How To Use Plex – Setup, Requirements, and Benefits
Organizing your media can be a hassle, not to mention, tedious. However, programs like Plex make the task convenient and less like a chore. Despite it being available for a few years now, Plex remains to be underrated and often overlooked.
If you have just discovered about Plex and somehow, it piqued your interest, you will be surprised to know that the program can do so much more. In this article, we will talk about the basics of how to use Plex. Moreover, we will also talk about other features that make your Plex experience more worthwhile.
What Plex Does
Plex is a program that provides a central hub wherein you can access and store all of your media and other content. Plex can be installed on a computer, and it provides you with a server that stores all of your data.
Plex also has a Plex Client. Through Plex Client, you can play any media or content. It serves as a streaming platform for users. Moreover, the Plex Client can be used in a myriad of various devices. With this, you can stream your media on any devices.
Plex is supported by several devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles and many more. Once you have already installed the Plex program to the device, you can then connect it to the Plex Server so that you can gain access to any content you have stored from the central hub.
Why Use Plex?
The main reason why a lot of people use Plex is the fact that you can use almost any device because a lot of operating systems support it. Another reason why a lot of people use Plex is that it provides its users a convenient way of organizing their media. It catalogs all your media efficiently and effectively. Aside from this, it also provides an interface that is easy to use and is also visually appealing.
Media being supported by Plex range from movies, tv shows, music, videos and many more. Just recently, Plex has included Podcasts in their array of supported content. One of the critical features of Plex is its capability of converting all your files into a format that can be played on any device. This means that you won’t have any problem playing an MP4 file on both a TV and a smartphone.
Aside from the features mentioned above, Plex Media Server allows you to take downloaded content offline. This means that you can listen to any song anywhere, regardless of whether you have an internet connection or not. This will come in handy for users who are consistently on the go.
For example, you have just downloaded an entire season of your favorite show on your phone. However, you’ve been asked to attend a seminar out of town. Thankfully, you can continue watching the show. Just watch it while traveling or maybe you are lounging around in your hotel room.
Moreover, you can share your media and content to anyone through Plex’s sharing feature.
While Plex can be used on almost any device, it does come with a few hardware requirements. These minimal requirements allow you to make use of the program without any hassle.
First off, you need a midrange processor for the Plex Media Server. You need a processor that is higher than i3 since a moderate amount of power is required to transcode the media you store and play on the application. Plex transcodes media files so that it can be compatible with any device. It converts data to a playable format for all the devices connected to the plex server. This is important especially for video files which need to be converted to a supported format.
You will notice a lot of lags and crashes when you are operating the Plex Media Server on an under-performing device. You can always go for a premium range device with flagship specs and powerful processor. But the extra oomph will only be put to waste because you will not need that much power when using Plex.
Moreover, you need a device that has the fast connectivity hardware. Most of the time, you will be connecting to the internet. Because of this, you should be equipped with a device that has the recent network connectivity hardware. With this, you veer away from unnecessary slow buffering of the page.
Best Plex Devices
As we have mentioned, Plex can be used in almost any media device. However, there are just those that work well with the application. Most users use the Fire TV because of the cheap price tag as well as the user-friendly interface.
Another main reason why people like to use Plex with their Fire TV is the fact that the installation of the Kodi Media Center is easier. Kodi is an open source program that allows running of third-party add-ons and plugins which provide several media and content.
If you are willing to splurge a bit more cash for a more powerful device, you can always invest in the Nvidia Shield. The Nvidia shield is a good option for those who want to indulge in their content while also want to enjoy fast loading speeds. It is also a good option for gamers as well thanks to the powerful processor under the hood. The program can be installed and downloaded through the Google Play Store, and it can also come pre-loaded with some smartphones.
We recommend users to use a dedicated computer as your streaming device for the Plex Home Media Server. A laptop has all the necessary hardware and flexibility that you can use to get the most out of your Plex Experience. Nevertheless, the other devices you have at home can still be used as a streaming device for Plex.
How To Setup Plex
If you are new to Plex or have just discovered the program, you have come to the right page since we will be talking about the basics of using Plex. In this portion, we will teach you how to set up Plex, organize your media through Plex, installing a plex media server and other essential features.
