From long flights and endless layovers to hotels with the same selection of boring channels, travel can leave you longing for the media you left at home—unless you’ve discovered Plex. Thanks to the company’s client-server media player system and software suite, music lovers, movie buffs and binge watchers can now access their media libraries from anywhere in the world.
Centralized Media Storage
Plex began as a passion project for the company’s co-founders, Elan Feingold and Scott Olechowski. Inspired by XBMC—a free, open-source media player software application—they decided to develop a program that would enable users to centralize media storage in one location that they could then access at home or remotely.
“Back then, people had a lot of Blu-rays and DVDs in large collections that took up a lot of real estate,” explained Jason Williams, Plex’s director of product and growth. “They wanted to have a great experience when viewing that media—and XBMC was doing a really good job with that—but they were also tired of physically rummaging through their collections and being confined to that space. Plex enabled them to store their full collection digitally, as well as browse and watch it all on the screen of their chosen device.”
Browse and Play Your Movies, Music and More on Any Device
“The Plex Media Server is really the brains of the operation,” Williams said.
Available for free download on an impressive number of platforms, the Plex Media Server scans and organizes the user’s media before enhancing the library with additional meta data such as ratings and poster art.
“Once you have set up and configured the Plex Media Server, free Plex Apps act as the display and user interface for navigating your collections,” Williams continued. “If it has a screen, there is probably a Plex App available for it. This includes any media streaming devices such as Amazon Fire, gaming systems, all of the mobile platforms, and even Android tablets. We also pre-ship on a lot of TVs such as those made by Samsung.”
He noted that while the company’s average user is pretty tech-savvy, these individuals are usually setting up their Plex Media Servers for use by their families.
“For most people, the setup takes only five to 10 minutes,” he said. “They just have to create some libraries and point to some folders. It doesn’t have to be a challenge, although we have tons of advance configurations for the power users as well.”
While anyone can download and use the Plex Media Server and Plex Apps for free, purchasing a Plex Pass will unlock additional valuable features including the ability to synch your library to a mobile device as well as watch and record your favorite live broadcast TV channels.
“I highly recommend the Plex Pass,” Williams added. “We have monthly, yearly and lifetime subscriptions, with the monthly subscription only $4.99. You get access to every feature that Plex offers, and we add new Plex Pass features regularly.”
An Entertainment Lifesaver for Traveling Families
Because the Plex Media Server and Plex Apps allow you to access your media library from anywhere, Williams said it’s especially useful for families that travel.
“With the Plex Pass, you can synch some of your library content—like your last few recently added movies—to your mobile device,” he explained. “The app will actually download and transcode that media into the appropriate format for you to take with you. Then, once you’re on the plane or in the cab, you can watch movies without needing any access to the Internet.”
For users who want to take more than a few movies along on their vacation, Williams recommends installing the Plex Media Server on a WD Passport Pro.
“It will act not just as a media server, but as a travel-read storage device that fits in the palm of your hand,” he said. “You can take your entire collection on a trip with you and multiple users can access it at once. For example, if you’re on a flight with your family, everyone can connect to the device individually.”
Finally, “We added live TV and DVR last year,” he said. “All of your DVR content can go straight into your media server. You can then access it, along with live TV, while you’re on the go. I do this all the time. When I’m staying in another state or even another country, I can still watch my live broadcast channels from my home. It’s pretty cool and definitely a differentiator for us.”