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Plex? (The media browser thing)
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Feb 14, 2013, 04:41 PM
 
Do any of you guys use Plex for cataloging your media? I was reading an Engadget How-to about it, and it looks pretty slick.

But apparently it requires a client-server set up even if its being used on the local machine. Upto this point, i've only ever used my PS3 and FrontRow to access my local media on my HDTV. I'm considering giving this software a go, and was wondering if any of you have used it or have any thoughts (pros/cons) about it?

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Feb 14, 2013, 05:09 PM
 
I use it for my media. Server and client is installed on Mac mini, and client on iPad; previously also used the client on jailbroken AppleTV2 and Roku devices.

It's a really easy and great way to access media stored on a server. When I was on vacation we watched a couple episodes of Sopranos on the iPad at night.

I hear Netflix USA works on it as well - that would make it more awesome. Unfortunately, Netflix Canada does not.

I would suggest simply installing the Server and Client on your computer, and playing around with it a little.
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Feb 14, 2013, 06:02 PM
 
I use it, and have been using it for quite some time. My bedroom has a Mac Mini connected to the TV. The Mac Mini acts as the server (as well as the client for the bedroom TV). I have a jailbroken ATV2 acting as a client in the living room.

Pros:
handles meta data pretty well (there are some failed matches, but most of the time it's spot on)
girlfriend proof
decent interface

Cons:
buggy plugin support (netflix plugin has been broken for over a month)
volume issues (adjusting volume can be troublesome with certain configurations, doesn't work at all for some plugins)
content doesn't always play on the ATV (get a generic 'Try Again Later...' message)

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If you're gonna use Plex get Remote Buddy for any Mac based clients. It will make the whole Mac accessible with just a remote control ( no need for keyboard / mouse ).
     
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Feb 15, 2013, 12:49 PM
 
I tried to use it, but it has a bug where it won't play .ISOs correctly (it cuts off the last 15 minutes of anything you watch, so if it's less than 15 minutes long [such as a lot of the DVD extras] it crashes or goes directly back to the menu.) It's been brought up several times, but the developers have flat out said they aren't fixing it.

So if you're like me and you actually enjoy all the DVD extras and occasionally the really cool menus (like on the ALIEN series DVDs), Plex is useless.
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Feb 15, 2013, 01:34 PM
 
I use it on my Windows and OS X machines. Runs pretty decently on my iMac G5, even, although it can't play full HD video.

I'm a big fan. It's made it very easy to organize and access our media from any machine in the house. The Android client is pretty great, but I will say that the Google TV client leaves quite a bit to be desired - it's not really a good ten-foot interface. Right now, it's more just an upscaled version of the phone/tablet client.
     
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Feb 15, 2013, 02:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
I tried to use it, but it has a bug where it won't play .ISOs correctly (it cuts off the last 15 minutes of anything you watch, so if it's less than 15 minutes long [such as a lot of the DVD extras] it crashes or goes directly back to the menu.) It's been brought up several times, but the developers have flat out said they aren't fixing it.

So if you're like me and you actually enjoy all the DVD extras and occasionally the really cool menus (like on the ALIEN series DVDs), Plex is useless.
Yeah I've heard this as well.....fortunately I hate disc extras and all that crap

I've just started playing with different skins last night - apparently XBMC is much better in that regard - but there a few nice GUI alternatives.

They've done a few great things with the client over the past little while - it used to be that you couldn't browse around much while playing your music library from Plex, or it would cut out the tunes; now it'll keep playing until you physically click on another file. It's nice to see that sort of clear progress.

Honestly, the only thing that it's missing that would let you escape the MacOS GUI entirely is a built-in web browser. If they ever added that, it's probable I'd never see the Finder GUI except on rare occassions - it would be, effectively, a fantastic "click front end" for a computer home theatre system.