Before you can get on with your Plex journey, it pays to know how to set up the application correctly. Before you can use Plex on other media devices, you need first to make sure that it is set up correctly on your home server. While the idea of it sounds daunting at first, trust us, it is not as difficult as it may appear.
The first thing you need to do is to download the Plex Media Server application to your computer. The company made sure to make different variations of the installer file making it compatible with a lot of operating systems. There is one for Mac, Windows, and even Linux. More so, there is also another version intended for NAS drives. With this, you are sure that there is a downloadable installer for any platform on your hard drive.
Once you have downloaded the file, click on it and breeze through the installation wizard. The installation wizard will guide you through the entire process. Once installed, you can access the Plex application through your computer’s browser. In this interface, it will show you where you can access your media. You will be handling all the media you upload through the server, so you are assured to have full access to whatever you put in the media server.
As we mentioned, you can also, make use of the application through a compatible NAS drive. To do this, you must have a desktop computer or a Windows Box that can handle the request. Generally, you want a reliable machine that can be left turn on. Moreover, it should be stable and have a good processor.
It is worth noting that Plex Media Servers are highly compatible with the Netgear routers and wireless extenders. With this, you can enjoy the fast and hassle-free connection with the server. However, do take note that this router comes with a price. Nevertheless, the high price tag comes with efficiency and reliability that surpasses most routers in the market. If you can’t afford the Netgear X10 router, you can always use another router, but make sure they are fast, reliable and stable unless you are okay with a constant spike in the internet and annoying crashes.
Aside from the fact that Plex lets you gain access to all your uploaded content, Plex also has built-in channels that give you tons of additional media for your consumption. On a side note, these channels can only be accessed if they are available within your region. So if for example, you can download the BBC iPlayer where you are located, it is expected that you can also gain access to this through Plex. Nevertheless, Plex has a relatively large selection of channels to choose from.
Plex still has hundreds of great channels to choose from which are available in several regions. These channels can also be viewed through the mobile application. So if you already gained access to the Plex server, make sure to look around, maybe you will find a channel that you like.
Adding Media in Plex
Before you can add media in Plex, you need to first sign up for an account.
- To do this, click Sign up and then fill up the asked information. Once you already filled the necessary information, click on “Create Account.”
- Once you already have logged in to your account, go to the Plex Server and add your media.
- Click on Launch and then go to Media Manager. The Media Manager interface allows you to add a myriad of media. In here, you can also organize your media depending on the type. You can make different folders depending on your preference. For example, you can create a Video folder for your clips and then Music folder for your songs. It is worth noting that Plex also makes subfolders as it categorizes the media you added. Once you have made the necessary changes, click on “Save Changes” and then click Continue.
- After adding the media to the library, you can play them through the web browser of the Plex application. In the home screen, click on which category or type of media you want to play, and click on play. It is also a good thing that Plex shows a short synopsis or overview of the press before you play on the media.
The Plex Media Server can let you stream all your media to any device. As mentioned, it is supported by several media devices and several media platforms from smartphones, to TVs and game consoles.
If you already have the Plex Media Server installed on your home server, you might also want to try Plex Pass. Plex Pass is an add on that you can subscribe to in a monthly, yearly or even lifetime subscription. Through Plex Pass, you get to enjoy the full Plex experience.
Plex Pass lets you enjoy early access to new features of the program. It also gives its users access to past versions of the application as well as applications released prior. Also, you also get the latest Plex applications for Android and iOS platforms.
Plex Pass also comes with Premium features including Plex Sync, Cloud Sync as well as Camera Upload. It gives its users exclusive access to forums that discuss new features of the program.
With regards to pricing, you can get your hands on a Plex Pass subscription for $4.99 a month, $40 a year and $150 for a lifetime. The latest features of the Plex pass takes the whole Plex experience to another level. Some of the cool new features include the live TV and DVR. As of now, Live TV can only be used to a limited number of devices. However, it is expected that the new update of the Live TV will allow more devices to be supported.
Another useful new feature of the Plex Pass is the Xbox OTA TV. Through this new feature, you can use your Xbox One to view channels you have subscribed with the Plex Media Server.