That is how media server Plex works

Internet & Home

Not so long ago, Kodi was the best boy in the class when it came to media software for managing and playing video and music. The competition has not been idle, however, and more and more people are moving from Kodi to Plex. But what is Plex really and how does it work?

Tip 01: Kodi versus Plex

This article is not meant to take Kodi off. Kodi is a fantastic program with which a lot is possible. Only the user interface is by no means always pleasant and the program seems mostly aimed at people who are not afraid to dive into a program. Plex has a much finer and more user-friendly interface and is available for almost all platforms. There are also disadvantages: with Plex, you can do a little less and for the most useful functions (eg sharing videos with other devices) you have to pay. But the basis of the program is free.

Tip 01 Like Kodi, Plex is derived from XBMC but is completely different in terms of content and interface.

Tip 02: Install Plex

To install Plex, surf to and click on Downloads in the upper right corner. Then click on the page that appears on Download and chooses the right platform. You immediately see that Plex is available for an incredible number of platforms. iOS and Android can not be found in this overview, but Plex is available for these platforms, you will only need to download the apps in the dedicated app store. You can click through the installation process of Plex without any worries, you do not have to worry about installing all kinds of extra software. When you start the program after the installation, it does not seem that much will happen at first. That is because the program is loaded in the system tray at the bottom right. Double click on the Plex icon to open the program (that happens in your browser). Then you have to log in or create an account if you do not already have one. You can do that via Facebook (do you dare?) Or Google, although you still have to create a password afterward. Immediately afterward you are logged in and ready to use the service.

Tip 02 Plex is available on a lot of platforms.

Tip 03: Interface

The first thing you will notice about Plex’s interface is that it is in your browser, as described earlier. That is, of course, getting used to after Kodi, but it is very nice, especially because the interface is very light and fast in this way. The layout of the interface is simple. In the left-hand window, you will find the navigation options for the various functions of Plex and everything that you click on will be opened in the right-hand pane. At the top right, you will find shortcuts to, among other things, the settings of the program and your account notifications. Settings can also be found in the left-hand pane in the home screen, but this menu is not always visible.

Tip 03 In contrast to Kodi, the Plex interface is completely in your browser.

Tip 04: Quality

Before we get started with Plex it is useful to first adjust some settings, so that the program works exactly as we want. Click the icon with the tool at the top right to open the Plex settings. There will be a lot of institutions here that you can not make chocolate from. We also let it go well for what it is, in this case, it’s about the basics. The Settings menu has two tab levels. First, you choose the part that you want to change at the top, then choose the subsection in the left-hand window. By default, you enter the main Web tab under the General subtab. Here you choose the default language of the program and indicate whether you want background music (not relevant, but fun). When you click on the Quality sub-tab, you can indicate whether Plex can adjust the quality yourself based on your internet connection. You can also indicate what the standard quality should be for streaming. If your connection often falters, you can lower this quality a bit.

Tip 05: Movie trailers

There are people who find film trailers to be blood-irritated when they go to the cinema. We do not belong to that group, simply because it is nice to see what other films will soon be admired. Plex has a very simple but super fun feature that allows you to see trailers from movies before you watch the main video. So you still feel at home in the cinema. You enable this function by clicking on the Player subtab and in the drop-down menu next to Cinema trailers to play for films to choose how many trailers to show. Click on the main tab Server and then on sub-tab Extras, then you can indicate what kind of trailers must be shown (note: for certain options in this menu you need a Plex Pass).

Tip 06: Libraries

Just like Kodi (and virtually all other media software), Plex uses libraries. By default, the program shows two libraries, namely Photos and Music (we will briefly discuss each library below). When you move your mouse over the heading Libraries, you see a plus sign on the right. Click on this and you will see that you can also add other libraries yourself, such as Movies and TV Series. Suppose you want to add movies, then click Movies, give the library a name (though the default name is Movies ), select a language (for the movie information) and click Next. Now click Browse to the media folder and tell Plex in which folder the movie files are located. When you have done this, the items will initially have no image and information. But the program goes almost immediately and within a few seconds, your films have a movie poster, synopsis in the language you have entered, release date and so on. Of course, this does not apply to holiday videos, as the program simply selects a frame from the video as a cover photo.

