Optics are still one area of consumer products where you definitely get what you pay for.
I am not familiar with night vision optics but I am familiar with high grade optics use for long range marksmanship. A truly good variable magnification rifle scope built for precision work (not deer hunting) will easily run you $1500 at the bottom end and over $3500 at the top. Fixed magnification spotting scopes, being simpler, cost less but even there the very bottom of acceptable quality starts at $800.
You will get a lot of people who say "my made in China X works just as good", well, they usually don't know what they don't know or their idea of good is far less stringent than that of a more serious user.
Moral of the story, I agree with those who say stay away from the cheap night vision stuff. It's probably junk.
Binoculars above 10x can be hand-held, if they're image-stabilized. But again, you're talking big bucks. I have a 10x50 pair I use for game watching and casual astronomy.
There are game camera in the under-$100 range that are useful for seeing what's going on at night. Typically they're about 5 megapixel and available in visible and infrared flash. With IR, there's some blurring if the object moves during the exposure and the image in not in color.
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