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Plex fans: why do you use Plex?

LifeIsOnTheWire

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2014
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An argument stands between my friends and I regarding streaming media to your TV. Alot of people I know are constantly being being recommended to buy a Roku (or similar) and run Plex, so they can watch media from their PC on their TV?

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Plex for streaming content. Why should you have to run server software to transcode video, when your operating system is capable of running a simple Samba server?

I have a WDTV Live Player connected to my TV (which supports every codec under the sun), and I just have my movie folder on my PC shared over the network.

I also have it setup the other way too. I have a 1tb USB drive connected to my WDTV, and my WDTV runs a Samba server (a shared network folder, in Windows-language), and I can dump movies from my PC onto the WDTV over the network.

And if you don't like WDTV, a simple Android dongle/box is also capable of grabbing content from a Samba/windows shared folder.

I can understand when people already own a device like a Roku or Chromecast, Plex is the cheapest solution to use the hardware they already have. But hear lots of people suggesting buying a Roku, and running Plex as being the goto solution to stream media to their TV.

My contention is that a simple task does not need such a complex solution.

Why is Plex such a highly recommended solution? What do you guys use?
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
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641
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People use Plex because it's simple and easy to setup. It's already setup to look nice and works with the average users library size (like yours 1TB-3TB or something small).

WDTV Live Player is a setup from it. It's ok but I still find the interface to be an utter joke in terms of usability.

Plex is just recommended though so much because the average user can set it up quickly with cheap devices with a built in app like the Roku. It's really not useful though if you have a large library.
Using Plex with Chromecast, it took me about 2 minutes to scroll to Man of Steel on my phone. Utterly pointless.

i only like xbmc pretty much
 

LifeIsOnTheWire

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2014
15
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You're right, the WDTV interface is pretty bad (by 2014 standards). The menus are also really slow.

But WDTV is by no means the only device capable of accessing a shared network content.
 

Conscript

Golden Member
Mar 19, 2001
1,752
2
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Plex is just recommended though so much because the average user can set it up quickly with cheap devices with a built in app like the Roku. It's really not useful though if you have a large library.
Using Plex with Chromecast, it took me about 2 minutes to scroll to Man of Steel on my phone. Utterly pointless.

i only like xbmc pretty much

The Plex app on Amazon fire allows you to filter similar to Plex on the pc, and much more conducive to large libraries. Not sure why the Romu app is so basic
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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The Plex app on Amazon fire allows you to filter similar to Plex on the pc, and much more conducive to large libraries. Not sure why the Romu app is so basic
That's not what I'm talking about when I'm talking about navigating large libraries although filtering is a bonus. I'm talking about how you're locked into their horrendous view mode. You can customize the way each window is presented to you on XBMC.

It's hard to explain unless you've used XBMC and Plex, it's like using a Windows PC, then trying to use iOS to do the same task you could do on Windows.

Like I have multiple skin choices on XBMC, I'm not stuck on one skin. And I have 6+ view choices with each skin for each window usually. So I customize it the way I want to see.

The viewmodes presented to you on Plex (which are available on most XBMC skins), I would never use. I HATE those view modes, it takes forever to find content. I prefer this viewmode

Except, there is an option in that viewmode under that skin to present 15 thumbnails per line instead of 10 thumbnails per line.
 
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SolMiester

Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
5,331
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That might be the case with PlexConnect \ATV or the Roku and limited views, however if you use a HTPC like a NUC, you can use the full windows client to give you an XBMC style client which gives you the same viewing options, along with filtering.

TBH, i dont use the Windows client that must except when in the man cave, in the lounge we just use Plex Connect on the ATV to stream to the TV and usually choose from "On Deck"..
It also means my kids dont get to hog the TV as they can use their own tablet.
Not sure why you think its only good for small libraries, I have over 1000 movies and dozens of TV shows!


XBMC is cool, but is only for one device last time i checked, whereas, Plex goes with me anywhere in the country, be it my ipad, phone or a browser.
I also get shared libraries to view stuff not on my server!
 
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WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
26,739
3,715
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People use Plex because it's simple and easy to setup.
That was one of the big reasons I ended up using it.
It was easy to set up the PMS on my server. It throws all my content to all my devices and setting up remote access was a dream.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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That might be the case with PlexConnect \ATV or the Roku and limited views, however if you use a HTPC like a NUC, you can use the full windows client to give you an XBMC style client which gives you the same viewing options, along with filtering.

