Ruin The assorted ramblings of Brendan Tobolaski

plex

Iʼve heard great things about Plex but, Iʼve stubbornly holding out on trying it. I finally got around to trying it and, as with many things, I shouldnʼt have held out quite so long. Plex is a glorious experience. My wife has a huge collection of Movies and TV shows on DVDs and Blu-Ray. Iʼm sure that she remembers what we own and where to locate them but, I donʼt. With Plex, I’m able to easily look through all of our movies and shows.

Most of Plexʼs power comes from its server. The server gets setup on a computer that you plan to leave running all of the time. The only real constraints should are that it should have a good amount of disk space and preferably a decent processor. Plex handles a large variety of files but, it doesnʼt mean that your device can play it. Plex will transcode the media if your device isnʼt capable of playing it. This can be a pretty cpu intensive task if its If you’re in control of converting the media files, you should be able to avoid any transcoding by picking a good storage format.

This server feeds a wide variety of clients. The most generic of which is that the Plex server is a DLNA server. This means that you might have a number of clients that can watch Plex content already. My television happens to have a DLNA client on it, meaning that I can simply turn on my tv and start watching. I donʼt do that though, mainly due to the sorry state of the DNLA client. Plex has a number of clients for different media platforms. The one that I most frequently use is the Apple TV. The Apple TV app is pretty workable but, I find the navigation to be a bit clunky. Itʼs also annoying that you can’t ask Siri to play any of the media in Plex but, that comes down to Apple not providing 3rd parties with a way to integrate with Siri.

The interface seems quite obvious. It presents as a rows of movie posters or DVD covers. Itʼs somewhat reminiscent of Netflixʼs interface, without the strange scrolling. Itʼs a workable interface although, it is unoriginal. What Plex amounts to is a version of Netflix filled with only those movies that you own or somehow acquired (ahem). For some people, that will be completely worthless. For those people with an extensive collection, Plex can be revolutionary. Suddenly, you have your entire movie collection at a few button press, swipes, or clicks away from anywhere in the world.

In a way, its exists in a world that doesnʼt quite exist. It seems increasingly unlikely that weʼll ever be able to fully utilize Plex. Media companies seem unwilling to provide DRM free files. Plex doesnʼt care where you get your files. Your options range from legally gray area of ripping disks to piracy. This means that youʼre either in for a lengthy conversion process or a battle with your conscience. This is the land that Plex inhabits. It doesnʼt have a particularly good UI. Its workable but its nothing revolutionary. The big draw is that it can play anything that you throw at it without DRM. This is only a big deal in that the rest of the big players are required to handle DRM.