Scott Hanselman

Plex is the media center software ecosystem I've been waiting for

January 30, '13 Comments [51] Posted in Musings
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Example Plex UI showing a MovieI've blogged about my Synology 1511+ NAS before and how I have added a few things to it like CrashPlan Cloud Backup and even discussed it on my podcast. When you have a headless server in your home, you're always looking for ways to utilize it.

I've long had shares like \\server\movies and \\server\photos for accessing family files from laptops around the house, as well as streaming home videos to the Xbox or PS3 via DLNA. I talk about how I streamed things in 2008 in this "Geek Developer Cribs" video.

More recently, I've tried using a Raspberry Pi as an ersatz media player along with AirPlay to throw videos from my iPhone/iPad up on the big screen.

Fast forward to 2013 and I've found Plex. It's amazing.

*pause for gravitas*

Plex is a whole ecosystem that is extremely polished, easy to setup and available on every device you'd ever want.

There are two main heavyweights in the media server space. Plex and XBMC. I've used both extensively. Plex is starting to monetize their platform while XBMC has more of a hacker/enthusiast vibe. You can accomplish most all you'd ever want with both, but at this point in my life, I'm OK with throwing a little money at the problem and I have happily given Plex my $30 for their UI polish and their new PlexPass feature that unlocks some goodies. I'm totally happy to pay a company for value and Plex provides extreme value. I'm choosing Plex.

What's Plex and Why?

So what is it? Plex is media server software that you have running all the time at home. Then, Plex is client (or clients) on your device (or devices) that you run to access your stored media. Most importantly, the killer feature is that Plex will transcode your videos depending on your device and network. That means that Plex will use the power of your server at home to dynamically squish videos so that they still play smoothly on your smart phone over 3G or your tablet over hotel Wi-Fi.

You install the Plex server on any system you have. You can run it on Windows, Mac, Linux, but that's not all. You can also put Plex on your Network Attached Storage appliance (NAS) like I have with my Synology. (For Synology systems, I strongly recommend a faster Intel machine, not the little ARM ones.)

Plex will also get art, descriptions, and generate thumbnails for your media. You might think this is a little thing but it really makes your whole setup feel more pro. It's also very clever. All you need to do is name something "title (year).ext" for movies and "show name/whatever SxEy.ext" (where x and y are season and episode) and Plex does the rest.

Plex Clients

There are Plex clients for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 phones, as well as for Windows 8 and Surface. On other Macs or PCs you can use Plex Media Center, and there's also Plex for Roku, LG TVs, Samsung TVs, and Google TV. It's magical.

Here's an example screenshot of the Plex Windows 8 client:

Plex example on a Microsoft Surface RT with Windows 8

Here's the VERY competent and recently updated web client. You can see my home movies in there with a Year filter. Here's a fishing trip from 2010.

Plex for Home Movies

Plex keeps track of the devices that have accessed your library. You can see some of my devices below.

Plex has a list of devices atached

Here's my home movies via the Plex iPhone app on the left, and an example screenshot showing movies on the right. You can add other "channels" for web video like CNN, Funny or Die, and more. There's even a bookmarklet you can put in your browser toolbar to add video to your queue for later. Great for those long Vimeo documentaries you'll never watch.

Plex Libraries on iPhone Plex movies on iPhone

The PlexPass I bought adds a feature called PlexSync that squishes content on the server then transfers the custom-transcoded result to your device for offline viewing. Super useful for airplanes and offline viewing.

Accessing Media Remotely with Plex

Plex really shines when you can access all your media from a hotel on your tablet. Forward a port, publish your server with your Plex username and you're set, in theory.

Port Forwarding is a hassle, but it's part of life if you want to really exploit your home internet connection. If you can successfully forward a port (or if Plex and use UPnP to ask your router to forward it for you) then you may be able to access your home movies from afar!

Once you've logged into the MyPlex service with your username, it will keep track of your servers and devices and let you access them when you're not on your home network (not on the same subnet.)

Plex with a port forwarded

I have an Actiontec Router, so be aware that every router is different, but the general idea is that you've got a Plex server running INSIDE your house and listening (always) on port 32400. That port - inside the house - never changes. What you want to do is to "forward" that port to some other port on the outside.