I'm going to sign up to their paid option, which is pretty cheap.
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Feb 15, 2013, 10:50 PM
 
@ olePigeon
What the what? Thats a weird bug, and an even weirder response from the team.

Im a bit concerned about the client-server model. Im not a fan of "free" software that requires to open ports on my machine, and what info do they collect? Does it transcode the media? How about if the client and server are on the same box? im not looking to share my media on my network, just want a nicer interface and some internet channels without having to go to the browser.
     
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Feb 15, 2013, 11:47 PM
 
I will cast another vote for Plex. have been using it for a few years now and I consider it indispensable
     
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Feb 15, 2013, 11:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
@ olePigeon
What the what? Thats a weird bug, and an even weirder response from the team.

Im a bit concerned about the client-server model. Im not a fan of "free" software that requires to open ports on my machine, and what info do they collect? Does it transcode the media? How about if the client and server are on the same box? im not looking to share my media on my network, just want a nicer interface and some internet channels without having to go to the browser.
You only open the port if you want to be able to access your server remotely. I use this to watch episodes on my iOS device. I have also used the webUI remotely to watch things.

They only collect diagnostic information if you allow it. It uses ffmpeg to transcode to other locations (Roku, iOS devices, webUI) but if you have enough bandwidth you can Direct Play.

Just download it and try it. you will not be let down.
     
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Feb 16, 2013, 03:00 AM
 
AirVideo Server with the 3 dollar AirVideo App and an Apple TV, works soooo good.
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 02:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
Im a bit concerned about the client-server model. Im not a fan of "free" software that requires to open ports on my machine, and what info do they collect? Does it transcode the media? How about if the client and server are on the same box? im not looking to share my media on my network, just want a nicer interface and some internet channels without having to go to the browser.
The client-server model made the most sense to me - thin clients can be installed on a wide range of devices, but only one computer will use the necessary hosting resources.

Like I said, the mini is my primary playing client and server device (it has a couple TB of my music/movies), but if we happen to want to play something on the iPad while in bed one night - or if out of the city entirely - that also works great too.

On that note, I fooled around with a couple different skins and none of them felt quite as nice as the default. I'm not a fan of having to "drill" through text menus, which the default makes you do a little, but it still felt a good bit more thought-out than the other options I played with.
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Feb 17, 2013, 03:16 PM
 
A Raspberry Pi with RaspBMC can connect to a Plex Media Server very easily, too - which gives you a $35 compact HTPC with hardware HD video support and HDMI output.
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 04:12 PM
 
I've heard that's an option as well, but I don't have much interested in dicking around with trying to get hard drive setups and peripherals to work, etc. etc.

For someone who's got a lot of time to play with the setup and/or a solid tech base to start from, I would think that's a really good deal.

For me, the beauty of something like Plex is that it took very, very little time to set up. Suddenly, all my movie/TV show files are not only showing up perfectly organized, but they're named, have informational blurbs about them, associated pictures, and so on. It's really great, and anyone can use it to browse my library come Movie Night.
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Feb 17, 2013, 06:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
A Raspberry Pi with RaspBMC can connect to a Plex Media Server very easily, too - which gives you a $35 compact HTPC with hardware HD video support and HDMI output.
as far as my research took me, this was not exactly easy. got any material for it?
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 07:06 PM
 
We did it on one of our RPs. There was a downloadable image that can just be block transferred onto an SD card or USB drive using DD, imgburn, or something similar.

I'll have to go back and look at what we did - I can't remember off the top of my head.

Or do you mean getting XMBC to connect to Plex?
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 07:22 PM
 
getting a Plex client onto the raspi, ideally just being able to select the raspi as a Player on the iOS remote and having it direct play (or transcode if need be) to that
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 07:32 PM
 
RaspBMC is a lightweight Linux with XBMC on top of it.

Plex is really just an offshoot of XMBC that added in a server component to make it painless and simple to stream media anywhere in your home (or away from home, for that matter).

