Do spys and undercover police types still use micro reel to reels

I’ve watched a couple of spy and police shows recently that were set in contemporary times in which they were still using those little reel to reels. Like this:

I’m wondering if that was for visual purposes only - because they do look cool. But surely those agencies have been using digital recorders for some time, right. Or maybe tapes are less prone to audio tampering?

I’ve been retired for more than 10 years and we stopped using reel-to-reels long before that. First we went to mirco-cassettes and then to digital. As Trump and others have found out the digital recorders can be made to look like anything, have large capacity, no moving parts and good recording quality. I didn’t look at the video but I’m guessing it was a Nagra recorder. Huge, expensive ($5000 back in the day) and no denying its a tape recorder. Great quality sound, though.

Visual purposes only, so the audience knows exactly what the device does with anyone having to explain it to them.

Hold really big pencils?

Everyone with a smartphone has a great clandestine recording device in their pocket. I suppose in a movie you could show a character starting Voice Memos and putting the phone in a shirt pocket, but, while accurate, it wouldn’t be very cinematic.

I am constantly surprised by how rarely the use of a phone* to record a conversation is used in TV and movies.

People say all sorts of incriminating stuff to others in these things apparently without being the least bit concerned they are being recorded. It’s enough to make one scream at the TV: “Turn your phone recorder on, idiot!”

  • Note just smartphones, but lesser cell phones have had this capability for quite some time.

In the often cited video showing the law professor and a detective talking about why you shouldn’t talk to police, the detective said that he sometimes uses a small cassette recorder during interviews basically as a prop to trick a suspect into telling more information than he’d do otherwise.

In the interrogation room he’d begin the interview by first starting up the recorder and placing it in the middle of the table so the suspect could see the tape turning and recording. When he got close to extracting the info he needed, he’d then pick up the recorder and stop it, and ask the suspect the important question “off the record”, with the intent to deceive the suspect into thinking it was safe to answer because that particular response wasn’t be being recorded.

After the interview he’d then toss the tape into a box full of other tapes, and either erase it or tape over it during the next interview. The recording made on that device didn’t matter because the entire interview was recorded by the audio/visual recording equipment already installed in the room, including the part the suspect believed to be “off the record”.

So, not undercover police nor a reel to reel device, but there may still be some use for these old recording devices in modern times.

Which contemporary spy and police shows have people using mini Nagras? Those are antiques. Do those shows also have people writing in invisible ink and stealing microdots?

At least in my state, none of that would be legal.

I didn’t say they were using Nagras, I provided the link as a visual example of what I was talking about.