Plex has completely blown me away!

BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
I've balked over the years at media servers. I've put XBMC on my computer, and then Kodi, and it has proven to be.... difficult.
Just about two months ago I decided to give Plex a try. For those who have a couple of hours free and some media on your computer, it's worth a try.
The download is free, and it's a simple installation. Lots of tutorial videos online to show you what to do.

But, it's easy. That's what matters most. It works well and it is easy. You load it then start it then just browse for your movies.

Where are your movies stored?
Here is where I store them!
Great, I will now go look up all the information for that folder and make it a part of your collection! Do you have any other places you store movies? If so, let me know. I will scan your folder regularly in case you add new movies and I will just add them to your collection.

So, I have about 1,000 TV episodes and another 1,000 movies on my computer. I had an old computer that I wasn't using that I setup to act as the Plex server.

Now, the cool bit...

Plex has an insane amount of portability. That is, after about an hour of setup work, you can then use it on any device inside, or outside of your home. For outside of your home use, I think you have to get a paid Plex account (I dropped the lifetime fee of $120 after a month of trying it out for $5). But, inside your home, you can run the Plex Client (Plex player) on almost any newer Smart device. This includes Roku, AppleTV (newest), XBox, PS4, Android devices, iOS devices, many smart TVs have it available, Firestick, Chromecast... and the list goes on. You load it up, and launch it and log-in, similar to how you do for Netflix.

And that's it. You now have your entire collection of movies, tv shows, and music available to you. If you want a family member to be able to watch your collection on their TV at their home, just give them your login/password and they can do so from their devices. It's awesome and seems to be incredibly reliable.

For those looking for absolutely the best quality, it seems like the go-to product for playback is the nVidia Shield. WHICH.... I do not own (yet). But, Roku has played nicely, and watching a show whenever I want on my iPad or iPhone is pretty darn cool.

The biggest headache for me is the lack of ISO support for DVD and BD files. I've had to go through and convert my entire collection to MKV format to get the compatibility I have wanted.

But, my brother and my in-laws both have access to my entire collection, which means that when we visit we can pick from my entire collection and enjoy a good movie wherever we are with a few button clicks.

I saw some old posts about Plex, but nothing that recent. For me, this is all 'brand new', and after years of using DuneHD media players, I'm done with them. This is the way I will go in the future and the way I would recommend others give a try. Certainly worth it if you haven't already.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Pro tip: Plex Pass (the premium option) enables some a few very nice features, most importantly is the support for hardware video transcoding, ability to cache videos locally, and free PLEX apps (which are otherwise about $5 for each platform)
If these aren't critical on day 1, then subscribe to Plex mailing list and check your email often as you may get a limited time invite for 1 time deal of $79.99 (which I did)
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
So, one of the things I don't really understand is how different users in your home can interact with Plex. Like with Netflix, we have me, my wife, and both kids separated out as 'users'. You are presented with a 'who is using Netflix' page when you first login. One login, multiple users under that login, then the users each see their own customized page for information.

How does this work in Plex? I know they talk about having different users, but it seems that every single person needs their own Plex account.

Is that really the case? My kids will need to register their email with Plex? My wife will need to as well? I mean, they want to use Plex, but they likely don't want to have to do any maintenance whatsoever. That's all on me, and why I would like to set up their accounts for them without any hassle on their part.

My other concern being that the premium features of Plex Pass are definitely something they will use, but will they also need it? So, instead of buying one, I would need to buy each of them one? That's not really clear to me and those who have used it for a while likely have some deeper grasp of how it works.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
Have been using it for a few months too and aside from some instability, I like it.

Yes, each user needs their own account *sort of*, or at least any device that will access it needs to be able to log in via some account (PS4, Fire, etc..., I have one account, use it for all devices like any other service). My son in law hosts it on his server and I log in to view his content. No premium required just to login and view, but you do need an account to access it. He sends a link which gives access to his content, once logged in via my account.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
So, one of the things I don't really understand is how different users in your home can interact with Plex. Like with Netflix, we have me, my wife, and both kids separated out as 'users'. You are presented with a 'who is using Netflix' page when you first login. One login, multiple users under that login, then the users each see their own customized page for information.

How does this work in Plex? I know they talk about having different users, but it seems that every single person needs their own Plex account.

Is that really the case? My kids will need to register their email with Plex? My wife will need to as well? I mean, they want to use Plex, but they likely don't want to have to do any maintenance whatsoever. That's all on me, and why I would like to set up their accounts for them without any hassle on their part.

My other concern being that the premium features of Plex Pass are definitely something they will use, but will they also need it? So, instead of buying one, I would need to buy each of them one? That's not really clear to me and those who have used it for a while likely have some deeper grasp of how it works.
Here ya go.

plex users.jpg


Pretty much just like Netflix. Especially for "Home" users. Everyone has their own thing that tracks what they've watched and keeps that info seperate from the other users. Very nice. Especially if you have kids. You can set what library, content rating, etc.

