If you are someone who has a ton of streaming subscriptions and are required to actually access these simultaneously, then the Plex Media Server is definitely something that you will need. It’s a clean, straightforward, and user-friendly tool to utilize to bring all your various media in a single area – this makes the setup process easier.
It doesn’t matter if you enjoy watching Vimeo videos or if you are an avid podcast user, Plex can definitely help you with what you need on all the devices you own such as laptops, phones, NAS and even desktops.
This article is going to be the first in a series of Plex articles that we will be producing so to get started let’s learn more about the Plex Media Server and see how it works, its features, and basically what it’s all about.
Plex Media Server Review
The Best Media Software Available
Plex is considered as one of the more well-known platforms for playing and managing media either inside or outside of your home. Also, it is basically a media server that functions beyond platforms such as macOS, Windows, and a lot more. This also lets you save music while simultaneously organizing all your media content including your videos, photos, and music.
There are also Plex applications that function across set-top boxes, smartphones, as well as other devices; this will readily let you access and watch all your content saved on the server. To put it simply, Plex Media Server functions just like a digital storehouse of all your favorite or important content, and also a platform that allows you to access specific content on your selected devices. It’s basically just like your personal on-demand service for entertainment.
Plex can be downloaded on various devices like Amazon Fire-stick, your PC, Xbox, smartphone, and even on your PS4.
Plex has a nice and organized interface which isn’t annoying or confusing. Plex appears similar to the likes of bookshelves on the iBooks app on the iOS and each of the titles are classified by genre and Plex provides cover art to your files even if your download didn’t come with any. And just like your regular music player, Plex also features its own playlist, recommendations, as well as a watch later option that gathers data from your personal library or even from any of your channels that have been installed on your server.
Just recently, Plex has also updated the music area of their service by including music videos from Vevo and an intelligent playlist; additionally, your music will be even more complete due to the extra metadata and the general experience should be somewhat related to services such as Pandora and Spotify but without the constant interruptions of advertisements.
Plex software’s integrated technology does give excellent performance without requiring you to have a dedicated transcoder, and video streaming with this is close to perfect. It was quick and snappy and watching videos on Plex was highly enjoyable, so we’re giving a thumb-up for Plex for its performance. We also tried accessing an OTA channel and we didn’t experience any lags so that was really a good thing.
Plex is conveniently available for mobile devices that run on Android, iOS, Windows 8 or the Windows Phone; it also has a collection of set-top boxes that feature any of the Android TV platforms, the new Apple TV, most smart TV’s, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One and 360, Roku, and the PlayStation 3 & 4. Plex is also highly convenient since even if you’re out of your home, you can still access your cache of pictures, shows, movies, music, and podcasts by simply logging on using a browser. Also, you can request Alexa to play your tunes from the Plex server or ask about the latest film which can be added to your growing collection.
Plex began testing a DVR feature for its favored media server setup, and now, it’s actually making the next huge step by providing live DVR and TV for every Plex Pass subscriber. They will need their own tuner connected to a cable jack or TV antenna, then Plex will do the rest by offering all the needed guide information as part of the Pass subscription; this is if you reside in a place with ATSC or DVB-T broadcasts. Today, it doesn’t just support a lot of different types of tuners, but it is also ready to livestream TV to iOS or Android TV with Apple TV and Android mobile devices next.
Features of the Plex Media Server
When you’ve set up and have the Plex Live TV running, you will see a collection of programs that you can view via the service. This also features a useful guide so you can readily see what’s up and coming so you won’t have to worry about missing anything. Also, the guide displays a collection of series and show descriptions so you can easily decide if you want to watch a specific content or not.
Plex Live TV is highly notable when it comes to its integration with the Plex-DVR which allows you to easily record just one airing of a TV show or the whole series; it also saves this on your account for Plex so you can readily view these whenever you want. The DVR also allows you to record numerous shows simultaneously. Since Plex is also made to work seamlessly across devices over the web, you can leisurely watch programs anytime and anywhere. All you have to do is have your tuner and digital antenna installed, and also stream over the internet so you can watch your favorite shows even from afar. Its Time Shifting feature also adds play, rewind, fast-forward, and pause controls to its live streaming programs, allowing you to replay your favorite scenes and more.
Before anything else, you’ll need a PC, NAS, server or similar that keeps all your files, and regardless of the platform that you choose, you’ll need a computer that will always stay on. There’s really no point in having an inclusive streaming option for all your media files if all of these are offline when you try and access these.
You should also ensure that your server computer should have an adequate amount of processing power to be able to handle the transcoding process. Plex can work on older hardware but you should remember that it will automatically disable the process of transcoding if you have insufficient hardware.
First, you’ll need to install the application by visiting the official site of Plex; from there, download the version of your choice: choose from Linux, Mac Windows, Free-BSD, as well as network-connected storage platforms like Western Digital and Netgear. If you’re going to use multiple devices, its best that you download the app for each of these but of course, we suggest that you start off with your main PC first.
