First of all before you even read this article do yourself a favor and go to www.plexapp.com and download and setup everything they have for every device you have if you currently store your movies in digital format on a hard drive (or DLNA sever) and stream them to your television. Seriously, don’t even bother reading this, we are wasting your time.
Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, for those of you who are stubborn and have continued to read even though I warned you that reading this is just a waste of your time because the folks at PlexApp.com have the “good good”… well.. you’ve been warned, on with the time wasting.
So what does Plex do exactly?
(For the love of all that is HOLY and PURE LEAVE THIS SITE NOW AND GO DOWNLOAD THIS APP!) Oh sorry… went off on a tangent.
For real though, it is that awesome. So it’s a media server that will serve up Movies, Music and Photos to almost any device you have that is connected to the internet or your home network. It works INCREDIBLY well, is stable as all get out, and the UI (user interface) is what can only be described as beautiful…. like the way Apple does design Beautiful with a capital B. Gorgeous. It’s minimalistic, yet feature rich… and did I mention it just works?
So here’s the deal. You have a NAS Box, or a Computer and you have either a bunch of movies, home movies, photos, music, etc… on it. You want to stream that to your Television so you don’t have to look for bluray’s, but you also want to be able to show people your kids pics when you are on the road (think wallet pics only gigs of them whenever you want them). Maybe you want to stream your whole music collection in the car through your car radio. Or perhaps you want to be able to stream your movies to your car so you don’t have to keep 10,000 dvd/blurays in the car for the kids so they will SHUT UP AND LET YOU CONTINUE BEING SANE while you drive.
Plex does all that, while eating ice cream, laying down on the couch like… like a lazy cat that knows way more than you do and can some how talk, yawn, and let you know what a boob you are.
So the way it works is you download the plex on your desktop selection, install it and then tell plex where your movie library, music library, and photo library is. That’s it. If you are like me and use various programs like CloneDVD to copy all your bluray and dvd movies to your hard drive, then handbrake and make mkv to convert them to MKV format you will love it. For a few reasons. I do the copying part because I don’t like to buy a movie more than once and discs break, get scratched, and I’m going to protect my investment. Two, I don’t like to go hunting for a movie, I like to click it and watch it.
Plex will recognize names of movies, and go ahead and download the cover art automatically, along with synopsis info, and a bunch of other stuff. It will categorize everything into neat and orderly virtual folders so you can do things like look at movies by director, author, actor, decade, newly added, highest rating, last seen.
What is even more incredible is say you are watching a movie while you are waiting for the plane in the airport and they call you to board. You can stop it, get on to the plane, fly to your destination, then when you get home you can say “oh jeez I forgot to watch the rest of that movie” go over to the television (an entirely different device), select the movie, and it will ask you if you want to start at the point you left off. It’s amazing.
Everything just “makes sense” with the UI. There is very little to discover or read in order to get things going. If you have had any kind of experience with these types of applications you can really appreciate how well done Plex is.
If you own an LG television like the one we reviewed a year or so ago you have full integration built in. Any of the newer smart televisions will work with Plex regardless because it is DLNA compliant. The only real thing that needs to happen for Plex to be a super power is for them to get together with the folks that make Playon and built a super set of functionality involving Netflix, Various other Channel integration because at the end of the day after using Plex I don’t want to suffer through using a Netflix app, or a hulu app, or any other app. I just want to use Plex because it works and it’s beautiful. Did I mention you wasted your time? What are you waiting for? Go get it, you can use it free, and if you want some premium features you can get the plex pass. The premium features give you PlexSync and MultiUser support. You also get access to new features before they come out. It’s well worth the price of $74.99 for a lifetime subscription. They also offer a $3.99 monthly price, and a $29.99 yearly price. The multiuser part is slick, I added my son’s email address to my setup and now he and his girlfriend can watch movies we have on my server from their apartment. He can see our family photos as they grow, and even listen to some of his old man’s music :p
Digital streaming content that you store on your computer and stream directly from providers over the Internet is going to replace traditional sources like Cable/Satellite Providers and over the air networks in the next 5-10 years. Plex is way ahead of its time and doing things well. Get in on the ground floor and spend the $74.99 you won’t be sorry you did it when everyone is paying $500 a year by then with no lifetime options (Still big savings over Cable for a 12 month period).