Here's what my Port Forwarding rule looks like in the list of rules. Note that this is a little confusing because I thought the arrow would point the other way, but the you would read this as "port 32400 on 192.168.1.18 is available outside at port 11366."

image

If you have trouble with high numbered ports, as I've heard some folks had, try mixing it up and be patient. None of the ports over 30000 worked for me but a lower number (not too low!) did work. Here's the form I filled out on my Router's admin page. Your mileage may vary, again.

Your settings are generally:

  • Source Ports, ANY.
  • Destination Ports, *the number you picked or that Plex picked for you*
  • Forward to Port, always 32400

A common mistake is putting your custom port number in source or destination. Remember that "Source Port" is their port, not yours.

image

Again, for lucky folks with new routers, Plex will handle all this hole punching for you. It not, open two browsers, one for Plex and one for your router and try different values. Plex will let you know when it's "published" your server. The MyPlex service will then associate your user name with your home's IP address and port, allowing you to access your home movies when elsewhere.

Conclusion

I really think Plex is something special and I encourage you to think about how Plex could become a part of your media server solution. I am not affliated with Plex in any way. I just think they are the cat's pajamas.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:46:11 AM UTC
Is Windows Media Centre dead? It has such potential!
Chris
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 2:43:06 AM UTC
Plex is sweet - I like their web client capability too - made it easy to use even a Wii U to stream plex movies.

I'ved used Plex to hook up iPad to Apple TV prior to the Wii U/Roku setups.

Now I just need to figure out how to interface it to my iPhoto collection :)
Steve
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:20:20 AM UTC
For those in the US(I assume?), plex has channels for all major broadcast networks (ABC/NBC/ect). It will stream recent episodes of TV shows for most channels/shows.

Add Channel -> More -> Foreigne (Region-Restrictions) Plugins

I also 2nd everything here. Plex is that good.
Tony
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:29:48 AM UTC
Yes, Plex is awesome. Now can someone convince them to make their Windows version of the Plex Media Server install and run as a Windows Service instead of being a system tray app (where you need to log in to run it)? Just sayin'...
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:01:31 AM UTC
You should mention that you can use one device, like a smart phone, to search for media then throw it over to another, like your tv, to watch. Really handy
Sam
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:04:22 AM UTC
Plex Server is awesome... but don't miss the Plex It bookmarklet that basically provides an "instapaper" like feaature for videos. Just click to Plext It bookmakrlet when there is a video you want to watch later. Then, later fire up any of the Plex clients, sign into MyPlex and you will have a queue... which allows you to watch those videos at your leasiure.

BOb
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:20:33 AM UTC
"DLNA" -en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Living_Network_Alliance
Hassan
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:24:36 AM UTC
The one thing that seems to be missing is live TV. That's where MediaPortal comes in (www.team-mediaportal.com). It's an open source Media Centre application which as well as movies, music, photos etc. also has a TV Server component which uses a TV tuner to stream live TV and your TV recordings. Its also extended with plugins to do many other things including access many many online video sources.

MediaPortal however lacks the client coverage of Plex, there are clients for Windows, iOS and Android sadly not for Windows Phone (yet). I suppose it comes down to what you want to do, for me its getting TV onto client devices.
Martin van der Boon
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:33:22 AM UTC
Thumbs Up. I currently have Plex server running on WIndows Server 2012. I stream with 2 WD TV Live boxes and 1 Roku2 XS. The Roku is a great/cheap streamer. Highly recommended to anyone wanting to use on the fly transcoding over a wireless network. The WD TV live boxes (any model) take advantage of all the sorting categories from the server (Recently Added, Released, etc). If you hard wired, WD boxes will play any format/size directly without a hitch. I just wish WD would make a native Plex app...
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:05:43 AM UTC
Love Plex. I also run it on a jailbroken Apple TV2. BEST part is the Channels feature is smart enough to re-direct to Canadian streams and had Canadian channels, too. Have not seen any region-blocking at all on any Plex channels.
Mark
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:48:55 AM UTC
Download XBMC (xbmc.org) which is the base of Plex.

Gio
Gio
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:53:44 AM UTC
That does sound good, but the Synology Diskstation 4.1 seems to already provide most if not all of that functionality? The PhotoStation, MusicStation and VideoStation apps, which are also available for all mobile platforms, allow easy access to your media from anywhere on any device and the NAS itself (even the lower power ARM devices like I have) does all the same transcoding and converting of videos to the various formats for viewing on different devices.