TBH, i dont use the Windows client that must except when in the man cave, in the lounge we just use Plex Connect on the ATV to stream to the TV and usually choose from "On Deck"..
It also means my kids dont get to hog the TV as they can use their own tablet.
Not sure why you think its only good for small libraries, I have over 1000 movies and dozens of TV shows!


XBMC is cool, but is only for one device last time i checked, whereas, Plex goes with me anywhere in the country, be it my ipad, phone or a browser.
I also get shared libraries to view stuff not on my server!
Yes I'm aware of the fact that if I get a pc Plex has more modes(still far less than xbmc) but then I might as well just use come.
As for Plex with you everywhere like I said Plex is easy to set up. You can do the same with xbmc it just requires setup. I prefer to not use Plex to share my library everywhere because I'm anal about other people remotely accessing my stuff.

Xbmc has the same customization no matter what device you use. On my phone, tablet, pc, firetv, etc. I still have access to the same interface. Never am I told how to set it up, it's up to me, that's why I like it.

But like I said, people like Plex because it's simple and I can't fault that. I like customization.
 
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SolMiester

Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
5,331
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Yes I'm aware of the fact that if I get a pc Plex has more modes(still far less than xbmc) but then I might as well just use come.
As for Plex with you everywhere like I said Plex is easy to set up. You can do the same with xbmc it just requires setup. I prefer to not use Plex to share my library everywhere because I'm anal about other people remotely accessing my stuff.

Xbmc has the same customization no matter what device you use. On my phone, tablet, pc, firetv, etc. I still have access to the same interface. Never am I told how to set it up, it's up to me, that's why I like it.

But like I said, people like Plex because it's simple and I can't fault that. I like customization.
What is come?
As for customisations?, id rather spend my time on the contents. I dont see the point in making it complex.
As for sharing, well, its only my family, they dont count as other people.
Anyway, regarding the OP, Plex is well recommended because yes it is so easy, and IMO, more accessibility than any other media platform.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
26,739
3,715
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As for Plex with you everywhere like I said Plex is easy to set up. You can do the same with xbmc it just requires setup.
Has XBMC gotten easier to access over the Web? Because it was a pain in the arse last time I tried to do anything like that with it. (although I didn't try very hard) With Plex in just involves signing into your plex account and forwarding the port on your router.

I think that I'd still use the Plex media server even if I was an XBMC fan and use the XBMC on the client.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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What is come?
As for customisations?, id rather spend my time on the contents. I dont see the point in making it complex.
As for sharing, well, its only my family, they dont count as other people.
Anyway, regarding the OP, Plex is well recommended because yes it is so easy, and IMO, more accessibility than any other media platform.
Xbmc my phone auto corrected.
If I'm using an x86 system and Plex.... Just no lol.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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Has XBMC gotten easier to access over the Web? Because it was a pain in the arse last time I tried to do anything like that with it. (although I didn't try very hard) With Plex in just involves signing into your plex account and forwarding the port on your router.

I think that I'd still use the Plex media server even if I was an XBMC fan and use the XBMC on the client.
What benefit would running Plex server give me if I'm using Xbmc?
I don't remote access my content so no use for me. Using a Plex client in my house when I have x86 processors....
 

SolMiester

Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
5,331
17
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What benefit would running Plex server give me if I'm using Xbmc?
I don't remote access my content so no use for me. Using a Plex client in my house when I have x86 processors....
As I said, I havent used XBMC for ages, once I found Plex, XBMC was no longer is the running. Seems that is the case for most people too.
It was a great medium, however as i said, tied to one device. I havent looked at it since.
But considering Plex does everything with ease, Im not sure why you would put so much stance behind an interior product just because you can customise the view on a client?

Not sure what you mean by x86 processors, is there any anymore, they have been 64bit since Althon64.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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As I said, I havent used XBMC for ages, once I found Plex, XBMC was no longer is the running. Seems that is the case for most people too.
It was a great medium, however as i said, tied to one device. I havent looked at it since.
But considering Plex does everything with ease, Im not sure why you would put so much stance behind an interior product just because you can customise the view on a client?

Not sure what you mean by x86 processors, is there any anymore, they have been 64bit since Althon64.
Plex is for you then.

It just would never work for me. They force you into a viewmode that takes me forever to find anything in my library.

Plex doesn't let me change my viewmode to scale to my library size. Great for a couple hundred items, a couple thousand items, I prefer to organize it differently and xbmc allows that flexibility.

