Best Digital Inspection Camera
Camera snakes under $40 for engines, pipes, vents, walls
Boroscope / Endoscope flexible cables, often called “Inspection Snakes”, with a tiny digital video camera and LED lighting are great for getting a look into places you normally can’t see. If you want to see what is in your wall, a pipe or HVAC duct work, these bendable lines are what you need.
Added bonus is these are waterproof, so you can check out leaking or clogged drains, pipes and gutters.
You can choose between three types: USB-C connection to your device, Wi-Fi connection or comes with an attached / dedicated screen. The USB-C snake scopes generally will only work with Android devices (we haven’t had 100% success with USB-to-Lightning adapters for iOS use).
We focus on the Wi-Fi connected cables (since they work with nearly all newer iOS and Android devices) and the snakes with an attached display. Generally, the Wi-Fi cables are less expensive since they don’t need to provide a display; Cables with displays are best for anyone that doesn’t want to risk damaging or losing an expensive smart device. Most home-owners and DIY-types will do well with the Wi-Fi cables.
Top Pick – DEPSTECH 2.0MP
The DEPSTECH 2.0 MP (Megapixels) HD Inspection Snake, about $36, is an 11.5-foot (3.5-meter) borescope / endoscope that uses WiFi to connect to your smart device (iOS, Android and Windows are supported). We like the that semi-rigid cable is easy to maneuver into tight spaces, and is stiff enough to push into ducting bends.
The DEPSTECH cables are rated IP67 Waterproof , so you are good to use them for both dry and wet inspections.
The 8.5mm diameter head-end camera is a decent 2.0 MP (Megapixels) HD. You can stream / record video in AVI format at 30 fps (frames per second) and snapshot image in JPG format. Settings allow for four adjustable resolutions 320×240, 640×480, 1280 x 720,1600×1200.
Note that the camera is fixed focus, instead of zoom focus. To get the best image quality, the recommended observation distance is about 1.2-inches to 15.7-inches. Like most fixed focus cameras, if too far or too close, you won’t get the best pictures.
Around the camera are 6 LED lights. You can adjust the brightness from “off” to 100% using the controls in the app.
Everything is powered with a USB rechargeable 2200 mAh battery, which provides enough juice to get through a full day of scoping.
The cable is 11.5 feet ( 3.5 meters), which should be long enough for most home inspection jobs.
The endoscope connects directly to your iOS, Android or Windows smart device over WiFi. You don’t need to have an internet connection as it’s a dedicated link between your device and the scope. You will need to download and install the DEPSTECH app. Note that Android users have reported some issues with the DEPSTECH-WiFi app.
The cable comes with 3 useful accessories: mirror, magnet and hook.
- The small mirror will be a good tool for viewing;
- The magnet provides a nice way to pick up screws, nuts, wires. etc. from hard-to-reach places;
- The grabber hook is useful to pick up other small items.
We like that the attachments screw onto the head of the camera, rather than just slip. So far, no reports of the attachments falling off . And, they are made of machined metal – very sturdy.
Buy through Amazon, DEPSTECH 2.0 MP (Megapixels) HD 11.5-foot Inspection Snake, about $36.
Best Long Cable – DEPSTECH 2.0MP 33-Feet
For just a few bucks more, you can increase the cable length 3x – from 11.5-feet to 33-feet. The longer DEPSTECH 2MP Semi-rigid Snake has all the features and attachments as the 11.5-foot unit, just more cable. At around $40, it’s a deal for the length.
Best Resolution – DEPSTECH 5.0MP
For more features and higher resolution, the DEPSTECH 5.0MP HD Wireless Endoscope is 16.5-feet for about $60.
In addition to boosting the camera resolution from 2.0MP to 5.0MP, you also get a zoom function (up to 3x). There are two additional buttons on the controller – one for zoom in, the other from zoom out.
The focal distance enlarges to 15.7-inches from 2.76-inches, so you can see clearly what you want to see.
You get the same brightness adjustable 6 LEDs.
Recording is also easier with the larger orange button on the controller. Just press to capture images.
The WiFi connectivity is also enhanced with a second antenna.
We like the warranty is also improved to a 3-Year Worry Free Warranty. You get included free customer service for any questions or issues you might have.
Buy though Amazon, DEPSTECH 5.0MP HD Wireless Endoscope is 16.5-feet for about $60.
Best With Display – NIDAGE 2.0MP
The NIDAGE 2.0MP 16.5-foot Inspection snake with attached 4.3-inch LCD Screen, about $73, is our top choice in this category.
If you don’t want to mess around with loading apps and using WiFi, a borescope camera snake with a dedicated display is the way to go.
The NIDAGE comes with an attached 4.3-inch LCD IPS Screen, similar to an early iPhone 4 if you remember those.
The advantage of the included screen is that you don’t have to worry about dropping or damaging your expensive smart phone.
Some users also feel the images are shown more immediately than with a WiFi connection, and also get a smoother viewing experience.
We definitely prefer a dedicated screen to not have to install or update any apps to make this snake work. Sometimes avoiding that frustration is more than worth the extra expense. This is especially true if other friends, neighbors or co-workers will borrow your endoscope – no need for you to explain to them how to download, install and use the apps.
The 2.0MP camera is a compact 5.5mm diameter, providing 1080p HD resolution to the display.The unit comes with an 8MB removable memory card to store images and videos. If you need to share, you can plug the card into a laptop to transfer the pictures.
The is again a fixed focal camera, no zoom. You can get clear images from 1.2-inches to 8-inches. The image resolution is adjustable from full HP down-to SD: 1920 x 1080, 1208 x720, 640 x 480
It has 6 LEDs, with adjustable brightness levels. We like these are 6500K daylight spectrum lights, giving a clean, crisp image in dark spaces.
Similar to the other scopes in this review, the camera and cable are fully IP67 waterproof rated.
The 16.5-foot semi-rigid cable has a good firmness, making it stiff enough to easily push into vents or pipes, but also flexible enough to be able to bend around corners.
The camera, LEDs and display are powered by a built-in 2800mAh USB rechargeable lithium battery. You can expect continuous working for up to 3 to 4 hours.
Snapshot, Video recording, Zoom in/out function, 360° Rotation, view pictures and videos on the 4.3inch screen, transfer pictures and videos from TF card to PC
Similar to other snakes, you’ll get the 3 screw mount accessories – hook, magnet and side mirror.
We like that NIDAGE includes a carrying bag to keep the screen from getting damaged, and so you don’t lose any of the attachments.
The $30 premium for the dedicate screen is worth it when considering the hassles of apps, convenience for multiple users and possible damages to your expensive personal electronics. If this was a 5.0 MP instead of 2.0 MP camera, it would check all the boxes for us. Still, it’s a great addition to your home toolkit and worth the price.
Get your NIDAGE 2.0MP 16.5-foot Inspection snake with attached 4.3-inch LCD Screen through Amazon.
More Info / Ordering
Please use our Amazon links below to get additional details or to order:
DEPSTECH 2.0 MP 11.5-feet, Wi-Fi, about $36
DEPSTECH 2MP 33-feet, Wi-Fi, about $40
DEPSTECH 5.0MP 16.5-feet, Wi-Fi, about $60
NIDAGE 2.0MP 16.5-feet, w/display, about $73