Can't see the need for any other 3rd party software as really can't fault the Synology apps! I do use Raspbmc on my Pi as a front-end for my TV at home, but the NAS does all the work!
Adam C
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:55:54 AM UTC
You dont need too setup port forwarding in order to view your Plex content outside your home

Just let your Plex server login to the myplex service and do the same on your Plex client.
Andreas Wennborg
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:28:14 AM UTC
Andreas - As I mentioned in the post, that works great when it works. In my case the port forwarding failed and I had to set it up manually.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:57:39 AM UTC
Maybe I have configured something wrong, but my out of the box experience with full HD movies was not so good. Loading is slow, playback is crashing. As with Media Centre, graphic card is not utilized. Dedicated application provided with Samsung TV works much better for me. Shares folder content, but rendering is done on TV with internal decoder. Works faster and doesn't spike processor usage on server (which doubles as my main workstation too).
Zbigniew
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 9:13:13 AM UTC
I love my "Syno". It's strange you mention this Plex now that a very similar functionality has been added in the DSM 4.2 beta Video Station. It even records DBVT if you plug a compatible USB receiver. It also enriches your movies "à la Plex" with a synopsis and movie poster.
Reading your post I nearly thought that the new package WAS Plex. See http://www.synology.com/dsm/dsm4.2_beta.php
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:46:57 PM UTC
Scott I think you need to mention XBMC considering much of the fundamental Plex code is based on XBMC (Plex is a fork of XBMC). Also it's hilarious considering you work for Microsoft and XBMC was on the forefront of hacking and exploiting the original Xbox to create a media center solution.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:18:17 PM UTC
I can second this recommendation. I recently switched from XBMC to Plex. The experience is much more polished and very well integrated between devices. I love being able to start watching a movie on my desktop computer and seamlessly resume from my iPad.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:22:09 PM UTC
I really, really want to implement Plex but their lack of Windows Service is a show stopper for me.

I have a WHS 2011 box which is ideal to serve content from, but currently Plex requires a user to be logged in which is far from ideal and breaks the basic premise of WHS!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:26:41 PM UTC
Plex was a revelation for me when I discover it during the Hopidays.
I want to know how are you do to get your TV shows automaticly name ending with SxEy?
Are you recording from a PC?
Regards
Frank
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:27:22 PM UTC
Now if MS would get their heads out of their a$$es and support something other than what a 10 year old device (xbox 360) supports so that we could really use it in the home theater life would be great, but of course MS thinks that the LAME media capabilities of Windows 8 RT is just wonderful thanks.

1. No MKV support. Sorry MS but this FREE standard that wouldn't cost you a penny is not optional and is causing massive issues with Plex for Windows 8 because of the major issues in streaming support with Windows 8 and the need to waste power and trans-code all of your MKV files (which everyone uses for ripping (legally) their Blu-ray discs)

2. No HD audio support. You can't bit-stream DTS, DTS-HD, or TrueHD to a compatible receiver. It wouldn't cost MS a penny to implement bit-streaming because they're not decoding, but no, doesn't support it.

3. Hint MS: MP4/M4V SUCKS. It's a bad standard from the only company that used to be able to get away with only supporting bad standards: Apple. It has no official support for HD Audio among other things. (In theory it supports them, but it's currently impossible to encode HD audio into it, and it's subtitle support is AWEFUL.)

4. If you encode an mp4 with HD audio/dts or anything else, Windows 8 RT will insist on trying to play that audio track in the m4v file even though it can't play it, and there is another track also encoded that it can't play. DUH.

5. Oops MS forgot to give direct control over the play/pause, ff, rew, 30 skip, 6 sec review, back/forward and menu buttons ON THEIR OWN EHOME remote and keyboard standard!!!! So much for controlling your device from your couch.

6. NO MPEG2 decoding support unless you install Media Center, so you can't use the new DLNA support built into HD Homerun Primes for live TV.

7. No DTCP support for encrypted channel viewing and recording.

8. The native music player in Windows 8 PLAYS ADS WHILE YOU'RE PLAYING YOUR OWN MUSIC!!!!!!! Seriously? You can't even get it to rate songs, but you can put ads in to nag me for a $9.99 / month subscription that I don't want nor need???? It also nags you once an hour asking if you're still there and tells you that if you pay it won't do this. There is a name for that type of software: RANSOMWARE. MS you should be ashamed of yourself.