You can think Plex is a superior client to xbmc, but Plex is a stripped down version of xbmc. It literally is that as Plex is a spinoff strain of xbmc that stripped features out of xbmc and dumbed it down for mass appeal. A great apple way to do business, but I need options, I don't want to be told how to view my library.

Plex is utterly useless for navigating my library on so many mediums it's pointless for me to use, and when I use it on an HTpc, it's no where near as flexible as xbmc so no way I'll use it personally. I mean, it doesn't even do live TV effectively.... Why would I suffer through that?
 
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smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
22
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I just assumed that most people jumped on Plex because they needed something to organize their media and stream it to different devices that had different codec requirements, something that WMC lacked. Plex takes care of all of that automatically.... Oh Yeah and it is/was a great piece of software that is free.

The evolution of Plex with Client Plug-ins, the ability to stream media out of home and just shear momentum has kept it on top.

There seem to be some alternatives that are gaining some traction out there right now. Mediabrowser is really starting to catch on in the enthusiast community. Mezzmo and Serviio have some pretty loyal followings, too.

I giggle a little when people compare Plex and XBMC. They are similar in that they organize your library and collect the metadata and artwork, but that's about where it ends. Plex is intended to be used as a server platform and XBMC is intended to be a 10-foot client platform. XBMC does include the ability to stream via UPnP but it lacks a lot of things that Plex has, the least of which is the transcoding ability.
 
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LifeIsOnTheWire

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2014
15
0
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I just assumed that most people jumped on Plex because they needed something to organize their media and stream it to different devices that had different codec requirements
I think you've hit the nail on the head.

I understand alot there are valid reasons for needing the transcoding feature of Plex to stream your media, but in my mind, these reasons are going to be limited to:

- "the device I want to watch on doesnt support playback for many codecs"
- "my bandwidth is limited, and I want the ability to lower the bitrate of playback"

Plex is the last thing I would recommend to someone asking me what the easiest way to stream media to their TV from their PC, because I would recommend a device capable of watching the media without transcoding.

If a friend told me they have a Chromecast, and they want to stream from their PC, Plex would be my recommendation.

It seems like such a silly solution for people who use HTPCs, Android boxes, or other boxes with proper file support.

Again, the only reason I'm asking this is because I have several friends with HTPCs, and they use Plex. I figured there must be some kind of feature Plex offered that made it worthwhile, something that XBMC couldn't do.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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I think you've hit the nail on the head.

I understand alot there are valid reasons for needing the transcoding feature of Plex to stream your media, but in my mind, these reasons are going to be limited to:

- "the device I want to watch on doesnt support playback for many codecs"
- "my bandwidth is limited, and I want the ability to lower the bitrate of playback"

Plex is the last thing I would recommend to someone asking me what the easiest way to stream media to their TV from their PC, because I would recommend a device capable of watching the media without transcoding.

If a friend told me they have a Chromecast, and they want to stream from their PC, Plex would be my recommendation.

It seems like such a silly solution for people who use HTPCs, Android boxes, or other boxes with proper file support.

Again, the only reason I'm asking this is because I have several friends with HTPCs, and they use Plex. I figured there must be some kind of feature Plex offered that made it worthwhile, something that XBMC couldn't do.
This is what I been trying to get at. Plex is easy for people to use with devices they're familiar with (Xbox One, Roku, Built in Apps, etc.)

Your friends who have HTPC's who use Plex probably use it because from startup, Plex is better than XBMC.
If I load up Plex and XBMC, do absolutely nothing, Plex is better suited than XBMC (Which starts in the Confluence skin).

If I change the viewmodes on Confluence to "Poster Wrap", I get closer to Plex, but still, Plex is better looking and for the most part similar to XBMC (XBMC still has live TV support though it doesn't have transcoding for mobile).

Then, if I simply change skins on XBMC, I'm lightyears ahead of Plex's default skin in terms of options. Aeon MQ series is just amazing in terms of customization options.

The only area Plex really is great is ease of setup, and transcoding (headless Plex is nice too but then again this comes to the ease of setting up plex. Just use MySQL for XBMC or UpNP but people don't want to think so Plex is again easy to setup).
Beyond ease of setup and transcoding Plex just is weak. XBMC is superior after that.

On a side note, Plex+Chromecast+Smartphone. I don't know how anyone uses that. Scrolling through my smartphone to play something on Plex takes ages. Then, when I want to pause/stop, I have to reconnect to wifi every time. God forbid my phone simply decides not to connect to the chromecast or not work with it for some odd reason (It's obnoxious when you come home, just want to watch the next episode, and it just isn't working today.)

