Cam Study – Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

Cam Study – Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

A lot of people have been asking me advice on the various micro DV cameras that I’ve been using on the bike for the last 6 months.  A lot more people will probably be bored to death reading this, so if you’re one you should stop about now.

First off I have to say, as someone who was employed as a Covert Surveillance Specialist around five years ago, these micro DV cams are just mindblowing!  OK, so there is far better kit out there, but the main point is in terms of bang for your buck, the professional kit is very expensive, and these cost around twenty times less and the rest.  For filming stuff to upload to YouTube you just can’t beat these cheap little unreliable buggers from Ebay!

I originally bought mine for filming my trackday sessions.  After testing them out during daily road riding, I’ve found very quick and easy mounting methods that mean I’d be stupid not to use a camera on every journey I make.

As a biker I get to experience some very weird stuff on the roads, and some very close calls.  So far I’ve captured quite a few on these cameras, and there will be more to come.  Something worth remembering if you’re doing this is that if Mr Policeman sees your footage he may well try to use it against you in a court of Law.  Once you get over the initial “I have a camera on so must show off!” phase, this can work to the opposite extreme of helping your case in the event of an accident.

You can watch all my videos made with all the cams on YouTube here.

Now down to the stuff you want to know:

Keychain Spycam

Price: Under £10 delivered (Micro SD card required for #2 and #3 cameras)
Battery life: approx. 1 hour
Memory: 8GB internal on the #1 cams.  15 mins footage took approx 300MB.
8GB removable Micro SD card on the #3 (not included).  15 mins footage took approx 800MB.

I bought four of these in all – two of the #1 and two of the #3 type.  For in-depth tech specs and how to tell the difference click this link.
My favourite was the first #1 cam which filmed with the buttons pointing to the side, meaning I could slide it between the cheek padding of my helmet and it was ready to go.

I used this all through Winter and it was great.  The sound I think is actually the best of all the cams I’ve tested here – it’s not as badly affected by wind noise, either.

This cam died after 4 months of daily use.  It crashes when you try to record and all the lights stay on until the battery runs out…  Shame.  The other #1 appears to still work but is rarely used.

The two #3 cams never really worked.  Used on bike the vibrations switched them off, and when it didn’t a full battery charge only gave around 20 mins of footage.  This could be down to the very cold Winter we had…

The #3 cameras were significantly better in terms of picture quality, but ultimately unreliable in my test, which is why I bought gave up on the keychain cameras.

Veho Muvi Pro

Price:  £65 (4GB micro SD card included, plus extra mounting clips)
Battery life: 1 hour.
Memory:  8GB removable Micro SD card (not included).  15 mins footage is approx. 800MB.

I received the Veho and the MD80 within a few days of each other, so had a good chance to use them back to back and at the same time.

You can instantly tell that the Veho has far better build quality than the MD80.  For a start the Veho has a metal case.  This makes it weigh a fair bit more, but so far hasn’t been an issue at all.  The Veho also has slides for the on/off function and voice activation, which means there’s much less chance of accidentally switching it on/off by pressing the button on the top.

The picture quality is much better than the keychain cams, and also better than the MD80.  Is it £50 better, though…?

To date there have been no problems whatsoever with the Veho.  Battery doesn’t seem to be deteriorating at all, and it seems as good as the day I got it.

MD80 on the left, Veho Muvi Pro on the right.


MD80

Price:  Under £15 (separate micro SD card required, extra mounting clips included)
Battery life:  1 hour.
Memory:  8GB removable Micro SD card (not included).  15 mins footage is approx. 800MB.

Is there an advantage over the Veho Muvi Pro?  Well it records in a wider screen resolution…

The MD80 seems more affected by vibrations than the Veho, but that’s using my very basic mounting (i.e. taping it to the bike with a bit of foam behind it), so I’m sure could be sorted out quite easily.  The vibrations affect the sound – it’s also worth saying that the MD80 records sound at a lower (quieter) level than the Veho, but in the right place picks up speech clearer.

I’ve had a few problems with the MD80.  Firstly, occasionally it randomly fills the card with fragmented hidden files, meaning everything looks fine except it won’t switch to Record.  Deleting these files makes it all work fine again.

Secondly I think the battery is deteriorating slightly.  Occasionally it will crash when transferring/deleting files, and the only way to do anything about it is to eject the micro SD card and switch it off.

