21 April 2009

Review: ClearPlay DVD Player

Eric and I bought a ClearPlay DVD player in January.

It's a DVD player that allows you to filter content from any DVD without altering the DVD itself. It works with a USB memory stick (also called a jump drive, thumb drive, flash drive, etc.). You pay for a membership to the website which allows you to download filters, which you put on your memory stick. Then you plug the memory stick into your player, set the filters to your preference levels and enjoy your film without the objectionable content.

You can filter a variety of content including language, violence, nudity, sexuality, blasphemy, and even silly things like mushiness, dishonor parent, and dishonor flag. Seriously. I could never make those up. I don't even know what mushiness is. We have that filter turned off. In addition to choosing what content to filter you can also choose the level of filtering that you want. Maybe a little swearing is okay. Maybe you don't want to hear even the slightest hint of a swear word. You decide.

It's a great idea, really. Only, it just doesn't work very well.

Our player constantly skips, and despite multiple calls to the help line, we frequently get the same results. Usually the movie plays fine up to a certain point, then the skipping begins. At that point we have to eject the disc, press a few buttons, put in a magical code, wait a few moments and then try the DVD again. Usually this works, but sometimes it doesn't. Even when it does work we still end up frustrated that our movie has been interrupted, the lights have been switched on, and our movie-watching environment is shattered.

The help line is only open until about 10 at night, which is fine for people who only use their players to that point. We, however, use our player generally later than that. I wonder how it goes for folks on the East Coast. Do they have to watch their movies before the sun goes down? When I have talked to people on the help line, they have usually been pretty knowledgeable. One time, though, Eric talked to a person who was really a salesperson, and not a tech person. What he should have done was redirected Eric to a technical support fellow. Instead, he gave Eric this gem of advice, "If the player is skipping, try turning some of your filter levels down or off." Excuse me? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the player? I bought the player BECAUSE OF THE ABILITY TO FILTER objectionable content.

One time I called to tell them that the memory stick that came with the player was defective. In fact, I called about the middle of March on that. Today Eric got an email that said our new memory stick is in the mail. Over a month? Seriously?

Also, the phone number printed on the box is incorrect. Two of the digits are inverted. Luckily the website has it right.

In conclusion, I say that ClearPlay is a great idea, but it doesn't pay to be an early adopter. It's still very buggy and is more of an irritation than it is a Godsend.


Anonymous said...

I hate that you're having trouble with your Clearplay. My wife and I (we live in Nashville, Tenn.) bought ours in January and haven't had any problem at all. We've watched about 10 movies since then and none have skipped. Maybe you just got a lemon. (We rent our movies through Netflix, although I'm sure that makes no difference.)

Jenn said...

I think ClearPlay is a great idea, too. I've even thought about buying one for my family as a present, so I'm glad to see your review. Maybe they need more time to perfect it...

Science Teacher Mommy said...

G-rated movies?

Jillybean said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that Sherry. The only consistent thing I've only noticed is that it sometimes gets off if the movie is paused, but it goes back on in a short period of time. Other than that it's work just fine... sorry... :(

Erika said...

Oh, that's terrible! You need to just get a new one...we purchased two, and we've been using them for months and months, with never a problem. Give it another chance, see if they'll replace it.