Also check the documentation for more info.
 
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panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
I've been using Plex since it was first available on Windows (started Mac OS only) and love it. At first I didn't use it all that much just because I was already using SageTV (R.I.P.) so I just had it to play around with it. That was back when their PC client was pretty much a re-skin of XBMC (Kodi). Then they started adding all the features you see today. Once I had no use for my own DVR I want full Plex. Already had a lifetime Plexpass (wanted to support the devs) and I got it cheap since I'd been a member for so long.

My home media wouldn't be the same without Plex. One of the best products out there. It's shocking how many devices Plex supports.
 
Bryce_H

Bryce_H

Senior Audioholic
I am now on Plex with Nvidia shields (two) and really like the set up. I started with media PCs (w/ Windows Media Center), then Rokus, then Kodi/Raspberri Pis, and now the Plex/Shield set up. I use an HDHomerun for my TV tuner. I use the Plex DVR. Store everything on my QNAP NAS. Have Plex on my tablet and load it up when I travel. I use the commercial removal function in Plex and it work good enough. I have historically used MCE Buddy.

Overall the current setup is the most stable and friendly so far.
 
Matt34

Matt34

Moderator
Been running Plex for years on my trusty Drobo 5N and Apple TV (4k now). My company uses it as well overseas for us to use on our off time.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Can Plex play 4K HDR contents like Kodi DSPlayer/madVR?
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
Can Plex play 4K HDR contents like Kodi DSPlayer/madVR?
I use both. On PC Plex Media Player works quite well, but I'm not a huge fan of it's interface (I like the Android TV client much better). But, I use Kodi DSPlayer/madVR with Plex because of an addon called plexkodiconnect. You basically let the addon take over your Kodi library (or select which parts you want it to take over) and you have all your metadata already done. It just has to sync and after that it just works. You can even tell Kodi to use direct paths like it normally would if you have playback issues.

Works perfectly. I'd use Plex for everything, but my Home Automation platform works better with Kodi (speed mostly). That and Kodi has a fantastic skin I'm not giving up with my theater.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I use both. On PC Plex Media Player works quite well, but I'm not a huge fan of it's interface (I like the Android TV client much better). But, I use Kodi DSPlayer/madVR with Plex because of an addon called plexkodiconnect. You basically let the addon take over your Kodi library (or select which parts you want it to take over) and you have all your metadata already done. It just has to sync and after that it just works. You can even tell Kodi to use direct paths like it normally would if you have playback issues.

Works perfectly. I'd use Plex for everything, but my Home Automation platform works better with Kodi (speed mostly). That and Kodi has a fantastic skin I'm not giving up with my theater.
I have Kodi set up in 6 other rooms in addition to my main HT room. But they are all ethernet HTPC, not mobile.

What is the #1 reason to use Plex? Is it for mobile streaming?
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
I have Kodi set up in 6 other rooms in addition to my main HT room. But they are all ethernet HTPC, not mobile.

What is the #1 reason to use Plex? Is it for mobile streaming?
Yes and no. More of a central server that handles all the metadata. Kodi typically has it's own metadata per install, but I know there are ways around that (haven't used any or needed to). You can also share with friends/family. The mobile part is also there and I really only use it to do an automatic backup of my photos and videos I take with my phone. Handy feature.

Do you let each instance of Kodi grab it's own metadata each time you install?
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Yes and no. More of a central server that handles all the metadata. Kodi typically has it's own metadata per install, but I know there are ways around that (haven't used any or needed to). You can also share with friends/family. The mobile part is also there and I really only use it to do an automatic backup of my photos and videos I take with my phone. Handy feature.

Do you let each instance of Kodi grab it's own metadata each time you install?
When I installed Kodi in the past, I just choose whatever default comes up - no changing anything. :D

Share what with friends and family? :D
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
When I installed Kodi in the past, I just choose whatever default comes up - no changing anything. :D

Share what with friends and family? :D
Yep. I think you'd like it. One down side is if you use Kodi, you are more limited than with an "official" plex client (now, there is an official Plex addon for Kodi, but it has it's own skin) in the sense that you can't choose different profiles. I have one for me and my wife and our kids have their own. That way when they watch a TV show it doesn't show up on our watch next list.

I use Plex clients on every TV in my house. Even the theater has one, but I like Kodi for the WOW factor some of the skins have for the theater. That and the automation aspect.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
Got myself and my family setup with user groups, thanks for that pointer. The ability to stream and download content to my phone is really awesome since Apple is so freakin' proprietary with their stuff. It can be super annoying to try to get videos not just to a iPhone friendly format, but to then get them on the phone/tablet. Plex just makes all that so incredibly seamless. It's great.

My biggest push was convenience. It just is so easy to setup and go. I spent $5 the first month for PlexPass, but when it renewed I already knew I wanted the lifetime subscription. I was all set to pay the full amount, but they even credited me the balance, $4 or so, towards my lifetime purchase.