For more info on operating the MD80 have a look here: http://md80instructions.co.uk

Extra things To Consider

The USB leads on the Chinese cameras are made of old shoelaces and Fail.  The best thing to do is to bin them straight away to save yourself the hassles.  Sometimes they will seem absolutely fine, but won’t charge the cam when plugged in, so it looks like the camera is broken and has stopped working.  They’ll cause all kinds of other problems, too, and no doubt many people have scrapped perfectly good cameras simply because they didn’t try using a different USB lead!

On all of these cameras, the Time/Date stamp is a permanent fixture that you can’t get rid of.  I don’t know why, because surely it’s harder NOT to have a time/date stamp than it is to have one?  Anyway, the link to all the techy stuff I posted way up there tells you all you need to know about trying to get around this, or indeed how to set them.  You’ll notice I don not set these, because why would I want to make it easier for anyone to track my antics in a legal dispute?

There are lots of Micro SD cards around.  Apparently, for the best use in a video camera you should get a Class 6 card.  I bought two from China for around £12 for 8GB labelled as Class 6 and they work fine.  However, it is worth noting that the Veho Muvi Pro came with a 4GB Class 4 card.  There is absolutely no difference between them, as far as I can tell.

Something that scuppered my earlier comparisons was that I uploaded some videos at home on a Windows 7 system, and some at work on Windows XP.  Personally, I use Windows Movie Maker to edit my footage, and here lies the problem:  Earlier versions of WMM DO NOT produce HD videos!  This basically means that unless you’re using WMM on Windows 7 you’re producing crap quality videos, and YouTube will make them even worse for you!  I also have Corel VideoStudio 12, which seems good but isn’t as intuitive as WMM.  In short – make sure you get video software capable of producing HD videos or you’ll have crap upload footage.

Whilst some of the Keychain Spycams work fine in a helmet, if you ride a sportsbike you don’t realise how much you look up with your eyes until you film 40 minutes footage of the ground, missing the dump truck that pulled out on you, all your knee-downs, and the owl that splattered on your visor.  To get around this I found in my AGV Stealth helmet I had to mount the Veho and MD80 upside down.  This isn’t a problem as most video editing software have a ‘Rotate film 90 degrees’ type function much like for pictures, so you just flip it the right way up when you edit it.


Conclusion

They are ALL great for the money!  I think there most likely will be a similar progression through the cameras like I made, with the Keychain cams being an entrance point.

More importantly, I have to ask myself which I would buy if I needed a second camera?  And my answer without hesitation would be to shell out the extra money for a Veho.  They have a much better external build quality that you can’t help but think will be to the same standard on the inside, and if they’re not then you have some come-back if you buy directly from them or one of the many reputable merchants who stock them.

Whichever you choose, you’re stepping into a future that’s put a lot of Private Investigators out of business, and though sometimes frustrating at times, all of these cameras are awesome bits of kit!

The Great Cam Experiment | ZX9R in the snow - covert helmet cam Jan 2010 | Nasty Evil Ninja

The Great Cam Experiment | Knee-down on clutch cam! | Nasty Evil Ninja

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64 thoughts on “Cam Study – Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

  1. Pingback: Panama City Marina – Radio Shack Gigawire HD Camcorder 1080p | Camcorders Optical Zoom

      • You have put the best reviews for these cams. So many lies flying around. I bought a Velho multi gum ball rally 3000 edition. Great package. I am a scuba diver and the waterproof housing can go to 25m. I thank you for your honest reviews. Great.
        Regards
        Brian.

        • Thanks! I’m not sure where my pictures have gone from this blog – I might have to try and edit them back in.
          Good to know the waterproof case IS actually properly waterproof. I suspect mine will get a workout when I strap it to my Formula Vee car next season!

    • Ebay is your friend!

      There are thousands of MD80’s on there for around £12, and the keychains for less. There should even be some genuine Veho cameras, but make sure they’ve got the slides on the sides as anything else is a fake.

      It’s also worth using something like Google Shopping to search, because you can grab some great offers if you’re lucky.

  2. It’s frustrating to have a special moment without a camera to capture it. With advancements in technology, everything seems to have gotten smaller including cameras. This enables us to put a camera on just about everything, including a key chain. This way you will never miss a photo opportunity again.

  3. So I’m having trouble with the software to download the video. I am trying to avoid buying another darn program to find drivers, but VEHO’s website is less than helpful. Any idea where I can get the drivers to download my video — for free?

