Captiview – Review

Yesterday I went to the Bay Park Square Marcus Theatres in Green Bay, WI to review the Captiview device. It’s a device that is supposed to show closed captions at a movie theatre. Reviews on this device were mixed on other blogs as well as YouTube. I wanted to review it for myself, so I decided to give it a shot.

I picked yesterday to go to the movies because Marcus Theatres has admission to all movies for just $5 every Tuesday, so I figured that if the Captiview didn’t work out, at least I didn’t spend a whole lot of money. Right now, there weren’t really any movies that I really wanted to see. Nothing jumped out at me. I also wanted to see a movie that has been out for a while, which means the screening room would not be packed. So I picked the movie “The Hitman’s Bodyguard“, which had been running for about three weeks.

I went in and paid for my ticket, then asked the attendant if I could have the Captiview device. She said, no problem, and asked a coworker to get it for her. Within a few minutes, the other employee brought out the Captiview device and showed me how to use it. I got my soda, then went to the screening room and choose to sit in the back row so I wouldn’t bother anyone behind me. Plus in the back row there is only 2 benches of just 3 seats each. Perfect. I wouldn’t have to worry about some moron getting in my way. I sat down and set my soda in the cup holder on my right and the device itself into the cup holder on the left.

Below is a stock photo of what it looks like in a person’s seat.

As you can see, it fits in a cup holder and the device is flexible so I can position it any way I want. The previews started playing and some of the previews, but not all, were captioned, so I used the previews as a test run to position the device for the best viewing angles that I could get and ended up getting this view during the previews. Normally, cell phone usage during a movie is frowned upon. But since I was in the back row, no one else were around me. and it was just the previews. So I used my phone to take a quick shot of the device from my vantage point.

As you can see, the device is describing someone laughing in the preview. Because it is dark, you can barely make out the device itself, but it’s there. I positioned it so it is right below the movie screen. Sitting in the back row has another advantage in that it’s higher up than the front rows. The screen is a bit low from my vantage point, allowing me to perfectly place the device right below the bottom of the screen.

Now I’ll list one positive and one negative about this device.

The Positive – Many reviews that I’ve read (or watched on YouTube) said the device either did not work at all or when it did, the captions were not in sync with the movie. I never had a problem at all with this device at Bay Park Square Marcus Theatres in Green Bay. The captions worked flawlessly without issues and were in sync with the movie. I was able to follow the entire movie with no issues.

The Negative – Take another look at the picture above. As you can see, the captions are clear. However, the movie in the background is blurry because my phone was focusing on the device itself, not the movie.

This is exactly what my eyes saw while I was watching the movie. If I’m focusing on the movie, the captions are blurry to me. If I’m reading the captions, then the movie in the background is blurry. I was constantly trying to refocus  my eyes looking at the device, then the screen, and back.

Thankfully, this particular movie that I was watching  was an action movie with lots more action than dialogue. So my focus was on the screen for much of the movie. If I was watching a drama or a comedy, both known to have lots of dialogue, I would have had more issues refocusing my eyes on the device and the screen.

I would very much prefer it if the theatre would just show open captions right there on the screen. I wouldn’t have to refocus my eyes so much because the words are right there on the screen, something that I’m looking at anyways like I would do when I’m home watching a movie on TV.

But most movie threatres won’t show open captions for two reasons.

Cost – For a movie theatre to show open captions either means a second copy of the movie itself that contains open captions or a second projector that overlays the captions right there on the screen. Both options are not cheap for the theatre.

Complaints From Hearing People – This part is what I’m most upset about. Years ago, Marcus Theatres used to show open captions for ONE or TWO titles each week among the dozens of titles that they run in their line up. The open captioning showings would usually only be one or two showings among the 4 or 5 regular showings a few days a week. And yet – hearing people were bitching that they had to put up with the captions on the screen and did not want to have to see them even though there were plenty of other showings WITHOUT captions. Their voices were heard and Marcus stopped showing open captions since.

I will talk about the lack of open captioning in movie theatres another time, but for now, let’s get back to the Captiview. I’m not entirely sold on it. I don’t think I’ll go back to the theatre to watch a closed captioned movie with the device. I would just wait for the DVD to come out and watch it at home.

But if a group of friends want to get together for a movie or if there is a movie that I must see like right now and cannot wait for the DVD to come out, then yeah, I’ll give it another shot.

However, not every theatre has the Captiview device. The Phoenix and Mariner theatres in my hometown of Marinette, Wisconsin do not have the Captiview devices. So if I want to go to the theatre, I have to make the one hour drive to Green Bay to see the movie. Check with your local theatre to find out if the Captiview device is available there or look for one in your surrounding area that is a short drive away like I did when I made the one hour drive to Green Bay.

To sum it up, my overall review of this device is mixed. On one hand, it did its job providing captions for the movie. On the other hand, having to constantly refocus my eyes between the device and the screen was a downer. Overall, I’ll give this review 3 out of 5 stars.

It seems like the majority of the negative reviews that I’ve seen regarding the device is that it wouldn’t work properly or not at all. That’s on the theatre, not the device itself. The theatre needs to make sure the device works properly. When it does, I think it is a good device for watching a movie in the theatre if you are willing to keep refocusing your eyes from the device to the screen and back. But I wouldn’t go to the movies all the time.

Any questions or comments, post a comment or send a message to my Facebook page.  Until then, stay tuned 🙂

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