Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review:Lawmate PV500 Lite 2

Well, since I received a working camera unit a while ago as replacement, I guess I should probably review this purchase.

The first caveat is that this is the entry-level model of the Lawmate range of DVRs and is relatively inexpensive when compared to their other products.

However, it's certainly a world away from the cheap and cheerful budget covert cams you might find out there. It wouldn't really be all that fair to compare them.

Anyway, I've had a chance to play around with it several times although I have yet to have the opportunity to actually use it in the field, so to speak.

My thoughts thus far?

It's a good buy for the money.

For less than US$300 you get a complete kit of DVR, button camera, range of four different sized decoy buttons and extra actual buttons (if you are hardcore and want to ensure all buttons on that jacket or shirt actually match), charger, control cable, belt pouch, USB cable, and IR remote. Oh, and an 8GB micro SD card with adapter.

You are getting a self-contained kit that you can pretty much put straight to use out of the box, well, once you've charged the battery. 

The next model up, the Lawmate PV500 EVO2 HD starts at around US$500 and that's just for the DVR and accessories, alone. Camera costs extra, around the US$180 mark - dependng on what kind you are after.

What about the video quality?

Well, you can see that for yourself here. Actually, not so much due to the compression.

video 

Probably would have been better too, if I stood still more. 

As stated in the previous post, you are getting a resolution of 720x576 at 28 fps. It's serviceable but you aren't going to be getting any high definition shots here. 

The biggest problem I had was keeping the camera unit facing straight ahead. I found that the shirt I was wearing might have been a bit too lightweight, literally, as the cam unit either would end upfacing slightly upwards by its own weight, or the shirt would 'flap' while walking making the shot video quite unsteady.

I experimented with cutting out a rectangluar piece of cardboard and putting a hole in the centre and this seemed to steady the cam unit fairly well, but then the next problem was that I still had the camera facing slightly to one side rather than straight ahead.

I think that a different shirt, or maybe even a jacket, might be a better option.

That being said, my final verdict?

The Good    
  • All you need in one box. It's a complete kit. Sure, you can purchase other cameras or extended batteries, but this is usable as is.
  • Pricing. You get a lot for your dollar.
  • Size. The DVR is compact and easily concealed under clothing. 
  • Date/time stamping. Yay! No need for running videos through other software later to add. 
The Bad
  • Nothing to complain about yet.
The Indifferent
  • Finnicky cam. I think I definitely need to buy a 'surveillance shirt' or jacket that doesn't flap around or otherwise has the camera unit facing off to one side.   
  • Video quality. Serviceable but not geat.
  • IR remote to access menus. Actually, this was a bit annoying but given that the screen isn't touch sensitive, and there are no keys on unit to scroll and select items etc, what else can you expect?
I think, all things considered, this deserves an A.

I probably should have spent more and gone for the next model up but I certainly don't regret this purchase and it will make a good spare unit, or one that can be deployed when there is some risk of losing your equipment.

What about your experiences with this or other Lawmate products? Do tell...

2 comments:

  1. I have the same issues with these button cameras when it comes to keeping them aimed straight. I'll try your idea with the little piece of cardboard.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Neal,

      Also try a liberal application of cloth tape on rear of shirt to position the camera correctly and also keep shirt closed since it's not actually buttoned.

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