Smartphones tiny integrated camera and mic can be used to gather important evidence recording things like police encounters or bullying at the workplace, the problem with using your phone for covert filming is that everybody knows it is a recording device and it defeats the element of surprise. This is why I bought the Flylink spywatch with a high definition 1920x1080P camera, made by a Chinese company called Flylink Tech. I have had this watch for four months and tested it out in multiple situations and different weather, outdoors and inside home.
The first thing that let me down from this spy watch when I unboxed it was that the time was not working. I bought the watch directly from the manufacturer at Amazon Marketplace and I am convinced that they would have replaced it for a new one if I had filled in a claim but I did not want to wait another two weeks for the watch to be shipped and I didn’t think that not having the correct time would be important, this turned out to be a mistake from my part. After a few days of using the spywatch I realised that there was a strong possibility of a person coming up to me and asking what time is it, responding that I am wearing a broken watch on my wrist will create suspicion, having said that, after two months of spywatch usage, mysteriously, the time started to work properly by magic, so it is all good now.
Since I mentioned that it took two weeks to receive this watch through the mail, you should know that I bought it at the Amazon Marketplace because, after extensive research it was by far the cheapest retailer I found, except if you live in the US where Newegg is selling the same watch for a reasonable price too. The watch manufacturer sends the package from abroad and informed me in advance that it would take at least a week, in my humble opinion, it isbetter than buying it from an online Chinese shop because you enjoy the guarantee of Amazon customer service if the package is broken or missing.
There are multiple Flylink spy watch designs, from classic, to sports, very few of them are female friendly, it is mostly men watches, before deciding which one to pick, it is best to plan in what environment you are going to use the spywatch. If you attend a business meeting with a bulky sports watch it will look out of place. Myself I decided to buy the sports model because it is a near replica of a Casio G-Shock, labelled G-Shook, and even thought it is bulky, most sport watches are.
One small mistake I made was to buy the 8GB (7.4GB when formatted) version instead of the 16GB, the price difference was only €5, I just though that since the battery only lasts for an hour, 8GB was enough, the 8GB spywatch holds exactly one hour of video, my surprise was that there was battery left after one hour of filming, if it was now, I would buy the 16GB version for longer recording.
The Flylink spy watch is advertised as water proof, the meaning is that if you splash water or it rains, it will be fine, but you can not submerge the watch or shower with it. I have tried this watch under the rain and I had no problems but you can tell from the build quality that not everything is tightly sealed. The watch strap and the glass feel cheap, easy to wear out, treat the watch with care to avoid scratching the glass and don’t bang it around like a real sports watch, overall build quality is on the fragile side.
About the camera, I was initially sceptical of the video quality and battery life such a tiny device could provide, it turned out to be unfounded, for a needle head camera, the quality is amazing, you can’t see the lens even if you look close at the watch, is very well concealed inside the dial markers. The videos are automatically split in 2GB chunks that hold 20 minutes each, this is a good thing, small files are easier to manage. What did not work very well was the infra-red night vision, it works, but not very clear and you have to be very very close to the target.
A positive point for Flylink camera watch is that it comes with a replacement knob button that is often removed to plug in the USB cable and transfer the video to a computer. Out of the two knob buttons, one of them has hole in it, this is the one you want to use to record voice, if voice recording is unimportant to you, swap that knob by the one without a hole to stop sand or water leaking inside the watch.
Important considerations when filming with the Flylink spywatch, maximum distance in between you and the target has to be kept at around six meters, if you intend to use this watch to film people from far away, don’t buy it. I have tried doing this and the faces will not be visible, this watch has been designed for filming from a very close distance, and, on top of that, it is very hard to focus the camera watch on the correct target if you are too far from him or her.
What is entirely unacceptable of this watch is the small booklet with the operating instructions in English and Chinese, the company must have used an online translator for the English text because it can’t hardly be understood, many of the paragraphs don’t make any sense at all. I managed to operate Flylink in little time because I had owned a similar spywatch a couple of years ago, otherwise I am not sure a novice can do it with just the manual, this is why I am going to write the instructions to operate the Flylink camera watch here:
To start filming, hold the A button for 2 seconds, you will see a blue LED light is displayed, hold that button until the blue light flashes four times before it disappears, the spywatch is now be recording. To stop the video, click and hold the same button After one second, you will see a red light flashing a couple times before going off, the video recording has now stopped, if you don’t stop the video recording, the watch will carry on filming until it runs out of file space or battery, you should get at least an hour of footage until that happens.
If your flash memory is full, when you click and hold the recording button A on your watch, instead of a blue light, you will see a red one, this means that no filming is possible because storage is full.
I would forget about all of the other buttons on the watch, night recording is very low quality, and taking photos is nearly impossible to do without people looking at you for awkwardly pointing the watch at them and holding a button, it gives away that it could be a camera. Just remember button A to start and stop filming and nothing else is needed. When outdoors, bear in mind that you will be unable to see the flashing LED lights under the Sun, start he recording button under the shadow of a tree or place your hand on top of the LED light.
To recharge the spywatch battery, you can use your computer USB port or a the mains adaptor that comes inside the package. It takes around an hour to fully charge the spywatch, you will know that the phone is charging when the LED light is blue and fully charged when it turns red.
To transfer the videos to your computer, just plug in the watch to your computer, the watch comes with drivers but my Windows 7 automatically detected it with a message saying that Syntec MSDC USB device is ready to use, it will appear only once. You can then access the watch like any USB thumbdrive, the videos are stored inside a folder named 100MEDIA, they can be move to your computer copying and pasting.
The only problem I have when I plug in the spywatch in my computer is that every single time Windows tells me that I need to scan the drive, do not accept it, click on ignore. Something else about the watch, the internal memory contains a _REC.exe program to change the timestamp of the video recordings, this file was flagged a threat by Avast antivirus, not only that, I could not change the date and time of the videos with it.
Here goes another advice, when you have finished transferring the videos to your computer, do not unplug the spy watch from the USB port until you first right click on the device icon in Windows and select “eject the USB camera“, if you don’t do this step, you can have driver problems the next time you try to use the watch. The latest computers will have USB3 and the watch is USB2, it works the same except that video transfers are slow, thats something I can live with, you can browse the Internet while the videos are being moved from the watch to the computer.
I only evaluated the filming, I didn’t think that taking covert photos with this watch can be done, holding the spywatch on the target’s face puts you on the spotlight, people are not that stupid. And by the way, if you want to securely erase the files in the watch after moving them, fill in the watch memory with random music files until it is full so that it will overwrite past recordings.
Overall, a great hidden camera that is only good to record from a very close distance, which, opens the possibility of awakening your target suspicions about the bulkiness of the watch and you playing around with the buttons. I don’t regret buying it, I love the long battery and the high definition, but the situations in which it can be used are limited, it is not that often you can get close to the target.