I currently own a 2009 Mac Mini that I purchased for the sole use as a personal media centre. Before downloading the Plex App, from the strong recommendation of a friend, I was finding that watching video files was becoming a little irritating and tiresome, constantly having to restart Quicktime between each TV episode and every movie. With Plex I easily navigate the menus between TV shows, seasons and episodes. The App also keeps track of which episodes I have watched, half viewed and finished. Essentially Plex is now my personal media centre for my video files.
Plex can be run on a Windows desktop, laptop, iPhone/iPad, or like myself have a Mac Mini hooked up to your LCD television. It really brings new media to life into your living room in a way that the Apple TV kind of struggles with, in my opinion.
Originally installing the Plex Version 8 Application onto my Mac Mini was a very easy task. It was up and running without any issues once answering a few questions regarding video directories. Plex then continued to grab all the video data on my Mac Mini, leaping through hyperspace to another level of functionality, pulling posters for all of your files automatically. Every time thereafter firing up Plex means it scans your folders, sees the new files, runs to the internet, grabs art, in addition to plot synopsis, cast, running time, and a ton of other info, and displays it. Done, Just like that. With an upgrade to version 9 Plex is now even more stunning and smoother, I could not be more happier.
The screenshot does more to illustrate how beautiful this program can be than any words I can string together. I will simply say it’s everything I could ask for in a graphical interface. The transitions are smooth and intuitive. And the art…oh, the art! I’ve always been a fan of movie posters and Plex displays them beautifully for all of the titles in my collection.
Some of my most prized media files are entire series of my favorite TV shows, The Office and Lost, for instance, are shows I really treasure. I have an external hard drive with a directory named “TV Shows” with all of my files stored in a very simple structure. I create a folder with the show’s title and sub folders for each season then drop the episodes inside. Plex reads these files and divides them automatically into seasons and attached plots/titles to each episode, just like it does with films. Plex can be particular if files are not named correctly, after a bit of study into my directory problems, I found naming each file S01E01 (Season One, Episode One) made it easier for Plex to decipher episode information.
One way a media manager can really shine is how it handles a large number of files. In this case by shuffling my seasons of TV into an easily accessible library. Plex shreds through this task by creating a structure that’s intuitive, informative, and unimposing for anyone to navigate.
At first I found navigation with Plex via a keyboard was difficult. Downloading the iPhone App with remote included assisted with navigating the program, but again restarting the iPhone App after each episode was annoying, (yes, I’m fussy). Now that my friend has given me his old Apple Remote the program is at my figure tips within seconds, and my viewing pleasure has increased. Softly pressing the menu button to launch Plex, scrolling to my desired show and pressing play. I could be in viewing heaven.
Plex is hands-down the finest media manager and player available. Gorgeous and exponentially more flexible than Front Row, it rules HD playback, handling 1080p material with ease. If you’re the type of person who worries about how much work maintaining a media center can be, worry no longer. Videos just show up, album artwork and movie covers manage to appear on their own, and best yet, managing television show series all seems to be automated. The less time I have to think about organizing my files for Plex, the more I’m likely to recommend it. The Plex team has really done an excellent job with this application.
4 out of 5 Stars
Mars on Life.