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Plex - New Stuff
Old 03-14-2014, 07:04 AM   #1
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Plex - New Stuff

Not everyone is familiar with Plex, and it's not too easy to explain in a few words, but it looks to me, to be near the front edge of what we'll all be doing with music, photography and video in the very near future.
Roku features PLEX as a "channel", but that's not really what it is or does.

It's basically a way to transfer media from one place, through a media player, to a TV screen... to another computer, or to someone else's computer. you can also store info for transmission through Chromecast, to sync with your phone and/or to save streaming media to be played later. Also a number of other possibilities.

Have been using this for a few months, and still discovering features. The basic Plex system is free, so no investment to try. Advanced Plexpass is a subscription option, but you don't need that to use most of the system.
You're right... you don't need this because you're used to what you have. My only thought about that, is the future... Gut instinct says this, or something similar will be what everyone uses to mix and match electronics.

Link to the current newsletter gives a great overview of newest capabilities.

Anyone who is using this now, please chime in with additions corrections etc..

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Old 03-14-2014, 09:45 AM   #2
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Thanks imoldernu. I have been playing with Plex a bit and have used it to show my photos on my TV. Much better than viewing them on an iPad.

Plex is complicated and the instructions, IMHO, are not very clear. I have had to put it on the back burner as I work to learn Lightroom. One piece of complicated software at a time, please. :-)

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Old 04-13-2014, 10:38 AM   #3
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An update...
After spending some more time on Plex, I believe that this may be the most underated, underused GREAT pieces of software that exists for those who have varied interests, in your own music, photos, stored video stc... and now, a tremendous offering of movies, TV series, Documentaries and current (One day ) news.
The following channels are now available, most, with 2013 and 2014 TV series, of drama like 48 hours, Criminal Minds, the Mentalist, and news shows like 60 minutes... ... the full series. In additiion theHistory Channel has 26 series... some with dozens of episodes in a single series.

The channels that are currently available are A&E, CBS, NBC, History Channels 1 and 2 and ABC.

This is all free. You remotely stream from your computer... wirelessly to your smart TV, or media player... ie. Roku, Sony, Xbox or any of the newer model media players.

A really nice feature is that when you do a search for your show, the "album cover" and decription of the show comes up, along with a synopsis, the series and episode number, and the playing time. Literally hundreds of series and thousands of episondes available. I didn't count, but enough to last me a lifetime.
You control everthing with the remote for your media player. With Roku, the search is easy, and the "still" fast forward/backward button work.. Also... if you halt and leave the show, the next time you log on, the show comes up right where you left off.

Free.... Did I say FREE?... yes, for PC's.

For mobile devices, there is a charge... look up "Plex Pass" on your "apps" app.
A Plex Pass goes for $3.99 a month, $29.99 a year, or $74.99 for a lifetime. The app itself is available for $4.99 below.
As I understand it, this is an open source program, and continuously in a state of flux... The improvements in the few months I have used it, seems to me, it is definitely ready for prime time...

The entire program is immense, and the initial download and install will take some time... After that, Plex will search your computer, and organize all of the video/music/photo media... go to the internet for the information about movies, Tv series, Actors, Music Artists, Albums, Genres etc,etc... so you can sort search and select whatever you want. The first time around, this can take a long time... I have hundreds of videos and thousands of MP3's as well as tens of thousands of pictures... more than two terrabytes... so it took hours for the first go round... YMMV.

As to having to be a geek to understand how this works? Can't help with that... it just works. Took me a short while to figure how to make the wireless connection, but the rest was pretty straight forward, even if I didn't know what I was doing.

So, no wires... Free, tons of free content from the mainstream media... I guess the only thing I'd really miss is current news... CNN, Fox, CNBC, MSNBC, PBS, Link TV and AlJazeera... though almost all of these are available in clips or next day...

Good Luck!
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:24 AM   #4
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I did a lot of reading about it a while back. I know that the people who mastered it, really love it. At the time, as I recall I was looking for other software that would be able to replace Media Center and be able to download TV schedules and record programs to my computer. I thing it was that last step that it was lacking at the time. Don't know if that has changed.

Though I wanted to try it. I am not all that computer literate and I was afraid I would be in over my head. But I will have to revisit, and see what's new.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:46 AM   #5
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A little bump here, with a thought about the learning curve for running Plex.

First... here's the basic way it works.

1. Plex is a "server"... which means it "serves" media content from your computer to a Media Player... (Roku, Western Digital, Netgear, Slingbox, and most game systems.)
2. The information is sent wirelessly from your computer to the Media Player/Roku... where it shows up as a "channel".
3. The Plex software (free)... is a sophisticated program that can look into your computer for whatever "media" that you have stored there. (In my case, a 2 Terrabyte hard drive that has a collection of movies, home videos, music, and photos... many thousands of files.) You select the Folders or files that you want to be able to send to your media player... and then to your TV.... or you can let Plex do this without your help.
4. In addition to this, Plex can connect to many free TV channels from your computer... These channels are not live, but offer stored content that Plex interprets, and sends to the media player. Most without commercials, or with a very limited openeing comercial.
Channels are being added even now... (a work in progress)
some of the channels are: PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, The Smithsonian Channel, The Daily Show (Jon Stewart), The History Channel, YouTube, NPR, National Geographic, TED, A&E and more.
The content on these free channels varies... Some have current shows, News broadcasts, TV series, previews etc. If you watch a TV series, and miss a show, you may be able to watch it later... availbility varies. the Smithsonian and History Channels have enough content available all the time, for several year of watching.

Now... here's a suggestion:
Instead of tackling this as a complicated (too much trouble) project... download the free Plex program software, and take it a bit at a time. Because it does so much, the interface (at first) seems too difficult... separate menus, and searches for your computer programs. In my case, I just let the program run by itself for many hours, as it searched the codes for MP3's, Movies etc... and linked the codes to the Album covers, singers, actors, genres etc, etc... to provide a visual interface and search capabilities.
After Plex did its' search, I took it one piece at a time... Now, I figure "if I can do it, anyone can do it"...

Although the program is so complex and does so much, (more than Microsoft Media Player et. al ), it doesn't take up much disk memory space.

While I'm still learning, using the program is much easier, and I find myself using it more and more, as I have begun to hate the 20 commercial minutes out of every hour that cable TV forces me to watch.

IMHO, the direction that we're headed for the future... a work in progress... and understanding how it works, a new hobby.

Give it a try.
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