All things that a new OS that is cutting edge should support/not do. Instead it supports far less than Windows XP that is now 12 years old and puts advertising all over the place!!!!

In sum MS needs to immediately:

1. Rescind that stupid blog post by Sinofky and admit that Windows 8 RT's video and audio playback SUCKS. (just ask every developer of Media apps in Windows 8, they'll tell you the truth, including the guy that wrote the Plex app. His words: "Windows 8, for developers, is a good beta. We would get at least 1 more star in our rating which would result in significantly more revenue if MS would simply support standards like MKV etc." (and then read the ratings on most of the media apps in the store, and you'll see that without fail they're all complaining about the same things that I've listed here.
2. Do an auto-offer for a $10 upgrade whenever anyone tries to play, MKV (you should just add this for free, because there is no licencing required and thus no cost to MS), HD audio (again, no cost), or MPEG2 video that will automatically install Media Foundation stuff to FULLY support these. People will pay money for this support for their home theater rig.
3. Support DTCP copy protection viewing natively so that every media app can view it on the device. MS needs to implement this in the core of the OS.
4. Support DTCP for recording, both in Windows 8 RT, and in native Windows apps so that a service can be installed on Windows 2012 essentials or Windows 8 for doing PVR functionality.
5. Publicly apologize to everyone for the ads and nagware in the native Music app and pull that crap out immediately. If you want to have a free streaming service that is ad supported, fine, but when someone is playing their own music, DON'T YOU DARE RANSOM MY COMPUTER THAT I PAID FULL POP FOR. This is NOT AN XBOX AND IF YOU TRY AND MAKE IT INTO ONE, YOU'LL LOSE ME AND EVERYONE ELSE TO APPLE AND I'LL STOP DEVELOPING FOR WINDOWS.

M$ has a very very very narrow window to get this right and support the ecosystem of apps like Plex et. al. on Windows 8 and beat apple to the punch. They need to be working feverishly on this, and tell us that they're doing so and that they're going to fix this stuff. Windows 8 has the potential to OWN THE LIVING ROOM if done right.

MS needs to be releasing a Windows RT set top box with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and a few others pre installed, and have it support native live tv and require that all apps in the multimedia category natively support remote controls.

They need to release a cube that can have stackable hard drives put on that does RAID automatically and finds all of the channels for whatever tuner his hooked up, or DTCP devices on the network, and provides guide information to the set top box and will simply work as a media storage device and PVR functionality. (and give the set top box an easy remote controlled interface to control the basic settings of the cube)

Thus every home could drop in a server cube with however many drives, and a tuner snapped onto it if necessary, and then as many $99 set top boxes with everything people want and VOLIA, they own the home.

Surface TV
Surface Home Cube

If don't right, MS kills Apple and gets everyone doing the interactive TV thing without any hard work. The problem with Media Center was that it was too hard to get working. But when it worked, it worked GREAT. MS has the chance to make this so brain-dead simple that even grandma can put one of these in their house and volia you're done! (or get the cable companies to do the install for you and share in the revenue)

But instead they're going to opposite direction and anoying their customers and lying to them and denying there is a problem.

*HEAD SHAKE*
James Hancock
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:01:20 PM UTC
Scott, for your Raspberry Pi running Raspbmc, you can access your Plex server using an XBMC plugin called PleXBMC. There is also a custom PlexBMC skin for XMBC that smoothens the experience.
There is also an experimental native Plex client for Rpi in the works!

Chris
Chris
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 4:44:53 PM UTC
I'm hoping Plex will support DLNA-IP in the future. This way, i can stream encrypted cable channels via HDHomeRun (network attached cable tuner) and get rid of the cable boxes!
Rich Nahra
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 4:53:30 PM UTC
I am really curious why you ditched your Windows Home Server for this Synology NAS. Did you ever go into that in a blog post or podcast?
Jeff
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 4:55:16 PM UTC
Sorry, nevermind. Found it here: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ABasicNoncloudbasedPersonalBackupStrategy.aspx
Jeff
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:09:05 PM UTC
Wow James, that's a blogpost's worth of feedback in itself. I hope Scott is able to make something happen MS-side, but it's a big ship to change course like that. I would expect more of an extension to the XBOX 360.

To those complaining about Plex not being a service: it's do-able with a bit of tweaking (for $50 or for free).

