If you stream media from your computer to a television then you likely know all about Plex, a standout service that provides a simple user interface for watching and controlling your media library from multiple devices. And now Plex supports Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Plex has announced it is launching apps for Xbox soon, opening the door for gamers to turn their next-generation and last-generation consoles into media streaming devices. If you'd like to learn more about Plex, including how to setup Plex to stream stuff to your Xbox, then keep reading.
Pocket-lint has not only detailed all the bits worth knowing but also provided resources and a brief tutorial on how to get started with Plex.
Plex - everything you need to know
Plex is a media-streaming service that includes the Plex Media Server and the Plex player apps.
Apps: Plex is available on many platforms (Xbox One and Windows, OS X, Linux, and even NAS devices). You can use Plex's web app bundled with the Plex Media Server installed on your computer to stream media, or you can use the Plex player app downloaded on your mobile device or console. You can even use the Plex apps available for connected devices such as the Xbox One, Fire TV, and Roku.
Playback: Plex will allow you to easily playback your media on any screen or device. Plex not only offers media compatibility, ensuring you can watch almost any file type, but it also displays all your media in the player apps with relevant information such as synopsis and ratings. Plex further keeps track of what you've watched and lets you resume from that point on another device.
Channels: Plex has channels - just like Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku. You can therefore open the Plex connected app on the Amazon Fire TV and then access YouTube or Vimeo through Plex, for instance, rather than use the YouTube or Vimeo apps downloaded on your Fire TV. Such a feature means you can stream and enjoy a range of content apart from what's stored inside your own media library.
Cloud: Plex can use the cloud, enabling you to bookmark media on Plex-supported sites for later viewing, share your content with friends or family, and watch shows over the internet while on the go, among other things. You can even upload media to various cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Google Drive and watch it from a Plex app, as long as you have the Plex Pass (more on that below).
Plex Pass: Plex Pass is a subscription service. It is normally available in monthly ($5) and yearly subscriptions ($40). If you subscribe to Plex Pass, you will get early access to new Plex features and preview versions of the Plex Media Server and other apps before they're released. You will also get access to premium features (like Plex Sync, Cloud Sync, and Camera Upload), high-quality trailers and extras, and support for multiple users.
Normal streaming is free on Xbox One and PS4, after initially being at a charge. The premium features are still reserved for paying members.
Want to know more?: Visit Plex's support pages for more general information about Plex and Plex Pass. There's also a support page available that goes over all the differences between paid Plex and free Plex.
Getting started with Plex
Pick a computer: Plex has two parts. The server is for storing your media library in a central place, while the player apps are for playing back media from the server on any device. The first thing you need to do is install the server on a internet-connected computer. Once you've decided which computer you're going to install the server, visit the Plex Downloads page and download the server for your platform. Then follow the on-screen instructions to finish installing the server.
Organise your media: Plex identifies your media according to folder structure, filename, and the libraries to which it is assigned. You should therefore check the Media Preparation guides to ensure your media collection is sorted and named correctly. They include tips like separating media type into folders (movies and music) and renaming files to match the content ("Avatar.mp4"). Once organised and readable, Plex automatically fetches information like posters, descriptions, and ratings.
Launch Plex web app: On the same computer you installed the server, you will need to launch the Plex web app. PC users can go to the Plex icon in the Windows System Tray at the lower right of the screen, then right-click, and choose Media Manager. The default browser will open and load Plex's web app. Mac users can locate the Plex icon in the top Menu bar and choose Media Manager. Again, the default browser will open and load Plex's web app.
Setup Wizard: After loading the Plex web app, follow the Setup Wizard's on-screen instructions. It will help you create libraries for your media. During your setup, you'll also have the option to "Connect" your Plex Media Server in order to access content when away from home or to share content with other users. If you only want to use Plex while at home, you won't need to connect your server.
Player apps: Although the Plex web app has a built-in player, you can watch media with a separate app on a console, computer, mobile device, or connected device. Just download the app from the Plex website or visit a related app store. You'll want to make sure your player device is connected to the same network as your server, and then you'll be able to watch media from the app. If you have a Plex Pass, you can watch some of your media over the internet while on the go.
Want to know more?: Visit Plex's support pages for more information about getting started with Plex. You can also watch the video below.
Plex for Xbox
Features: Plex has announced it will soon start supporting Xbox One and Xbox 360 - so you'll be able to stream your personal library of movies and shows to a television via the Plex player app for Xbox. Plex will customise categories of media based on gamers' viewing habits and make it easier for them to discover new content. And of course any gamers with Xbox Kinect will be able to use voice and gesture controls to navigate their Plex media libraries.
Plex app for Xbox: To get the Plex for Xbox apps when they release, sign into your Xbox Live account using your Xbox Live gamertag and browse for the Plex app. Once you select and download the app, sign in to pair your Xbox Live account with your Xbox account. But before you start using the Plex for Xbox app, make sure you already setup the Plex server on an internet-connected computer. Check out Pocket-lint's tips above for more information on getting started with Plex.
Availability: The Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the app are available now, to use free of charge,
Want to know more?: Visit the Plex for Xbox page for more general information.