As the name suggests, this is a ballpoint pen with a voice recorder built into it which you can activate discretely via moving the pen clip. You can also have the pen optionally activate when it detects sounds.
The model I was sent includes 1GB of storage but there are also 256MB and 2GB options, using the sound activation you can conserve the memory of the device, only recording when it detects a sound.
Three levels of audio quality allow you to record from 8 up to 33 hours. A built-in battery lasts for 12 hours of continuous operation. An included remote control and headset will enable you to easily control the device and listen to recordings directly from the spy pen’s memory.
Priced at £105 for the 256MB model it is not exactly cheap so it is probably not a device you would buy as a toy. With all the privacy concerns over the last few years and the implementation of the GDPR I thought it was worthwhile checking up on the law about covert recording.
I am not a solicitor so don’t quote me on it, but for personal use, you are allowed to record conversations without the other persons consent. This also includes phone calls. There is no specific law against this, and the only grey area could be a victim claiming a breach of their privacy and claim civil damages.
What you generally can’t do is to sell or release the recording to the public without consent.
There are laws for business about covert phone recording, but again this is allowed without your consent if the business uses it internally for various reasons. I am not sure about covert recording via other means though.
Build & Performance
The pen itself looks exactly like any other black ballpoint pen; there is no added bulk to it or anything that would give it away as another other than a pen. Even upon closer inspection, I would not be able to tell that it is a voice recorder. The pen functions just like you would expect. It does look and feel like a cheap ballpoint, but I guess that’s the point.
The only thing that appears to differentiate it from a regular pen is 3.5mm hole in the top of the pen, which you wouldn’t realise what it was unless you know it was a voice recorder. This jack is used for charging, data transfer, and listening to recordings.
Within the packaging, you get a USB charger, some cheap earphones, and remote control which can start-stop, skip and fast forward.
To enable recording you just need to slide the pen clip to start recordings. Once done you can then transfer them to your PC or listen directly from the pen. While the earphones are cheap, they work fine for voice recordings.
The recordings are average quality, they work for the intended purpose, but not as good as a proper dictaphone with a large microphone.
Overall this does as advertised, I don’t have any use for a device like this, so the price tag seems a little high, but at the same time, if you did have a need for it, £105 maybe quite cheap.
MemoQ Digital Voice Recorder & Pen MQ-77N