered if anyone was selling them second-hand on eBay. They weren't. But there were a whole load of clones. "Spy Sunglasses DVR" and the like. Some were technically very impressive - bluetooth, mp3 players, fm radios - all built in.
I went for the cheapest pair I could find. 1280*960 video resolution (actually 640*480 - more on that later), no built in memory, and shipped from Hong Kong.
Total cost? £16.50. A damned site cheaper than the Immortal glasses - but would they be any good? After two weeks on a slow boat from the East, they finally arrived...
So, how well do they work?
Walking down Brick Lane in the dark
The video glasses I purchased said that they recorded at 1280*960 - in fact, they're only half that at 640*480. The seller has agreed a partial refund. I'm not convinced that the 1280 version would be any more than interpolated upwards.
The resolution of the pics is 3264*2448. Click the pictures for full size.
The Specs (geddit?)
- Weight: 52g
- Battery:5V DC 450mAh
- Recharging Time: 3-6 hours
- Continuous working Time: 2-3 hours
- Picture Resolution: The rather odd 3264*2448.
- Video details (based on usage, not manufacturer's details)
- Video 640*480
- Audio is driven by a mono microphone on the left side.
- Mplayer says: VIDEO: [MJPG] 640x480 24bpp 29.710 fps 5479.8 kbps (668.9 kbyte/s)
- Mplayer says: AUDIO: 24000 Hz, 1 ch, u8, 192.0 kbit/100.00%
Once plugged in to USB, the camera just shows up as a USB mass storage drive. No software needed. Works perfectly on Linux.
05e1:0b02 Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd
The Down Side
Look, it's a piece of sweatshop produced plastic. Don't expect the world, ok? That said, there are a few minor niggles.
- Mini USB rather than Micro USB. All of my gadgets use the new standard - I have plenty of mini cables, but it's a pain that this doesn't support the new standard.
- Limited to 8GB MicroSD card. To be fair, that's ~2 hours of recording time - which is what the battery is rated at.
- The lenses of the sunglasses seem to be smoked glass and don't offer any real UV protection.
- The lenses are meant to be removable (I've got a clear pair of lenses coming) but I can't find any way to remove them.
- Glasses are lightweight but feel quite fragile.
- Glasses are a little tight for my big head.
- The mono microphone picks up what the wearer is saying reasonably well - but other sounds can be quite muffled. I think this is because the mic is pointing downwards.
All that said, I'm reasonably impressed with them.
Setting The Time
One of the problems with buying cheap tat from China is that the instructions are... obtuse. As you can see in the above videos and pictures, I managed to screw up the time initially.
To set the time correctly, create a file called "time.txt" in the root directory. Open it up in your favourite text editor and type the time using this format.
2010.11.05 13.45.30 Y
That's "YYYY.MM.DD HH.MM.SS" The "Y" at the end tells the camera to place a timestamp on every video and picture. If you don't want a timestamp, write it as
2010.11.05 13.45.30 N
Once the file is saved and the camera turned on, the time will be set and the file automatically deleted.
Comparing the video to the hyper-expensive Looxcie
And the Immortal
I think this generic set holds up very well.
Under twenty quid? Bargain! It certainly falls in to the "good enough" category.