I have been researching 4K and HD Audio support, but that is clearly a work in progress for them. Everyone says how bomb the Shield is with Plex, but I'm not buying one yet. I probably will put that purchase off until late this year. Put it on my X-mas list. Already got my new projector, so I'm done with my annual 'big' purchase.
 
Bryce_H

Bryce_H

Senior Audioholic
I waited till the shields went on sale...it was like $45 off. I believe you can actually run the server off a shield with an external drive (mine runs on my QNAP NAS)
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
I waited till the shields went on sale...it was like $45 off. I believe you can actually run the server off a shield with an external drive (mine runs on my QNAP NAS)
That's my understanding. I've heard it can run a couple of transcodes as well as acting as a player. I saw it on Black Friday for $100 at Amazon I believe. Quite the deal, but it wasn't something I was fully in need of at that time. Still wish I had jumped when it was that price, because nothing is close right now.

Since I had an old computer lying around, it was a much easier call just to set that up as the server for Plex. I don't use it for any playback at all, strictly as a server.

It's kind of weird because I always viewed the HTPC as the source that needed to be controlled, and what I really like about Plex is that it just acts as a manager for my media collection, and the players are whatever I want them to be. Whether it is Shield, Roku, or just my phone or tablet. It's the fact that I have one point of control that's a reliable interface to management, and a completely different interface for my family that uses it on a regular basis and the two don't really cross.

This is something I've long thought that media players were really lacking. Things like Dune and the rest. Setup of those units was very time consuming and not at all straightforward. They didn't have a web interface, and they required third party software, with manipulation, to get a good media wall setup. It was... painful. Browsing, once things were setup, was easy enough, and worked well enough, but it also ended up being a fixed solution, so you didn't have h.265 decoding on older units, you just had to ensure your videos were all h.264 encodes (or similar).

I would think that Plex will be taking a serious look at 4K video and HD audio, especially considering their integration with Tidal. Saying "HEY! We do HD audio!" - Then going... "except if it's part of your video." is pretty lame. They need to ensure good 4K and HD audio is taken care of at the baseline.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
That's my understanding. I've heard it can run a couple of transcodes as well as acting as a player. I saw it on Black Friday for $100 at Amazon I believe. Quite the deal, but it wasn't something I was fully in need of at that time. Still wish I had jumped when it was that price, because nothing is close right now.

Since I had an old computer lying around, it was a much easier call just to set that up as the server for Plex. I don't use it for any playback at all, strictly as a server.

It's kind of weird because I always viewed the HTPC as the source that needed to be controlled, and what I really like about Plex is that it just acts as a manager for my media collection, and the players are whatever I want them to be. Whether it is Shield, Roku, or just my phone or tablet. It's the fact that I have one point of control that's a reliable interface to management, and a completely different interface for my family that uses it on a regular basis and the two don't really cross.

This is something I've long thought that media players were really lacking. Things like Dune and the rest. Setup of those units was very time consuming and not at all straightforward. They didn't have a web interface, and they required third party software, with manipulation, to get a good media wall setup. It was... painful. Browsing, once things were setup, was easy enough, and worked well enough, but it also ended up being a fixed solution, so you didn't have h.265 decoding on older units, you just had to ensure your videos were all h.264 encodes (or similar).

I would think that Plex will be taking a serious look at 4K video and HD audio, especially considering their integration with Tidal. Saying "HEY! We do HD audio!" - Then going... "except if it's part of your video." is pretty lame. They need to ensure good 4K and HD audio is taken care of at the baseline.
Lots of devices support 4k HDR video and HD Audio and the Shield is one of them that works very well with Plex. Could be due to their partnership with Plex, but whatever the case mine plays back everything perfectly. Atmos, DTS:X, and everything below play without being messed with. PCM is the only one that gets re-sampled apparently, but I'm not too worried about that. The only exception is HDR videos playing back on a non-HDR display. Those are washed out. If you won't run into that issue, then don't worry about it.

You can also use a PC as a client and it will also be able to pass through every type of audio/video with the exception of Dolby VIsion. Nothing at this point supports files with Dolby Vision outside of built in players in TVs (maybe something else, but Plex can't).

So if you're wondering if a Shield will support everything, the answer is yes. PCs work too, but are a bit more complicated due to what video cards support what codecs. HDR on a PC can be a huge pain as well, but that's another topic.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
The only exception is HDR videos playing back on a non-HDR display. Those are washed out. If you won't run into that issue, then don't worry about it.
Btw: Did you had a chance to test VLC player on the shield? I know that plex for Android client could be configured to use an external video player
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
Btw: Did you had a chance to test VLC player on the shield? I know that plex for Android client could be configured to use an external video player
I did. Same results unfortunately. I checked all the settings and still get washed out colors, but I'm no VLC expert. I'll see if I can find some specific settings for my particular issue.
 

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