Ready for a media management and streaming system without the limits of your old “solution?” Meet Plex, a largely free streaming and management system for all your downloaded media.
What is Plex?
Plex is an organization and management system for streaming your video, music, data and photos around the house. This may sound familiar — in fact, if you already have an Apple TV or other set-top box/smart TV arrangement, you may be wondering why you would even need to use Plex.
Like other streaming services, you can pause media, resume where you left off, keep track of your recent shows or videos, and so on. Plex goes the extra mile, letting you stream your own library of downloaded content. It uses a server configuration to organize and play files from a variety of sources — your laptop, your desktop, or your phone, for instance.
Plex doesn’t care what brand or type of media file you have, and most of the important components are free to download. You can also download it for Apple TV and many other devices you may already have.
As Plex has grown over the years, it has developed not only options for detailed media management via the Plex Media Player (a reincarnation of the old Plex Home Theater) but also extras like Plex Channels, apps across a range of devices, and compatibility with everything from Linux to Google Drive. Chances are good that no matter the streaming manager you are currently using, Plex is bigger. That makes Plex more suitable for those who prefer to tinker with and customize their software.
Plex functions with two central components, the server and the app. Both are required, but it’s the server that does most of the work, including transcoding and organizing (more on this in a bit). This creates a few requirements to get the most out of Plex. You will need:
- A powered computer connected to the Internet: The operating system isn’t important as long as you download the right version of Plex for it.
- A fast CPU: How fast? That depends on what you use Plex for. Lots of transcoding or lots of apps in service will create slowdowns, skips, and other streaming problems if your CPU is too weak to handle it. You can take a look at several popular configurations and the requirements here.
- A good network: Plex recommends an ADSL/Cable/Wi-Fi connection, with a Wi-Fi network that’s based on either 802.11n or 802.11ac.
- The right devices: Plex can stream to nearly anything, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Notable supported devices include Windows 10, Xbox (360 and One) PlayStation (3 and 4), Android, iOS, Roku, Apple TV, Ouya, Linux devices, FreeBSD devices, and Fire TV.