Plex – Review
App Type: Uncategorized
By: Plex Inc
Version #: 1.0
Date Released: 2010-08-31
Price: 4.99User Rating:
Even at its highest, the iPhone 4 taps out at 32GBs of space to hold your apps, music, and videos. In the case of the latter, it can be hard to decide which TV shows and movies to bring with you on a trip, and it never fails that when you leave you wish you had brought this show, or that movie. For the media junkie in all of us there is an option for accessing all your medic you store in that giant RAID at home. Plex for the iPhone and iPad offers a solution for not only your home media, but for online content as well.
Plex on OSX is a version of XBMC (Xbox Media Center) that gives you a media center interface for cataloging and playing your media. I won’t go into the desktop app, but the app does come with a background server that will catalog and make available your media to the iOS app. If you are simply interested in serving media to your iPhone, then install Plex and configure it so it can find your media folders. The desktop server will go about cataloging your collection and you will not have to leave the media center app running on your desktop.
Once this is done you can connect to the server from your iPhone app. The app offers multiple connections for any given server, which allows you to connect to the server by its local network ip, as well as an external ip. The settings let you select the quality of the video when on Wifi, but not when on 3G.
Once connected your can browse your library and play any video or music even those that are not formatted with MPEG4. The Plex server will convert the video file on the fly while streaming. This is where the app becomes even more interesting. Plex has a large number of plugins for access to various online content. This included big names like Hulu and Netflix, as well as other content providers like Miro and Joost. These can all be accessed from the iPhone app and streamed to your iPhone. For services like Hulu this could be an option for those opposed to paying $9.99 and watching commercials on the official Hulu app.
Not for the let down. After trying various locations and content, the video quality was poor at best when streaming on 3G. I don’t know if the streaming protocols could be improved or if perhaps my upstream connection at home is simply not up to par, but I have seem very high quality video on 3G from other apps. This is not as much of a problem when I am connected to WiFi on the iPhone. Your milage may vary, but remember that it takes a lot of bandwidth to stream video so for those on a limited data plan you may want to keep a close eye on your 3G usage. The other let down is that there is no way to play content purchased from iTunes store. I had hoped there would be some sort of work around since the video is technically being processed on the desktop and then streamed by the server to the iPhone. Plex is open source so perhaps in the future someone will figure this out.
Plex is not for everyone and will require some moderate computer knowledge to set up the server and instal plugins, but there are plenty of tutorials online so it shouldn’t be too hard to get this running if the caveats have not scared you away.
Would I Buy Again:Maybe
Who Is It For:People with lots of media on their desktop computer
What I Like:Being able to stream online content not normally available to iPhone users
What I Don't Like:Server requires a large upstream bandwidth at your home to stream video
Final Statement:Plex gives you the ability to stream virtually anything from your desktop
??? YOU MUST HAVE THE SERVER INSTALLED AND RUNNING TO STREAM MEDIA ???
The application also functions as a full-featured remote for the Plex Media Center application.
The media is streamed directly from your Mac, and there is no need to convert before viewing. You can stream over the Internet over 3G, but you will need to set up port forwarding to do so.
??? YOU MUST BE SAVVY ENOUGH TO CONFIGURE PORT FORWARDING ON YOUR ROUTER ???
• Any iPhone or iPod Touch running iPhone OS 3.0 or higher.
• An Intel Mac running Mac OS 10.5 or later.
• The Plex Media Server, which is part of the Plex Media Center, available at https://www.plexapp.com
• In order to transcode to 720p (on the iPad and iPhone 4), you need at least a 2.2GHz processor.
Article By Nathan Kline
Nathan has been an avid Apple user and advocate since the days of the Apple ][. He has always sought to find new ways to make use of technology to assist his daily life. As a paramedic in southern California Nathan brings his familiarity with technology to the field, and at whatsoniphone.com he brings his critical thinking to he analysis of apps and news. You has also written app reviews for the mobile app site Smokinapps.com.
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