Plex Media Server
We’ve covered a lot of different entertainment options so far and pretty much all of them have one thing in common: the content you’re watching exists somewhere outside your home. In other sections, we talked about picking up over-the-air broadcasts with antennas and streaming content over the web with services like Netflix and Hulu. It's time to talk about media servers and local content.
Plex is the most full-featured and user-friendly of all streaming media servers.
Locally stored content isn’t dead – far from it. Lots of cord cutters still have video files on their computers. DVD/Blue Ray rips, home videos, music, photos and more can all be integrated into a cord cutting setup, too. All you have to do is use Plex Media Server. Plex recognizes just about any kind of video, music, or photo format and displays all of your content in an easy-to-navigate interface.
Once you have downloaded Plex Media Server onto your computer or NAS device, it gets to work scanning and indexing all of your media, making it look beautiful and intuitively organized in your Plex library, and getting it ready for streaming.
With a Plex Pass and Plex Live TV and DVR, you can watch and record your favorite free HDTV digital broadcast channels, including local news and sports, on any device, anywhere in the world.
How media servers work
The idea is that only one of your devices needs to have all your content on it – most likely, this would be a desktop or laptop computer (a dedicated media center computer, for instance – see here for more on that option). That single device runs Plex Media Server, which uses your local network (or the internet) to make your media available to all of your other devices.
Setting up Plex Media Server is easy as one, two, three:
Download Plex Media Server on your computer of choice
Organize your media folders and add them to your server
Download the app for the devices you want to watch on, and connect
Plex is the most full-featured and user-friendly of all streaming media servers. It’s a clean, beautiful program that “just works.” Plex organizes your local content and presents it visually in a way that’s reminiscent of Netflix, Hulu, and other services, providing plot summaries, posters, reviews, cast info and more. It’s a major step up from clicking through folders on your desktop for .mp4 files.
Plex’s basic functionality comes free, but Plex’s premium option (called “Plex Pass”) allows you to sync your content to your mobile devices. It also offers music lyrics and sonic fingerprinting, movie trailers, Plex Live TV and DVR, cloud server, photo-tagging, and more.
With Plex Live TV and DVR you can watch and record high definition, over-the-air television broadcasts using a digital tuner and antenna. Our intuitive and customizable program guide supports channels in more than 70 countries, including shows from all major US networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CW, as well as local programming, news, and sports (encrypted channels currently not supported). We also support many other major networks around the world, like CBC, BBC, ITV, Telemundo, and Univision.
Plex Pass subscribers can tweak sharing controls so that different users see different options, so you can share Plex with your family without letting the kids stream your digital copy of Pulp Fiction. See “How it Works”.