Content. Content running out our ears. And parts beyond for that matter. What’s a person to do? Aggregating and organizing can be a hassle. So many services and computers and smart phones and tv’s, you’ll never get everything into a single, organized container. Enter Plex, a service dedicated to doing just that. I first met with Plex at ShowStoppers in 2016 out at CES. The idea struck me right away, but I never got around to really digging into the features and finding out just who this product was for. And over the past year, as with many years before and I’m sure after, the answer is EVERYONE. Let’s get this Plex Review started.
The basics: Plex is a Media Server software that can be downloaded and installed on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device or computer. Also, as of only a few weeks ago, Plex Cloud offers the same functionality on their servers, and now integrates services such as Dropbox/Google Drive/One Drive. The software specializes in not just collecting all of the media from your computers, smartphones, Go-Pro’s, cloud services, gaming consoles, smart televisions, NAS’s, and so on, but organizing them in a convenient manner. You can immediately see how media junkies will see the value in the “swiss army blade” approach to Plex.
Why Would Man Create Such A Thing?!
You may be asking yourself, “Why would I use something like this if I can just go to each service, like a neanderthal?” Fair point. But my surplus-brow sporting friend, it’s convenient. That is the claim to fame here. All of your tv shows/pictures/movies/ and more are all available on any of the devices that connect to Plex. Obviously, if you find yourself with a single television and a single smartphone, this may not be the best solution for you. But when it comes to organizing and distributing media to your own ecosystem, Plex blows everyone away.
Plex Media Server is available now, with the latest Beta for the Plex Cloud just wrapping up. It will be available soon, and let’s you connect any device through their cloud service, making things much simpler. Of course, the biggest downside to this, is that you must have a solid internet connection on the device. Streaming up to 20mb/s download would kill a mobile plan, and Wi-Fi can certainly support it, but still hit or miss. But, added functionality, can’t lose!
It Goes All The Way Over There?
Plex is suited very well for the home. With that said, they also make it a point that you can enjoy your media on any device, anywhere in the world. Data limits have something to say about that, but they aren’t wrong. In the home on a single network, I feel Plex really shines, casting content anywhere, with a flick of a wrist. Plex is also great for people who consume media when and where they can, as it saves the place of any video, song, tv show, whatever, across devices. Pick up right where you left off. Not to mention supportive apps for Microsoft/Sony gaming consoles, Nvidia Shield support, and Smart TV compatible.
Setting up Plex is probably the most difficult part of the system, which isn’t saying much. Install Plex Media Server software on a device you know you will be leaving on most of the time. Obviously, a large NAS device works best here in terms of power usage and performance. Though a dedicated PC would work equally as well. The software then goes out to all of the devices you connect to it, and gathers what you decide. If you choose to only collect pictures and movies, then that’s all there will be. Then, by downloading plug-ins for browsers or app’s for devices, you can access the Plex Media Server with a discrete log-in. Simple.
But Who Is This For?
Now I will say that the base package is ideal for someone who has lot’s of media in a lot of places and wants to organize. But with the premium features, this turns into a whole home/multi-user dream machine. Premium features include parental controls, or multiple managed accounts for each user. Otherwise, everyone is sharing one collective… collection. Premium also has a litany of perks which can be found on their website.
Plex prides itself on their ability to turn the digital world around us into a simplified user experience. And I feel they have honestly delivered on that promise. With new features being added and cloud integration just coming to market, Plex has solidified itself in my mind as the best option for a discreet media server. Check out their service if you find yourself wishing you were home to finally get back to your show. Check out Plex if you can’t keep all your pictures together. Or if you need to share movies/songs/shows to others. They spent a lot of time making sure all of these features work, and work well, which shows. Very impressive.