SpiritClips streams family-friendly movies to your phone or tablet

Also your PC and Roku box. Think of this Hallmark-powered service as a kind of PG-rated Netflix.

SpiritClips for iOS.
SpiritClips for iOS. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Sometimes I feel like I'm losing the fight to protect my kids from bad language, extreme violence, and the other inappropriate content that crops up in a lot of today's movies. And because they know how to access the Netflix account, it's increasingly hard to filter out the stuff I don't think they're ready for.

SpiritClips, recently acquired by Hallmark, offers a selection of family-friendly movies, documentaries, and shorts for streaming to Android devices, iOS devices, PCs, and various media boxes (namely Boxee, Roku, and NeoTV). It's an interesting Hulu/Netflix alternative, one that should appeal to families seeking more wholesome entertainment.

The service offers a hand-picked collection of Hollywood classics, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies (which, incidentally, are available exclusively here), SpiritClips Original short films, and documentaries.

The Hollywood lineup include some real gems: "Fly Away Home," "Hope and Glory," "Life is Beautiful" (though I have qualms about calling that one "family-friendly"), and "Rudy," to name a few. Although some selections are already available on Netflix, SpiritClips edits them so they have the equivalent of a PG rating (if they didn't already). That's how they're able to include the excellent "Good Will Hunting," which has more than its share of four-letter words.

I especially like some of the animated shorts you can find here, including Academy Award winners like "Head Over Heels" and "The Lost Thing."

I tested SpiritClips on an AT&T iPhone 4S and Verizon Galaxy S4. It worked fine on the former, but the Android app (which hasn't been updated since January) seemed ill-fitted to the S4's screen, like it was slightly zoomed for some reason. Thus it was difficult to access various menus and buttons. What's more, it lacks a search option, and doesn't offer all the same content as the iOS version. According to a company rep, an Android update is in the works.

SpiritClips costs $4.99 per month, which seems a little steep when you consider that Netflix provides an exponentially larger library for $7.99. However, if you prepay for a year, the cost drops to $35.99, or $2.99 per month -- about what you'd pay for a single DVD rental from your local video store.

Ultimately, the service gives you a nice helping of movies you can watch with the whole family, without concerns about inappropriate language, violence, or sexual content. If you're not quite sold, you can test-drive SpiritClips free for a week. Then hit the comments and let me know what you think.

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About the author

Rick Broida has written about business and consumer technology for nearly 25 years. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including "The Cheapskate Rules: 21 Easy Money-Saving Tech Secrets." He also writes for CNET's iPhone Atlas and How-To blogs.

 

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