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Covert Black Economy

Quality Button Camera with Digital MP4 Recorder

Eye Spy's Covert Black system reviewed in issue 43 is ideal for the
professional, but didnıt necessarily meet the needs of all our readers, some who wanted a system slightly more affordable. Thatıs not always easy, but thanks to the efforts of colleagues who spent weeks looking for the 'perfect combination set', we believe we have found something quite special. Less money occasionally equates to inferior quality, but this is really not the case with Covert Black Economy - a system that still provides quality colour film footage and audio. As with the more expensive set, this button camera recorder comes complete with a quality display, has audio capability and, it's easy to use. There is one main difference - the price.


The quality of the camera is outstanding for the price with sharp 380 horizontal TV lines that performs well in low light and works in either PAL or NTSC formats. Its small size makes it the perfect


combination for body worn applications. Like Covert Black, the unit requires no additional power source as the camera and audio is powered directly from the MP4 device.

The camera is lightweight and low in profile. And because it is a modular
camera, it can be used beyond just shirt placements, such as in a purse,
backpack, tie, hat etc. Of added advantage, it has just one tough, but very slender lead that plugs directly into the recorder.


Nevertheless, we still recommend it should be worn in the sternum area. Many surveillance operatives wrongly assume that a hat or eyeglass camera provides the best viewpoint.

While a head mount does allow the user added movement of the camera, we have seen results that include too much sky and ceilings in the top half of the frame and can be jerky or blurred in replay. Additionally, it is more difficult to hide the wire from the head to the recorder. The camera's 80 degree field of vision is more than adequate. Correctly fastened in the button hole it is totally invisible.


The DVR is small enough to fit into a standard sized cigarette case and has a built-in screen to check the footage as it is being collected. It also comes with a set of high quality earphones to monitor the audio during playback and can be used as a standard MP4 player for music as well. It has an excellent time display allowing frames or footage to be accurately detailed. The unit has 512 MB internal memory that will hold approximately 4 hours of video, but with an optional 1GB SD card, you can record an additional 8 hours.

Playback is as simple as plugging the supplied USB cable into a computer. The computer automatically finds and detects the camera and files can be accessed like it was an external hard drive. Files can be played back with any media player such as Windows Media Player or Real Player.

Summary: Besides being easy to use, concealment and high-quality image and audio, this set is simple and user friendly. The camera is sensational and is matched by the DVR. Uploading the footage takes seconds, and more importantly, programmes are available that will compress large files allowing the user to store hours of film on a single CD. In terms of performance and quality, the set is fantastic value.

Difference between Covert Black and the Economy Set

The economy set comes with just one set of matching buttons in dark blue whereas the Covert Black comes with four sets of interchangeable buttons and screws (the screw heads allows concealment in wall panels, for example. The Covert Black set has slightly better image quality - 450 horizontal lines against 380. You can use a 4GB SD card with Covert Black, though it only takes a few seconds to insert an empty card.

One advantage the economy set does have is it comes in a superb hard sided carry case. 

As with other systems, Covert Black Economy is not rainproof so care must be taken when operating outdoors. It's not too difficult to make protective housings. It took our operative about two minutes to assemble and wear.

Video signal system: PAL/NTSC
Photo-image sensor: 1/3 CMOS COLOUR
Low Illumination: 2.0lux
Horizontal Resolution: 380TV Lines
S/N ratio: Min.48dB
Video output: 1.0-/75ohms
Backlight: Auto
Operating Temp: -10/+50
Power Supply: DC 8V
Lens: 3.6 mm

MP4 Player Specifications:

Supports multi-language display

supports WMA/WAV/ADPCM/PCM audio format

Standard USB2.0 interface

built-in SD/MMC card slot, 512MB memory flash

Support folder management function and view function
Supports ASF format, ADPCM stereo sound, or convert to ASF format by transfer tools

JPEG format
Set up function: time / calendar, language, game, storage/check memory, game/auto power off

2.5" TFT OLED 260K colour 16k, pixels support: TV OUT /IN

Built-in Mic / speaker

Built-in 2300 lithium battery

Built-in Microphone

Video form: ASF shade is broadcast: 6 hours

Picture browsing: support EXIF2.1

Power Supply: 3.7V lithium battery

Playing time: 8 hours

Dimensions: 60(H)*90(W)*17.5(D)mm

Order Code: CBE-LE



United Kingdom






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