Today’s home is a grand media system, with a TV or several ones, a notebook or desktop PC or several PCs again, a set of mobile phones and tablets, probably a gaming console or Apple TV, possibly a NAS device. Plex is the way to keep your digital house in order. Instead of endless copying your files to USB sticks and connecting them to each other ...
Plex for Android Description810
Today’s home is a grand media system, with a TV or several ones, a notebook or desktop PC or several PCs again, a set of mobile phones and tablets, probably a gaming console or Apple TV, possibly a NAS device. Plex is the way to keep your digital house in order. Instead of endless copying your files to USB sticks and connecting them to each other with cables for syncing you can do it all wirelessly, just streaming your media between your devices and from external sources as well. But as Plex is not life, the best things in it are not free.
Like all the apps providing access to your media content from one device on another, Plex is based on the server-client mode. The server app is downloaded separately, you need to install it on your PC and set up your server selecting the media folders.
Then you install the client app on your mobile device and connect it to the same network your server is in. After that, all the available media files will be displayed on your mobile device. There are even bookmarks, so you can pause your movie on one device and resume on another.
And there’s even more. Plex turns your file pile into a real media store.
Your movies and music get their description by the name. You can read the card of the movie with a review, formal data like year, studio, cast, ratings and so on and its media info - resolution, audio tracks format and languages, subtitles. Before playing a video, you can select the desired parameters.
Media files can be streamed directly to your device with hardware encoding on the server side, so it’s optimized to fit your screen. It makes little sense to play music from your PC on mobile devices unless they’re connected to external speakers. But watching photos on your TV is always more pleasant than on a small portable device screen. The service also tracks new files in selected folders and adds them automatically to your library. You can also connect Plex to the iTunes library, you have already set up.
Plex is a social thing, by the way. It has a built-in social network your reviews and rates are spread through. You get recommendations from your friends and agree that what you watch and listen can be shared with them. There’s a lot of other Internet options. You can stream trailers of other movies before your séance to get the real cinema experience, enjoy background pictures while listening to music.
Streaming options are much wider, in fact. You can subscribe to the channels provided by Plex, watch trailers and music videos, and do heaps of other fun stuff.
The app’s appearance seems a bit too complicated. Yet most server-client apps look quite like that. The movies and photos are easy to select due to preview thumbs. A player is very easy, with intuitive controls.
When you connect at least three devices via the local network and Internet, prepare yourself for unexpected issues. Your PC power may be insufficient for real-time encoding, the connection may fail, some devices may be hard to connect. But most of these problems are very rare.
Cross-platform use 10/10
Plex seems to have covered most of the device classes. Server apps are available for Windows, Linux, OS X and separately for NAS. The client app can be installed on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and even on another Windows device. Special editions are available for Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and other media devices made for TV, as well as for some Smart TV models. In the System section of the mobile app, you can allow the mobile Plex to work as a server, so other devices get access to its content. A pleasant thing is that all your local connections are SSL-protected.
In fact, the developers have done their best for the app to make as little sense as possible as long as it’s free. Purchasing a lifetime pro version will cost you a lot, and its year-by-year prolongation – even a greater lot.
Until the service is activated, your video playback is limited to 1 minute. The paid subscription called Plex Pass or activation via a mobile app (also paid) also gives you parental control over what your family watches, watch music videos and lyrics, upload photos from your camera, download extras to your movies.
The Bottom Line
The functionality of Plex is great when it comes to streaming of local content between devices. But as long as you use it for free, it’s rather a demo. On the contrary, the paid subscription gives a lot of enhanced features for organizing your digital home.