Also, be careful you don't wind up accidentally exposing UPnP to the outside world, or you're gonna have a bad time.
Jed
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:25:41 PM UTC
Jed

"Its do-able with a bit of tweaking" kind of stuffs much of the forging "isn't it wonderful".

If it ran, properly, as a service it would be installed on the domestic server and I'd be happily paying for extras but it doesn't so I've gone elsewhere.

It *is* an impressive system - so missing what more than a few of us regard as a fairly basic/fundamental feature seems a really strange omission.

Murph

James Murphy
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:42:41 PM UTC
@James Hancock

I looked up playing ads for my own music in Windows 8 - talk about hating your own customers! Music app plays ads when I skip songs in my own library

@James Murphy

I agree making Plex run as a service using some utility program doesn't make sense; I just wanted to make sure people who didn't know it was possible weren't left in the cold. I've hated iTunes Home Sharing for a long time for the same reason.
Jed
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:56:08 PM UTC
Scott, you've got me looking at upgrading my NAS to a Synology device. Since my home server recently bit the dust and I'm migrating its tasks (web / email mainly) to Azure, I think I could use a smarter NAS than the one I've got to handle file storage / media server duties. I was wondering, though, does it support dynamically adding / upgrading disks on the fly, like Windows 8's Storage Spaces does (I'm assuming you'd have to use their SHR format if this is possible)?

James, you had me until "M$", which I always take as a cue to stop reading, but I do agree that MKV support should have been there out of the box. (Was it perhaps left out so that the media companies wouldn't shy away from Microsoft when negotiating for their XBox music and video services? It would be a little silly, but a possible explanation.)
Mike C
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:18:16 PM UTC
Mike: M$ is very apt. They're putting ads in my own music collection when I play them and ransoming playing said music in exchange for an xbox music pass. Meanwhile the app still won't rate music or do half of the semi-rational things that every music player for 15 years has allowed you to do.

Thus MS is chasing $$$$$$$$$$ which is why I did so.

MKV is a format. It doesn't have copy protected stuff in it and thus is silly for anyone to be against (WebM is actually a subset of MKV folks!). This is MS being lazy just like the xbox that still can't support > 5.1 DD sound while the rest of the world can do 7.1 no problem.

And the worst part was Sinofky's blog telling us that Windows 8 has wonderful multimedia capabilities. They're crap from 2003. Let's get with the program MS, or you're going to end up killed by Google and Apple because Google will provide what any semi-knowledgeable person will want, and Apple will make it way easier and more elegant than MS can for the people that don't want to know anything and just happily pay for everything that they already own.

There is no room for a middle ground between the two anymore. MS's only hope for long term survival is to provide all of the geek functionality of Google while doing it in an ultra-simple way like Apple. Windows 8 has the lipstick but the rest of the pig got left at the slaughter house and only Apple can afford to do that and get away with it.
James Hancock
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:29:06 PM UTC
And might I add:

We're talking about:

1. Remove the stupid ads from your own music collection and stop the ransomware. (Should take them about 10 seconds to get the crap out that they put in.)
2. Add a MKV Media Foundation splitter that all media apps can access. (Free of charge to MS and probably less than 2 weeks for a dev that knows Media foundation)
3. Add a prompt when you attempt to play MPEG2 video to upsell and instantly make available to all apps the existing Media Foundation splitter/decoder that already works if you have Media Center installed. Make it an inapp purchase and instant without having to get cd keys etc. etc. etc.
4. Add Media Foundation streamers for HD audio if a supported device (HDMI or Displayport) is hooked up. If not, popup and tell the user that the audio stream requires HDMI/Displayport and a supported receiver. (and hide all audio streams from all players that the current Audio device doesn't support)
5. Fix the m4v implementation so that it will automatically choose an audio stream that Windows 8 supports given the hardware that is attached.


And for the future:

6. Add DTCP copy protection support to DLNA. (which again is a media foundation codec)

The first 5 MIGHT take a month of a single C++ Media Foundation expert to add and puts MS in set top boxes overnight. (Can you say a plex set-top box with Windows RT, Netflix and Hulu preinstalled from a 3rd party???)

By default MS would automatically get any serious Set top box user because the others are all lame ducks. For 1 developer for a month and in a week they could fix MKV and release an update to Windows on the next patch Tuesday and then release the other stuff over the next 2 months even.