I'd use XBMC+Plex if I really wanted Plex to be used mobile, but I'd never use Plex while I'm actually in the house to play content.
 

whoiswes

Senior member
Oct 4, 2002
850
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Personally, I use Plex for the library management features. Without me doing anything other than copying my media the proper folder, I get all of the appropriate media extras (trailer, rating, info, fanart, etc) plus centralized management of unwatched/watched/in-progess status across a myriad of devices.

XBMC can do all of that too - but only for XBMC clients. That's what's kept me using Plex, because my home theater downstairs running Openelec uses XBMC+Amber+Plex plugin, but the kids' TV upstairs uses a Roku 3. Plex serves up media flawlessly on both, and I get full bitstreaming downstairs, but I can stop in the middle of something, go upstairs, and continue on the Roku right where I left off (including having the audio downmixed to 2 channel since I don't have a receiver up there).

It just works for me. Do I think it's perfect? No, but considering the cost and the 5 minutes it took to install/configure and get my library scan started, it's worth it.

I will however be interested if anyone else has a killer setup they'd like to share - I'm always willing to tinker!
 

LifeIsOnTheWire

Junior Member
Jan 20, 2014
15
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XBMC can do all of that too - but only for XBMC clients.
I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean you own devices that don't have XBMC software available for them?

I don't use XBMC very much, but I was under the impression XBMC support for devices was much more widespread than Plex.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
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Whoiswes
You're doing it as well as you can with the items you have.

I wouldn't change a thing if I was you.
 

Gillbot

Lifer
Jan 11, 2001
28,830
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I use a nas to hold my media and use my PS3 to play it. I also use a small pc that runs an air video server pulling data from the nas. This allows my kids to watch video on their iPads also. Since air video transcodes for me, I don't have to worry about what format I put the shows onto the nas.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
121
I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean you own devices that don't have XBMC software available for them?

I don't use XBMC very much, but I was under the impression XBMC support for devices was much more widespread than Plex.
Plex is available on roku, xbox one, ps4, built into certain tvs or available via built in roku, etc.

I think people have no idea how to set up xbmc to get features that are built into plexs headless server.
Like people keep saying xbmc is only for one device which leads me to believe they don't know how to set up networked storage or use upnp server option on xbmc. Xbmc requires more knowledge to set up than plex. There are things I've customized about xbmc that I didn't know about awhile ago. I doubt there is much of anything I've missed on plex but on xbmc I missed a ton of features and have learned more and more as I've delved deeper into the capabilities.

I still haven't even touched pseudo TV live yet. I ain't ready for that lol.
 

Raincity

Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2000
4,475
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I use Plex because it runs with my current hardware and it does what I need it to do. When things change down the road. I will revaluate and change according to my needs and existing hardware.
 

whoiswes

Senior member
Oct 4, 2002
850
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76
Plex is available on roku, xbox one, ps4, built into certain tvs or available via built in roku, etc.

I think people have no idea how to set up xbmc to get features that are built into plexs headless server.
Like people keep saying xbmc is only for one device which leads me to believe they don't know how to set up networked storage or use upnp server option on xbmc. Xbmc requires more knowledge to set up than plex. There are things I've customized about xbmc that I didn't know about awhile ago. I doubt there is much of anything I've missed on plex but on xbmc I missed a ton of features and have learned more and more as I've delved deeper into the capabilities.

I still haven't even touched pseudo TV live yet. I ain't ready for that lol.
Yeah, that's my point - there's two components at play - the server and the client.

Since I have a multitude of clients (Chromebox w/Openelec, Roku, Chromecast, uPNP direct to my receiver, Android devices, etc) having a robust server is important. Plex does a great job (for my needs) of providing an interface where all of my clients can connect and everything can be centrally managed.

I'm sure XBMC could do everything Plex does from the server side, but honestly, Plex works so well (and provides transcoding, which I'm not sure XBMC will do) that it's not worth the effort. Again, this is mainly driven by the client side of things, which includes things like the Roku, which to my knowledge cannot directly hook into a XBMC library.

If I was an any way limited by Plex for streaming Blu-Ray rips to my theater, then I'd be looking at something else in a heartbeat. But, like I said before, being able to bitstream a 20MBps MKV with DTS-MA audio in my theater, then head upstairs and pick up the same file right where I left off on a Roku with only 2 channel audio is killer.

Like Raincity said, at this time this is the best setup for me - if something comes down the road tomorrow that's better, I'll probably move to it.
 

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