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Ever wanted to try your hand at covert activities? I know from my 007-kit I had as a kid that one of the most important things in a spy’s toolkit is a tiny camera. Right after a gun and an exploding briefcase, the spy-camera is essential. Now, Digital Dream has made the dream reality.
Following on from the success of the tiny L’espion camera, the 007 JB1 is a more advanced model that has been crammed into a Zippo-style lighter case.
The question is whether the JB1 is a novelty that gets played with on Christmas Day and then forgotten, or if it’s a real camera with real uses. After much debate, I have to say that it is a real camera. Its quality is basic, but it’s a real camera nevertheless.
The resolution is 640-x-480 pixels (0.3 megapixels), which is low, but still useable. It can store 150 pictures in this mode, or 310 if at the lower resolution of 352-x-288 pixels. There are no memory cards; it’s all built-in storage. It takes one AAA battery, which seems to last a long time (at least for the duration of our tests).
If this was all the JB1 did, the £69 price tag would be a little high. However, those are only the basic functions: you can also use it for recording up to 12 minutes of sound (enough for you to rattle off the secret passwords).
You can even do 30 seconds of sound and video, but tragically this only works on Windows. If anybody knows how to convert the resulting file, I’d love to know about it.
Most intriguing is the time-delay option. The camera can be set to take pictures at regular intervals, from one to 90 minutes. This means it can be left in discreet places to see who’s been nicking your sarnies, or plans from your submarine.
Another minor but bound-to-be-useful feature is the fact that you can use the JB1 as storage. It only has seven-and-a-bit megabytes, but it’s enough to get your work home, or somebody else’s off their computer. It works with a USB cable, and usually doesn’t need drivers. There are some supplied on a credit-card-sized CD just in case you do need them.
If this were just a plain old low-resolution camera, the £69 price tag would be a bit hopeful. However, it’s a clever little thing – full of surprises and widgets. Though it’s a shame the video features, including the webcam ability, are Windows-only, it still does enough to justify the price. It’s also beautifully packaged, and a lot of fun – ideal for the Christmas stocking. Or the secret-underground-volcano-fortress.