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Plex: The Clients

Plex

plexI’ve written about Plex at the back end previously on this blog hee: http://blog.projectz.me/2012/10/11/plex-for-local-and-online-media/ and its worth a read should you not know or would like to know more about the Plex server software. Once you have the software up and running on a server, Plex has a good selection of clients which allow you to view your media on many devices.  I thought i’d share the one’s I have tried.

Setting up the Plex server on Linux or Mac doesn’t dictate what platforms you can run the client on. However it’s a good idea to setup a Plex account, although i’d suggest the PlexPass is a touch expensive to beta test Plex products on the guise of being an early adopter.

It’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay for most of the mobile clients, remember good software is worth supporting to make it better.

So the Clients

Windows Phone 8

Written I think for WP7 this App however works very well on my Nokia Lumia 920 with an easy well thought out interface making finding the videos and music very simple.

plexwp8

Like most WP apps this one sticks to the Central look and feel of the OS and reacts quickly when navigating around menus, settings allow you to like up to your remote media via the Plex Accounts and setting up your router to allow direct router access (using a DynDNS Address)

The playback over Wifi on the phone is judder free and on my Nokia other than the iPad app one of the most crisp looking videos of all the devices Plex works on.

Android

I’ve got the Android version installed on an Asus Transformer tablet and of all the clients I have to say the video display is seemingly washed out. It may just be the display on the device there just seems to be a lot of saturation. Interface wise much like the WP8 and IOS apps this interface has been clearly thought out and simple to navigate

plexandroid

The Android App is one of the more expensive one’s at over £3 however like the WP8 App its well thought out design and comparatively well thought out.

IOS

I’ve used this on my iPad 3 and the retina display as you can probably guess does this client the world of justice. the (almost) 10″ display is the perfect size for remote watching and the presentation of the interface is quick and easy to navigate.

plexios

The screen display is immense i cant stress this enough and again with a nice Wifi connection or a strong 3G connection the  video feedback is gapless and crystal clear.

Web Interface

The Web interface is the crowning glory of this application, it uses flash to display videos and again, if your router is setup to allow port forwarding and you have a static IP or know how DYNDNS works this means from any supported desktop web browser you can gain access to your media

plexweb

As well as providing the well thought out interface, its also possible to start refreshes of the media library if it is not up to date from the web interface. Useful if ou have a lot of changing media. Supported with an account login your Plex server does need to have a Plex account attached with it.

I’ve even tried this on a very slow link and there seems to almost be a lot of caching so the login seems to take a while (on a slow link) but when you are logged in everything seems to be a bit more snappy than you’d expect including the video thumbnail creation.

Running the Plex Media Centre on Ubuntu 12.04

The Plex staff have not create a client for Linux yet. To resolve this issue we can use the Plex Media Center for windows with Wine. Enter the following lines of code. This will add the repository, update and install wine:

$: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
$: sudo apt-get update
$: sudo apt-get install wine1.5

After this is complete, run the following command.

$: winetricks vcrun2010

then make the following sentences:

  • Right click on the “exe” file, go to “Properties”.
  • Click on the “Permissions” tab and check the box that says “Allow executing file as program”, then click close.
  • Right click on the file again, this time click “Open with Wine Windows Program Language”.
  • The installer should start up, follow the prompts.
  • Important when you get to the “Choose Components” uncheck the Visual c++ 2010 option
  • Once installed will be in Applications > Wine > Programs > Plex Media Center

the above picture is not mine but it appears like that on my ubuntu 12.04lts desktop edition

 Playstation 3

For all the good well thought out design which has gone into the Plex clients on the other platforms, the one device which is attached to my TV with a remote provides an abysmal interface. When it comes to navigating my content on the TV I have the wife test. If she can find the show she wants to watch then it passes. When even I spend too long trying the shows I know this will never get past the Mrs and as such this interface is terrible

Trying to emulate and work within the interface the PS3 uses which is terrible anyway it’s all too easy to get lost where you are when using it. I’m not sure why the Plext team felt the need to go this way when they could have written an app or used the web app for navigation like the BBC Iplayer or 40D offerings.  This is a shame because with the PlayTV on the box I almost had the perfect media centre.

When you do find the right video the playback can be a big jerky which is again strange as the iPlayer app works find and Plex on the other devices seems to also work perfectly well.

Conclusion

Other than the terrible PS3 offering the Plex team have done a good job at building a good number of well thought out but similar look and feed client applications from which to watch your media on. this client server model takes Plex to a point where I personally want to be with my media being able to watch it at home and/or on the go. I’ve successfully managed to watch a different show streamed at the same time to each device and had zero juddering and the video trans-coding kept the videos looking sharp and crisp.

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