    • You shouldn’t need any extra drivers? When you plug the USB connection in it should recognise the camera as an external drive, then you can drag and drop the files/delete them at will. I’d say get in touch with Veho or return it – because it sounds like it’s knackered to me!

  4. Hi,

    very interesting post, I’m looking for this kind of cam.

    Can you please post a link to the expensive professional kit you are talking about at the start of the article ?

    Thank You

    • Well if you Google the Go-Pro cameras that’s like the next level up. You’re looking at around £200+ and quality is much better.

      There are a million in this bracket and above, but if I were to upgrade then that’s where I’d be looking first.

  5. make sure the veho is fully charged before each use. i had recharged it three weeks ago and went to use it yesterday only to find the battery depleted.

    • Yes I’ve found that – same with the MD80. It doesn’t affect me too much as I use them pretty much daily, but a break of a couple of weeks or more will see the battery losing it’s charge. Up to a week doesn’t seem to make much differece, though.

  6. I have used both the Veho Muvi and MD 80 Chinese rip-off. Pay the extra for the Veho. Its just plain a better quality machine.

    Suggestion: Do not buy more than a 4GB card. The battery only lasts about 75 minutes, so there’s plenty of room on a 4GB card. You’ll run out of battery before your memory is maxed.

    They are awesome!

    • I totally agree! My MD80 is still going strong, but I just can’t help but think that if I’d been using that one daily rather than the Veho it would have let me down.

      You’re right that the 4GB card is enough, but you can never have enough storage, and a bigger gives you the option to simply recharge the battery rather than having to plug into a computer to store/transfer files. That’s something essential if using the cam to record a full day of trackday sessions, for example.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. This amazing is 1 of the most suitable article that My partner and i have read till date on this particular theme. Totally complete yet to the point without the need for any specific nonsense.

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  9. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.

  10. I recently came across your website and have been reading a lot of posts of yours. I just thought I’d add a quick comment and let you know that you’ve got a really nice blog. I’ll watch out for updates from you!

  11. Hello. I just wanted to pop in and comment on the design of your blog. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s too loud. It’s doing way too much and it takes away from what youve got to say – which I think is really important.

  12. The Veho has a lithium ion battery, rechargeable. I’ve seen nothing on HOW it is recharged.

    None of the descriptions state what is included to charge the battery. Is it charged through the camera, is there a separate charging device, and can I buy a separate battery to keep one charged at all times.

    Also, what is the recharging time?

    • The battery is charged via its USB port – either from a computer or a mains adaptor. You get a USB lead with all of these cameras, but be warned that the Chinese ones are terrible quality and a lot of people have thrown the camera away when I’m sure 99% of the time the problem is just the USB lead!

      I’m not entirely sure on charge time. I’d say around 2 hours to be safe, but it could well be more like 1 hour. I’ve used them on trackdays where I recorded 7x 25-30 min sessions and only put the cam on charge for the 1 hour lunch break plus a few mins between some sessions, and it didn’t fail on me.

  13. Hello,
    A great site and the video postings – did help me a lot. If possible, I would like your advice / suggestion on VCC-005-MUVI-HD7. Worth the money (costs about £101 from Amazon) or stick with Veho Muvi Pro? I intend to use it for daily rides & training.

    Thank you very much.

    Regards,
    Neru

    • Hi, It’s the first time I’ve seen this new Veho! It looks good for the remote control – that would make mounting points much easier because you don’t have to be able to get to the on/off button.

      Bad points seem to be no external mic, and the bloody time stamp is still there! I like the upgraded battery and card capacity, but other than that it’s not a great improvement over the last one…

      For £125+ rrp it’s probably worth spending a bit more and getting something like a GoPro, but you can get it for £88 here, and that’s very tempting: http://www.scan.co.uk

      If you get it let me know how you get on with it! 🙂

      • Thank you so much for the reply – much appreciated… I agree with you regarding the remote control as it is a nice feature to be able to turn on or off. As I have never used this type of device, I have no idea whether it is good to have ext. mic or not… and reading your comment kind of suggests that it is better to have such connection… I will take that suggestion ‘on-board’. I tried to find the difference between Muvi Pro and VCC-005-MUVI-HD7… I found that the CMOS lens for VCC-005-MUVI-HD7 is 5 Mega Pixel… not sure whether it will contribute enormously towards the image quality.