Tip 07: Photos

When you click on the library Photos, you will see that Plex has been free to fill this library with the files from the library Images on your PC (if available of course). The great thing about Plex is that the program does much more than just show your photos in one big heap. When you click on a photo, you can add a name at the bottom and a description in the field. You can also add the photo to your favorites (by clicking on the heart) or to an album. Finally, you can also assign tags to a photo (which is always useful if you also want to be able to search on all photos of a certain person, for example). You can have photos play as a slideshow by clicking on the play at the bottom. You can stream this slideshow to your television by clicking on the cast icon (square with Wi-Fi signal) at the top. If you purchase a Plex Pass, you can also have photos tagged automatically on the basis of the person you see on it (face recognition).

Tip 08: Videos

We have already indicated that Plex automatically looks up all kinds of information about the films you import into the program and that is more than just a nice gimmick. You can also sort your films (and series) for all this information. When you click on the library Films, you can sort at the top by title, release date, rating, actor, director, you name it. Of course, you can also use the search field at the top to search for this type of information. This is one of the reasons we like Plex so much. There is no more intuitive program for managing your media collection. Moreover, the interface never falters, even with a thousand titles. We also recommend that you create a separate library for films and for home videos, simply because it looks a lot more efficient. You can also tag videos as well as tags and add them to albums so that you can bundle series (think Terminator, Die Hard, Harry Potter).

Tip 09: Music

For the library, Music Plex scans the library of the same name in Windows. It can, of course, be (just like with photos and videos) that your music is in a different folder or that there are multiple folders with music. You can then easily extend your library. Move your mouse over the name of the library you want to expand, click on the three dots that appear and then click Edit. In the menu that appears, click Add folders in the left pane, and then click Browse to Media folder. Select the desired folder and click Add. Just like with Films, the library will look a bit cluttered at first, but soon the right covers will be found (and it is surprising how much Plex finds). In terms of music, Plex offers the options that you can expect from a program like this: shuffle, repeat, playlists, albums, tags and so on. You can also show lyrics, but you need a Plex Pass for that.

You can easily expand your library by adding more folders

Tip 10: Plex Pass

We already mentioned him a few times, the Plex Pass. Where virtually everything you can do in Kodi is free, that is unfortunately not the case with Plex. The big question is: do you need a Plex Pass? That depends entirely on what you want to do with the program. If you only want to use Plex to manage your films and music on your PC, then you do not need such a card. But if you really want to use your iPhone to view/listen to the content of your PC without any problems, then you do need a Plex Pass. The question is whether it is worth it. A Plex Pass costs 4.99 euros per month, 39.99 euros per year or 119.99 euros for the rest of your life (or as long as Plex stays in the air of course). At the time of writing, promotional code ‘march’ still works, for that, you can try the Plex Pass for a month for free. If you connect a tuner to your PC, you can also record TV programs with a Plex Pass, but this will naturally become more complex.

Tip 11: Sharing content

One of the main reasons why we would take a Plex Pass is sharing content. When you have purchased the card, download the app for the device you want to view content on and log in to the same Plex account as on the other device. Sharing is now childishly simple. You can select a movie, series, song and so on your PC, and cast it to your smartphone, for example, by clicking on the cast button on the top right and then selecting your smartphone (this is automatically shown when Plex is running on it). Or you select your PC in the smartphone app at Locations at the top and browse from there through your library. It works super fast and extremely easy. It is a pity that you need a Plex Pass for it, but we have not seen it so user-friendly yet.

Tip 12: Plug-ins

Just like Kodi, you can expand Plex with the help of all kinds of plug-ins. We say immediately: it is not as extensive as with Kodi (and you do not have to expect many options for illegal downloading of films and series). In the left pane, click Plugins, and then click the Install Plugins button at the top right. You will find all kinds of nice channels, such as iTunes Movie Trailers, Vimeo and so on.

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