About Charge Cam
Although Charge Cam looks and functions just like a regular USB charging cube for devices like smartphones and tablets, it also promises to conceal the latest in micro-surveillance technology, allowing you to capture up to eight hours of high-definition video and high-gain, crystal clear audio.
The website indicates you simply have to plug it into any outlet in your home, and its motion-activated camera will start recording. Then, when it’s time for playback, just connect it to any PC or laptop and download accordingly.
This all sounds compelling, but does Charge Cam really represent a cost-effective surveillance system, as claimed on the website? Even then, are there competitors that might deliver more bang for the buck? Let’s start with price and build from there.
How Much Does Charge Cam Cost?
One Charge Cam video cube is priced at $39.99, plus free shipping. You’ll be able to purchase a second unit during checkout for an additional $7.95 fee.
Regardless of the number you purchase, all orders come with 90-day refund policy and a lifetime guarantee, less S&H and any fees associated with the second unit. In order to request one, the company can be reached at 866-274-2797.
What Do We Know About Charge Cam’s Manufacturer?
E. Mishan & Sons (EMSON, Inc) is a large As Seen on TV company who’s been in business since 1946. In that time, they’ve released hundreds of popular products, including recent hits like Car Cane, Gotham Steel Pans, Big Boss Insta Mop, and XHOSE.
The company held an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, based on seven negative reviews and 89 closed complaints, as of 12/13/17. Most of these appeared to reference ordering problems, customer service issues (frequently related to difficulties obtaining a refund), and lower quality than expected. In most of these instances, a company representative responded with a solution.
Charge Cam vs. the Competition: How to Choose a Charge Cube Security Camera
Searching online for variations of terms like ‘charge cube camera,’ ‘spy phone charger,’ ‘wireless smartphone charger camera,’ and ‘mini USB charger security camera’ returned several results in the same market as Charge Cam.
In fact, we encountered more than one option that seemed identical (we didn’t test any units to provide firsthand feedback), from both functionality and design perspectives, to the device in question. This included recharging capabilities, HD video, high-quality audio, automatic recording, the ability to play back video through a PC or laptop, and enough internal memory for hours of recording.
The biggest difference? Price—some of the competition cost $100 or more. But does this necessarily mean that Charge Cam’s price will provide you with the quality you expect? Let’s compare its features and round it out with some professional advice.
Surveillance System Basics: What to Look For When Buying
First, Recombu tells us that high-definition video “refers to the detail level of a screen; or to put it another way, the number of pixels that are packed into a display. A pixel is the smallest visible element on a display, the ‘dots’ that combine to make up the overall picture.”
The number of pixels, or dots, on a screen is most often referenced in numbers like 720p (1280 pixels wide x 720 pixels tall), or 1080p (1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels tall). And as you might imagine, the greater number of pixels present, the greater detail the image delivers. In this instance, which of these is better?
According to tech evangelist Marc Saltzman, you’ll typically want to buy surveillance cameras with the highest resolution possible, so that you’ll achieve the most vivid color images possible during the day. Unfortunately, the product’s customer service number wasn’t active at the time of our research, so we weren’t able to verify Charge Cam’s resolution.
Next, when researching different home surveillance system options, Marc notes that additional “key necessities” are good night vision and motion detection. Other things he notes that you should consider:
- Remote Access – If you’d like to keep an eye on your family and your property while you’re away, such as through an app on a smartphone or tablet.
- Video Capture – Do you need to archive the video captured through your surveillance system, such as through a hard drive? This would allow you to access any previously recorded video at any time.
- Memory Expansion – Similarly, could you foresee needing additional recording time, and therefore available memory? If so, is the surveillance camera you’re considering upgradable, whether through an SD card or a full-blown DVR system?
Additional considerations include if you require the ability to zoom the camera in or out/pan/tilt, email notifications if the camera is triggered, for all the cameras in your system to be linked (usually via hard-wiring or Wi-Fi), and if you need indoor-outdoor monitoring.
How does all of this work out for Charge Cam? Let’s bring everything we’ve learned together and come to a bottom line.
Our Final Thoughts About Charge Cam
Although Charge Cam’s customer service line wasn’t active at the time of our research, we learned from its website and commercial that it seems to come with several essential features, including high-definition audio and video, automatic recording with motion detection, playback on any computer, and up to eight hours of recording time.
On top of this, it was the least expensive charging cube camera we encountered.
However, based on what we learned from tech evangelist Marc Saltzman earlier, we’re still left with a lot of important unanswered questions about the device. For example:
- Does it have night vision capabilities?
- What’s its resolution; 720p or 1080p?
- Once activated, how long does the camera continue recording until it automatically shuts off?
- What happens when it runs out of hard drive space? Will it loop and start recording over earlier material?
To this last point, what happens if your home is robbed (for example) right after you leave for work in the morning, but you don’t find out until you return home later that evening? Even if Charge Cam caught the whole incident on video, would it have already recorded over the evidence?
Furthermore, while the manufacturer notes that the device’s motion detection can help maximize recording time, what if it’s located in a busy room, such as the kitchen or your living room? Would it constantly turn on throughout the day and potentially record over any valuable video?
Additionally, if you’re looking for an in-depth surveillance solution, Charge Cam might be limited by the fact that its video can’t be viewed externally, such as through an app, and it won’t send you notifications once activated.
Given all of these details, we might imagine a USB cube security camera like Charge Cam could work as a basic, bare-bones method of keeping an eye on your home, or as a supplementary measure added to your existing surveillance system.
For example, it might be ideal in areas that you might not want to spend a lot of time and money monitoring, such as a small tool shed or shop, or areas that might otherwise be missed by a full-blown system, such as corners, parts of the home infrequently accessed, and so forth.
But, based on its limited advertised functionality and the fact that we weren’t able to learn more from customer support, we think it’s important to maintain realistic expectations when it comes to the manufacturer’s claim that Charge Cam represents a cost-effective surveillance system.
In the end, though, EMSON is a company with a mostly positive online customer reputation who stands behind the product with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee if you’re willing to spend time giving it a try. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to send it back if you’re dissatisfied with its surveillance capabilities.