        You mentioned about GoPro… I guess you are referring to http://gopro.com/products/ … if that is the case than I looked at it before, but could not come to justify the cost £265.05 (from Amazon.co.uk for GoPro HD). Sorry could not manage to land on the £88 deal as yet but searching… so if possible could you please repost the URL… Also, I got the impression that GoPro could be a bit fiddly to mount on a bike (mine is a Suzuki Bandit, half faired) due to its square shape…. otherwise the footage available on the net from GoPro is really impressive.

        Regarding footage, like vs dislike of the camera …. sure that will be a pleasure.

        Regards,

        N

  14. I have to say I prefer the smaller cams to the GoPro kit, too. They’re far easier to mount. I have seen them second hand for around £150…

    An external mic is good if you want to add commentary or do a vlog. The sound of the Muvi Pro is good for the engine, but you can’t speak with it on, and so the option of an external mic would be great.

    I thought all the Veho’s had a 5mp lens? If they don’t, then I’ve just been tempted towards the new one even more!

  15. I agree with you totally…. I wish I could buy a GoPro since it has superior quality but the cost of one GoPro HD Motorsport is equal to 6 X Veho VCC-003 Muvi…. really expensive. So I guess will stick with Veho – need to make up mind whether it will be Veho VCC-003 Muvi (Amazon £39.57) or VCC-005-MUVI-HD7 (Amazon £94.99).

    • It looks like there’s also a HD10 version with a bit better quality around! I’ve found one for £125 on the site i mentioned, but am a bit reserved about the fish-eye type lens…. I may well buy it this week and have a look at it.

      • I got the HD10 version this morning. After a quick play today I’m partly impressed and partly disappointed…
        Expect a full review before the end of the week (maybe longer if I don’t get decent weather for a bike run)! 🙂

  16. Pingback: Veho VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Full Review After Onboard Test « Nasty Evil Ninja's Playpen of Doom

  17. Wow you deserve some Respect – many thanks for the video and all the effort for superb writing…. is Veho paying you, if not they should 😀 … as your article was well written, to the point with facts and feedbacks… many thanks. Well this caused a dilemma… I do like the price and willing to compromise on the quality but do not like time stamping and file splitting. On the other hand GoPro HD Hero is expensive and so very square to fit on the bike… quick request, could you please share the urls as I can not find Veho HD10 for £125 (£142 from Scan.co.uk) and GoPro HD Hero for £250 (Amazon and others around £299.95)…. once again thanks for posting, much appreciated!!!

  18. Another post – just found out that GoPro has Hero HD 960 model (Costs £165) which does the same job as GoPro Hero HD (Costs £300)… differences are not able to record at 1080p and connect accessories like battery expander…

    • Hmm…. sounds interesting but is it in the same bulky package? Come to think of it, why would you want to pay more than the Veho HD10 and get less quality anyway?

      Assuming that will record at 720p, then that’s similar to the Veho HD7, then?

      • Absolutely spot on… also, found some folks are complaining about GoPro Hero 960 footage quality…. Hmmm another tough decision spend £300 or pay £125 and live with Veho’s graffiti…. 😦

        • There *may* be a way to remove it… I don’t think anyone was fully successfull with the old cams, but if they’ve listened to the major complaint maybe Veho have a way to remove it this time? It’s still very early days for this cam…

    • Thanks! It’s taken several attempts and this theme still isn’t perfect, but it’s most of the way there for me! I’d recommend choosing a theme with Widgets – they make life a lot easier.

  19. Hey, great site and information. I have the Veho and like the Lithium ion battery for lasting charge. I recharge it every two or three days on my computer. I hope it last because it will probably cost a good bit for a new one. Do you have any idea of the replacement cost?

    • Thanks!
      I don’t know if Veho sell replacement batteries? They should do, and it should be fairly simple to swap one over – but like you say they’ll probably charge a fair bit for it so it might be worth just buying a new camera in the end. The good news is that whilst my MD80 camera battery died after around 9 months, the Veho camera is still running perfectly, and still has around an hour battery life after 18 months!

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  21. Referring to your MD80 review where you said there is no way of knowing when the battery in the MD80 spy cam is fully charged via the USB to computer method, I have the AC battery charger (afew e-bay retailers include it), and there are 2 lights – green and red. When the green goes out the battery is charged. It takes somewhere around an hour and a bit.

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