Plex was born because of one issue; we have a lot of media in different places. Movies on your computer, pictures on your phone etc. Wouldn’t it be great to consolidate all of this stuff into one easy to manage place and accessible from anywhere?
Plex comes in 2 parts, the first is ‘The Plex Media Centre Application for the Mac or PC’.
The media centre is essentially the brain of Plex. It takes a matter of seconds to aim Plex Media Centre at your media folders. This can be done broadly, for example telling Plex Media Centre to pull all of your shows from your entire computer or from one individual folder. Once told where to look, Plex Media Centre will start to pull all of the media in and automatically add it into categories. Lets say you have ‘The Simpsons Boxset’ and ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie on your computer. Plex Media Centre will know one of these is a TV show and the other is a movie and automatically add them to the correct categories.
The user interface is smooth and clean, there are no unnecessary steps and I found I was able to point Plex Media Centre at my entire media folder within about 20 seconds. I don’t have the best internet speed at home but I didn’t notice any bandwidth issues while Plex Media Centre was uploading my data.
Plex Media Centre was able to take the most obscure titles of both films and music and understand what it was. I even deliberately changed the name of a Simpsons file to “2612” and even with such little information, Plex Media Centre was able to take the episode and add it to the TV shows folder and correctly understood it was Series 26 episode 12.Plex Media Centre will also download any cover art relating to your media, even if it didn’t come with any. I have found a few little additions inside Plex Media Centre which make the app feel like a very highly polished product. When entering TV shows, Plex will start playing the theme song
of the show you are looking at. This is very unobtrusive and adds a complete new level to the app making it feel like a very highly polished product.
There is also the ability to choose from a vast library of channels, these include, VEVO, BBC iPlayer, You Tube and many more. When you have a channel set up, Plex Media Centre allows you to see all the content held in these channels. So for example if you were to select the VEVO channel you are able to get access to all the music videos inside of VEVO and even conduct searches.
Inside the settings you can set the frequency of how often you want Plex Media Centre to search for more content. Again I haven’t found any issues with this as I don’t really add alot of media to my Mac, so I set it to refresh the movie library every 2 hours.
As a media centre I have been completely amazed by how much Plex Media Centre has to offer. There has clearly been a lot of attention paid to the way it should look and how easy it should be for a user to pick up and use with little technical knowledge.
The 2nd and arguably most powerful part of Plex is the iOS app available for the iPhone and iPad.
The Plex iOS app allows you to access any data on the media centre and you can stream it or download it direct to your iOS device. All the media and channels added on the media centre are there and there is no set up involved. Simply log in on the iOS app and Plex will start looking for your media centre. Once connected all your content is available, it’s as simple as that. The iOS app also allows you to back your photos up to the Media Centre.
Just like the Media Centre the Plex iOS app is beautiful and just as easy to use although I did found trying to hit some of the buttons a little fiddly. If your media centre is going to be powered down or you are travelling somewhere without internet access, you can download the programmes from the media centre to your iOS device. This is rather simple, in fact a single button press while inside the show you want will start the download process. When Plex Media Centre has been set up correctly you can also access the files from outside of your network.
Both apps have the option to auto play the next episode, so if you are binge watching Breaking Bad, just press the cover art and it will start playing. Once one episode has finished the next will begin. This also leads in to Plex’s clever ‘hand off’ feature; watch part of a programme on one device, pause and resume from another device. It’s these simple features that make Plex a fantastic all-rounder.
Both Plex applications are beautiful and easy to use. I have used Plex for a little over a week and I will definitely be investing in a dedicated media centre computer.
(5 / 5) Plex is a great example of what you can do on the App Store. By taking all the technical fuss away from the user, they have created a beautiful work space that is not only easy to use but extremely helpful and it has become my app of choice for all things media.