How to: Record Video and Take Notes Simultaneously

This post comes courtesy of a reader from Australia. The reader wants to select a tablet that will work well for recording videos (a lecture or something else), and enable him/her to take notes at the same time. Seems pretty simple, yet, as I discovered, there aren’t a lot of tablets or methods for accomplishing the task.

My suggestion for the reader is to purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10 inch) or Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7 inch). Samsung has done a fantastic job of enabling some sweet multitasking capabilities. This will allow the user to run two applications simultaneously. The multitasking theoretically would allow you to run the built-in camera application and a note-taking app at the same time. Note though, the multitasking feature is only available in a small number of apps.

Unfortunately, my tablet (ASUS Transformer Infinity) doesn’t have Samsung’s capabilities, so I had to look for applications to accomplish the same process. Specifically, I needed an app that would allow the camera to run in the background while I took notes in Evernote or SuperNote.

I checked out several “spy camera apps,” and found Mobile Hidden Camera was the easiest to use, performed the functions effectively, and produced a quality video recording.

Mobile Hidden Camera for AndroidFor extended or unlimited recording, you’ll want to upgrade to the standard ($4.99), pro ($12.99), or premium ($44.99) version of the app. You can compare the editions here, but each edition expands the stealth involved. Since neither I nor the Australian reader were interested in stealth, I would opt for the standard version (I stuck with the “lite” version for this test).

Mobile Hidden Camera sits in your device’s app tray under the “Simple Notepad” name.

Simple Notepad Android App

The functions are pretty simple to figure out, mainly because of the simple layout. Unfortunately, though the picture shows otherwise, the app doesn’t distinguish between landscape and portrait mode – the app remains in portrait mode.

Simple Notepad Home Menu

This isn’t a problem though, because the app will adjust the video accordingly so the video will display properly.

Simply press the “Video” button to start recording. You’ll see a quick reminder, then the screen will remain black. The video is recording.

Simple Notepad Reminder

On the black screen, you’ll simply need to go to the app drawer and pull up your desired note-taking app. You can shut down the recording by pressing the back button, or by reentering the app. The file gets delivered to your SDcard under the MHC folder. From here, you can move your files off of your device quickly and easily.

Now for a few words of caution about this method. First, don’t expect to be able to combine your notes with the video recording, at least during the recording. I suspect you can use a third party desktop video editing suite to combine your notes and video.

Second, because there’s no on-screen viewing (part of the stealth aspect), you’ll have to experiment with lining up the recording to properly place your subject.

Third, the quality of your video is only as good as your device. This also includes the audio quality, in addition to the video. I would suggest placing a lavaliere mic on your subject to capture better audio. If your only intent is for future reference, you can probably pass using the tablet’s built-in microphone. You also have to remember that there is no way to compensate for poor lighting or other conditions.

Finally, I’d suggest that you get a keyboard for typing. A keyboard will also force you to stabilize the device.

You can see the type of recording in this quick video I created at my house.

Mobile Hidden Camera provides at least one viable option for creating a video recording and taking notes at the same time. Whether this method is useful will be determined by your needs.

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)

Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.