Info is here: Raspbmc

I'm not sure about the iOS Plex remote control app working with it, since it's not running Plex but more generic XMBC.

It's certainly a bit more hacky a solution than a straight-up Plex client, but the Raspberry Pi is dirt cheap, so it was worth trying for us.
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 09:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
How about if the client and server are on the same box? im not looking to share my media on my network, just want a nicer interface and some internet channels without having to go to the browser.
That's of course no problem at all! I use Plex on a 2009 (?) mac mini in my living room - the mini is connected to a Yamaha Aventage Receiver and from there to a TV and Beamer. Works like a charm and with the Plex skin "Retroplex" it's just pure eyecandy!
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Feb 18, 2013, 09:47 AM
 
Yeah, I fooled around with XBMC as well, but it seems to be targeted more for tech geeks or open-software fanatics or people who really want a lot of control and have the ability/time to tinker around with their systems.

I looked around at purpose-built HTPCs (cut-down desktops running Linux etc.) and I could only conclude that there was just too much fooling around to get a good product. I have neither the inclination nor the time to be messing around with hardware and/or software, and downtime is unacceptable; it just needs to work when I want it to.
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Feb 18, 2013, 11:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by badidea View Post
That's of course no problem at all! I use Plex on a 2009 (?) mac mini in my living room - the mini is connected to a Yamaha Aventage Receiver and from there to a TV and Beamer. Works like a charm and with the Plex skin "Retroplex" it's just pure eyecandy!
I also have both run from a Mac Mini, HDMI video straight out to the TV, optical audio out to a DAC/Preamp/Amp/speakers.

I didn't try that Retroplex skin as I was disappointed with the results from a Quicksilver and several Laika skins. I'll give it a shot tonight.
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Feb 18, 2013, 12:17 PM
 
I installed PLEX to use the media manager on my LG TV. It works great for media that the TV supports. Unfortunately, LG TVs do not support iTunes ripped music. (AAC) It will play podcast since those are MP3s
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Feb 18, 2013, 05:52 PM
 
I have been using XBMC (Plex is a fork of XBMC so they are nearly identical). Pretty impressive program and it's free so can't be beat. Like others, I just use it to watch ripped movies on my Linux HTPC.
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Feb 18, 2013, 09:07 PM
 
XBMC vs Plex for local media and free online content/channels?
     
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Feb 19, 2013, 07:21 AM
 
If you're only playing from one HTPC device, XBMC is supposedly a great choice, and there's lots of options too. If you're a compulsive tinkerer, then XBMC is your program. I did not bother to test out the online content etc., but Teh Intarweb told me that XBMC has more content in that regard.

If you want a media hub - ability to play all media on iOS etc. devices, ability to play media from a remote location - then Plex is the way to go. And in my opinion, it's a more rigid but easy/consistent experience; it just simply works very well, but it's not designed to be overly customizable.

Honest, just install Plex Server and Client, and XBMC. It'll cost you next to nothing, and both are easily deleted. That's the easiest way to figure out what one you like....
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Feb 19, 2013, 08:01 AM
 
I used XBMC in Windows and it was quirky...mostly because of Windows. I run XBMCBuntu which boots to XBMC with a basic underlying Linux OS...it recognized my IR remote control and my wacky wifi adapter that came with my Samsung TV without any issues or modifications. Never any problems with XBMCBuntu. If you're worried about XBMCBuntu, OpenELEC is an appliance version of XBMC which doesn't do anything except show media on a screen.

Since they are all free, try them and install what you like.
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Feb 19, 2013, 01:11 PM
 
I'd recommend Plex over vanilla XBMC because of how polished and easy to use it is. The server is rock solid, and the apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and OS X are all really great.

The OS X application is PowerPC compatible, too.
     
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Feb 19, 2013, 01:22 PM
 
Plex's webui is also quite nice. Have been very happy with that feature in particular since it was introduced.
     
   
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