We're not talking about massive, expensive development. The most expensive part is the MPEG2 decoder that they've already written and simply requires licencing by MS which they can pass on to the customer if they do it right and automatically. Everything else is FREE. MKV doesn't even require that the project be open source to use it, nor does bitstreaming HD audio because you're not decoding it.

Com'on MS. This is so easy for you to fix and make right and make Windows 8 the premiere platform for multi-media it isn't funny. Do the right thing and get someone on this ASAP and acknowledge the problems and tell people how you're going to fix it. You'll win converts just for being honest.
James Hancock
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:51:56 PM UTC
Good suggestions, James. It did take Microsoft some time to add Xvid support, but they eventually did it, so I do see native MKV support as an eventuality. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

At least with Windows "Blue" and their proposed accelerated release schedule we can hope that Microsoft can provide a quick turnaround for enhancements like this.

As an aside, I was hoping that they could have included the MPEG decoder in the Win8 upgrade version with the argument that a Win7 user was already licensed to use it. This didn't happen, but at least the Win8 Media license is still free until Friday.
Mike C
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 9:21:16 PM UTC
I understand why they didn't. MPEG2 licencing costs and they're already including h264 which has licencing costs. I'm fine with it not having it without an up-sell. (and you can get it to play them in Win 8 Modern Apps by adding Media Center and then all modern apps are now able to play mpeg2 streams btw, it just should be automatic and easy for the end user to do it and only have it install the media foundation stuff that is required.

The rest is free, and inexcusable and they should be at least telling us that Windows Blue is going to have this stuff instead of claiming that it's fine the way it is.
James Hancock
Thursday, January 31, 2013 12:19:44 AM UTC
Hi Scott,

I've considered getting the ReadyNAS Ultra 6 from Netgear and installing Plex onto it for a while now however there have been many forums talking about how the performance of any NAS is not quite there to serve up 1080p etc.

What have been your experiences?

Currently I run Plex from my PC and have the Samsung client installed on my TV, this all runs extremely well. My one complaint is that it doesn't "Un-Rar" files on the fly like XBMC does. Which means I have to manually extract all my rar files after they download. Along with being slightly annoying, it also fills up the disk space quicker.

Like yourself, I'm very happy to spend $30, $40, or even more to have all this integrated!

-Thwaitesy
Sam
Sunday, February 03, 2013 6:03:08 AM UTC
The problem with Synology is they lack the CPU beefcake to trans-code.

And I 100% agree with Mr. Hancock. The media capabilities in Win8 are a shadow of what we had in 7 and the throwing under the bus of Media Center is baffling.

That aside: Plex is awesome. I even hooked my RT to the big TV and it worked. Kind of. No 5.1 anyting. But it worked as soon as I switched it to 1080p.
Ian
Sunday, February 03, 2013 6:12:19 AM UTC
Forgot to add: their (Plex) lack of a metadata solution for WTV files really blows. Plex can play my TV just fine, but it's a crappy browsing experience on the WinRT slab.
Ian
Monday, February 04, 2013 4:20:06 PM UTC
How do you handle your existing DVD collection in a Plex universe?

Do you just rip them in a really high quality format with Handbrake first or does Plex have something to help this process along too?
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 9:59:15 PM UTC
I just tried out Plex based on this write up, hadn't heard of it before. Certainly a pretty UI - Twitter Bootstrap if I'm not mistaken...

While it's nice, have you had a look at J River Media Center?

While it's not free, it's not expensive - and it does everything that Plex does - and a WHOLE heap more (hmm ratings as an input box..?)

Just a thought.

Disclaimer: I am in no way related to J River, just a very happy user...
Grant DG
Friday, February 22, 2013 7:04:08 PM UTC
I wanted to believe you but after playing with it for a few weeks, I cannot get any streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) to play, and their forums are full of others experiencing the same issue with absolutely NO input from the developers or Plex offering any kind of interest, let alone a solution.

Believe me when I say I WANT to pay someone for a solid working PC media center. But Plex clearly isn't the one for me.
Thursday, March 14, 2013 8:24:52 PM UTC
I second you Scott, plex is awesome, I have a plex media server running at home and I love it, I just think it’s worth mentioning that you can share your media server with anyone with an email address and once the person gets a plex account is he able to see your collection. My brother keeps on travelling around the world and never gets time to setup his own stuff so I share my media server with him and he loves it.