After installing the app, you can start creating your own Plex account; launch the software then input the necessary details such as your email, username, and password. Your account will most likely feature a couple of libraries so just consider this as your master account where you can manage everything while saving a lot of time. We actually liked that a walkthrough is available so you won’t have any problems when it comes to adding media; basically, you’ll just have to press on add library to import any file that you want. Once you’re able to log in, check out the notification that is on the left portion of your menu; this is the area where you’ll need to claim your current network. Now, you’ll need to click on another notification which can be seen next to the Remote Access tab; then after, press on the Enable Remote access button to start utilizing Plex.
After this, we were able to see our home page and from there, you can start installing your channels by going to the Channels section. This is just as easy since you’ll only need to choose your preferred channels then install and once ready, new buttons will be available for updating, browsing, and uninstalling. If you want to personalize things based on your preferences, you can tinker with the settings to create your own playlist, add more channels, and more. You can even play specific audio from any show that you like and we really enjoyed this feature a lot.
Here are a couple of tips on how to get the Plex Media Server up and running on your selected platform:
Install the Application
Visit Plex’s official site then download the version of your choice; Plex lets you choose from a couple of different platforms which include Linux, Mac, Windows, Free-BSD, and also network-connected storage platforms like Western Digital and Netgear. You should download the app for every device of your choice but we suggest that you start with your main computer first.
Run the App then Create your Plex Account
After installing, click launch so the Plex software will lead you to another browser window where you can create your Plex account. Signing up is pretty quick since you only have to enter your email, password, then username; and since your account will feature multiple libraries, consider this as a master account that will save you a lot of time.
The site will give you a thorough walkthrough when it comes to adding media; you’ll just have to click Add Library to import any file of your choice. The syncing process could take a while depending on what your files and how large the files are, but you can just click next and continue utilizing the program simultaneously as it works.
Determine your Servers
When you log in, notice that there is an alert at the left-hand portion of the menu. It asks you to claim your current network so just click to save your network before identifying this; you’ll also notice an alert next to the tab for Remote Access. Click it then click on the Enable Remote access button. Now, you can readily utilize Plex to access your service via other devices and you can also disable this anytime you wish.
Now, you’ll be able to see your home page with its menu located on the side; just press the Channels portion then you can start adding media by clicking the Install Channels button. Simply select the channel of your choice then install. Once it’s ready, you will be able to see other new buttons which will allow you to update, browse, or even uninstall.
From here, you can start personalizing things. Tinker with the settings, make your own playlist and even add as many channels as you want. There is even the choice to play themed audio from any show which makes things more fun.
Free Plex VS Paid Plex
The basic function of Plex is basically free though some of the applications require unlocking; for the premium features, these are obviously restricted to users who have an active Plex Pass subscription.
Free-to-Use Features – Servers and Applications
– All of your media and data are yours; Plex won’t charge you for those.
– The Plex Web App is free
– All of Plex’s public and non-mobile apps are free and these include Amazon FireTV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Plex Media Player, TiVo, Smart TVs, and even gaming consoles.
– Their mobile apps are free but have certain limitations.
Paid Features – Applications & Plex Pass
– Having the Plex Pass subscription allows you to utilize paid apps for free, as well as other benefits and features.
– Live DVR and TV: Here, you can easily record and watch over the air broadcasts that are available in your area simply by utilizing a compatible digital antenna and tuner.
– You can enjoy stream extras and trailers (specifically fun interviews and even behind the scenes features) for all the content in your personal movie library. You can also include various lyrics from Lyric-Find and add these to your music library to sing along whenever you wish.
– The premium mode allows you to have geographic and scene-based tags like sunsets, landscapes, or even pets, automatically included for your pictures; you can also browse through your photo library via these tags.
– utilize mobile syncing for easy offline use, Gracenote music bios and reviews, camera uploading for wireless photo syncing, as well as the ability to sync chosen content from your Plex server to different cloud providers.
– Utilize the DVR function to easily record over the air broadcasts directly into your library. You can also get early previews to all the new features and applications available.
– You can also set up a Plex Home option for your whole family to allow seamless switching between accounts; you can also restrict the types of content that you share from your server.
– iOS (iPads and iPhones), Android (mobile), Windows Phone, and Windows app feature one-time in-app purchases so the Plex Pass subscription will easily activate the features without requiring additional purchases.
If you’re a media buff and have an archive of various files to back this up, then Plex is something that we’d definitely recommend to make things easier and more convenient on your part. We can also say that this is one of the best, cleanest, and straightforward software available today and the fact that it’s free of ads makes this even better. Just make sure that you have a stable and quick internet connection then Plex will definitely not disappoint.
Where to Buy
Plex is completely free to use however they do also offer a paid version via Plex Pass. For more information take a look at the official Plex page.