By Scott Rolfe – Communication’s Director, The Dove Foundation

One of the advantages of being the Communications Director at The Dove Foundation is that I get to review any new technologies being introduced to help families enjoy entertainment without gratuitous sex, language or violence.  One such product that has appeared recently is an RCA DVD player that uses “ClearPlay” filtering technology.

This DVD player is designed to actually edit films “on-the-fly” allowing families to watch movies that contain objectionable material without viewing or hearing the bad stuff.

When I received my player, I eagerly opened the box and connected the player to my TV, put the batteries in the remote, and powered the sleekly designed unit on.  Like any red-blooded American male, I set the instruction aside (without looking at them of course) and started working my way through the on-screen menu. 

Out of the box, the player’s “ClearPlay” filtering technology is turned off.  When you select the Parental Control feature for the first time, the player will ask you to enter a 4 digit pass-code that will turn the “ClearPlay” filtering system on and lock the player’s filtering settings.

By default, the player will filter out all objectionable content.  You can easily modify the allowable content by selecting or deselecting settings in the following areas:  3 Violence settings; 4 Sex & Nudity settings; 6 Language settings.  Another feature allows you to control what type of films can or cannot be watched based on their MPAA rating.  All settings can be overridden by entering the pass-code.

The RCA player comes pre-loaded with filters for 100 of the most popular movies.  You can browse through an alphabetical listing to see if the film you are about the watch has its filter installed.  If not, you may download filters for hundreds of films for a small fee from the ClearPlay website and burn the filters onto a CD.  When you place a CD containing filters into the player, it will allow you to select the filters you wish to load.  After your selection process is completed, the filters are loaded and you can begin enjoying the show.

During my review process, I watched several films.  I was impressed with the way the player handled the different types of filtering.  If a bad word is spoken, the volume of your TV is momentarily muted.  While you cannot hear the words, you can still read the lips of the actor or actress but this is not unlike watching a movie that has been edited for television. 

Where the rubber meets the road is when you come to a scene containing graphic violence or nudity.  When this occurs, the player “skips” over the objectionable content and picks up immediately afterward.  This jump is only noticeable in a few of the many times it may happen during the viewing of a film.  If you have seen the movie in a non-filtered version, you may experience a brief sense of time travel; however, this is a very small price to pay in order to view a film without its objectionable content.  For the most part, you will not even be aware that a “skip” has taken place.

In the movies I watched, 100% of the objectionable content was removed.  While not all films will meet Dove’s criteria even with filtering, most PG/PG-13 and some R rated films will be sanitized to a level that would meet or exceed our standards.

All in all, I was extremely impressed with the ease of setup and use of the player and would highly recommend it to any family that likes to watch films without objectionable material.

For more information, visit the ClearPlay website