- Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:51 am
I will begin my response by saying that I am biased because I have been using Spartan cameras for about a year and a half now. I also do not have any experience with the Covert Blackhawk, only with the 2015 Covert 3G, which we kept less than 90 days because it performed poorly compared to the Spartans. (The guy who bought it is tickled with it, though, so I think we had a signal strength issue.)
List prices on the Spartan VZW cameras are $449.95 for the IR and $469.95 for the black flash. Even with a good sale, it's going to be hard to get those prices under $400. Am not familiar with Covert pricing, but the prices are likely to be close enough that price should have little or nothing to do with your decision.
Soon (should be within the next month or so), the Spartan VZW cameras can be added to an existing VZW phone plan for $5/month. I don't know what the Covert pricing is, but I'm pretty sure it's a good bit higher than that and will not likely be $5/month any time soon, if at all. Total for monthly service if you use the app (which I highly recommend) is $8-9/month, depending on how many months of premium service you buy at a time.
I started using a prototype Spartan VZW camera on 8/24/2014. I'm not sure when the production VZW cameras actually started shipping, but it was a year ago, give or take. IOW, the Spartan VZW cameras have been out in customers' hands for a good while, much longer than the Coverts. We are not running any VZW cameras now, but will be putting one out next weekend. We are running AT&T because of the lower monthly cost (the $5 plan wasn't available for VZW), plus we discovered that the AT&T Spartan cameras manage to make great lemonade out of crappy AT&T signal. One of them sometimes reports no signal strength at all but it still manages to pump out the photos. The AT&T Coverts we used had problems.
Looks like testing of the Spartan web portal and GoWireless app started in January of last year, so the app has been out and in use since spring of last year. It is mature and tested (although still undergoing development as features are added), not a prototype.
One of the hidden gems of the app is the ability to set up to 10 events. Well, you can actually set 9 because one is used to send you a daily status report (at a time you select, with info on battery status, signal strength, picture count, SD card, etc.), whether you want it or not. Several of our cameras are in low-traffic areas so I like being able to tell the cameras to send me pictures at 9 AM and 9 PM. That way, I get two pictures a day, regardless. I don't have to worry if the camera doesn't sent pictures for several days that it is down or missing.
Covert may have changed by now, or may change with the app, but the closest I could get with the Covert to "security blanket" pics was to set time lapse to 8 hours. I could tell it when to take the pictures and the 8 hours was 8 hours that started after the picture was sent so the times gradually changed a couple or three minutes each shot.
The 2-year warranty on the Spartans is also something to take into account.
I hope some of the Blackhawk owners will share their experience so you can hear from users of both brands of cameras and make your decision based on the factors that are important to you.
Spartan Camera test team