~Melroy
Melroy
Saturday, March 16, 2013 10:26:02 PM UTC
Plex is nice for running local files: Video, music, etc., but it's applications need a lot of work. Netflix, Hulu, Pandora... Most applications don't work and Plex doesn't seem to care about making them work or helping users.

For instance, Netlfix loads from my clients, but all videos buffer every 10 seconds or so (never buffers in a browser after first loading. I have 18Mb/s Internet) and when it's playing, it is double normal speed.
TE5LA
Sunday, March 17, 2013 10:47:34 AM UTC
Hi there.i
I have been using Plex for the last two years....I have it running the media centre software on an iMac upstairs in the computer room this is hard wired via cat 5 to a mac mini. Running the client downstairs, the mac mini has a ssd drive which boots in seconds and I have a stripped version of osx on it, the whole thing is then piped to my Epsom projector via its 1080 wireless link...the audio goes to a thx onkyo av receiver ....thanks to plex the whole thing looks slick and polished with access to my complete media collection both movies and tv....awesome work from the developers at plex..
Harold Sykes
Thursday, April 25, 2013 5:58:31 AM UTC
Can you elaborate on your recommendation of the Intel over the ARM synology? They are so pricey, and the DS213 seems like a decent fit for me. Although, I'm worried about whether I might need to transcode local media while streaming to Roku 3 for example. Is transcoding the primary reason to go Intel? Thanks!
Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:15:31 AM UTC
Mat - Yes, Intel has the power to transcode on the fly and Arm just doesn't.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013 8:30:35 PM UTC
Scott - I'm not sure I clearly understood the last part of your article, where you said if you're "lucky enough to have a new router, Plex will do the hole-punching for you". Did you mean that the Plex feature where you can "publish" your plex server does the port-forwarding (ie, hole punching) for you?

In my case, Plex has not been able to "publish" my plex server in my myplex account. I can watch Plex like I'm in heaven at home - where I guess I don't need port forwarding - but when I'm in a hotel, my Roku box can't see my Plex server at home. Do I need to do manual port forwarding? If so, can you point me to a noob guide to get this done for Plex?
Chris
Monday, June 24, 2013 6:59:21 PM UTC
It's funny reading the comments. I recently switched from Plex to XBMC and I haven't looked back since :)
thisone
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 2:36:16 PM UTC
I am planning to make a neat little ipad centered living room setup and all my movies are in .mkv format. This will come handy
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 3:21:13 AM UTC
Can I use a synology for a iTunes server. I would like my ATV play purchase movies or does iTunes need to run a computer to do that
Rob
Sunday, August 11, 2013 3:14:42 PM UTC
Plex for me is a breakthrough. I have lots of movie files and this is the first time I have found a media server software bundle to run on my QNAP NAS device that will do a half decent job of downloading, labelling etc. all of my collection. It's wonderful. I have not been able to get my QNAP NAS twonkey application to do any of that. My one complaint, is that with twonkey, playing the movie either from my home computer or my WDTV media server is instant, but when selecting Plex media server from the WDTV media box, or even from the computer, playing a movie requires a lot of time for it to be "downloading" it first. Obviously, if I'm playing this at home, downloading should not be necessary. Can anybody please tell me how to fix this? Thanks

Mike
Mike
Sunday, September 01, 2013 1:56:01 AM UTC
hi
was good but were to download plex media server
thanks
sam
Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:53:38 AM UTC
Plex is amazing. I consider it one of the most important pieces of software I've discovered in the last 5 years or so. Before Plex, getting my media to my devices was a hassle, and streaming something to my TV involved using PS3MediaServer, which was a pain. Now It's almost magical the way all my stuff is available everywhere, even when I'm abroad.

Some people here keep talking about XMBC but I think they're missing the point. What sets Plex apart is not just the fact that you can stream your content to your TV and all your other devices (in my case, several computers, 2 iPhones an iPad and a Roku), but the fact that your media can go with you, outside of your home. XMBC is great if its installed on an HTPC, but Plex can be run from any computer on your network or from a server or NAS. The key word here is "transcoding" and once you tweak all your settings both on the Media Server and on all your devices then playback is extremely smooth.

I also share my Plex server with a couple of people, and the best part is that you can set exactly what sections you want them to have access too, so you can share your movies and not share your home videos. Its Perfect.

I highly recommend it also. :)
KabutoCub
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.