In our last article, we talked about some streaming options for your house.
For in home streaming of your own local files (anything from downloaded stuff, pictures, music, etc), there are many options, Windows Media Center, XMBC (and other flavors of it like Media Portal), etc, that go above what basic DLNA gives you.
We have tried and ran most of them.. while all of them were great, wonderful interface, etc.. many were not always easy to set up, etc.
That is one place, where PLEX stood out.
You have TWO options, for running your Plex Media server. PC based or on a NAS.
PC supports installation on Windows, Mac, 3 flavors of Linux and FreeBSD.
NAS wise, can install on Netgear, QNAP, unRAID, drobo, asustor, Synology.
Compared to the others.. Setup is relatively simple and straight forward, most users can do it on their own.
Management is done, through a simple web interface… that can be accessed from the PC its installed on, but also is its own small web server, so can be accessed via the IP(and port) of that device on your local network.
To play back media FROM the Plex server, you have a HUGE range of options.
Mobile: iOS on iPhone/iPod and iPad, Android (via google, amazon and ouya), and windows phone 8
Smart Streaming devices: Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, Roku, GoogleTV and Samsung all have apps for it (older LG smart TVs do as well, though the newer TVs do not)
There is also the option for the PC version, called Plex Home Theatre, which can be run on a HTPC or any PC at all, on a separate one from the server or the same.
Worse case scenario, if you have a device which can not do any of the above.. Plex will also run as a DLNA server as well.
Plex playback software is pretty smart, and will go out and find any server on the local network you are on, no having to enter a server address, etc.
Plex can take the connectivity a step farther.. and extend it OUTSIDE of your house as well.
This require some port forwarding on your Router end.. but by doing so, and creating a login (which you sign your server and playback devices in with)… you can now access your media center, via any Plex app logged in as you, from anywhere else.
You can get access to the management interface from external. (which actually DOES do playback via the web browser as well). Plex mobile, etc apps, can access the media for playback as well, on wifi, cellular, etc.
(with this, please be aware of your USAGEs on your regular internet as well as your cellular. Streaming from device to device internal to your house will not use up any usage. BUT accessing your server from outside, you will use up UPLOAD usage, as well as if on cellular, you might use up cellular data as well)
We have helped set up a number of people with a PLEX solution.. and with a decently organized library to start… you can be fully set up, sometimes within 30 minutes or less!