Plex is good software. It’s a media player that makes it easy to play downloaded video on a TV. The mainstream market does not provide reasonable solutions for playing Internet video like Indie Game: The Movie. Plex fills the void nicely. There’s a bunch of competing media center apps; what’s important is the user interface, the remote, and the ease of playing video in any format. Plex is the best of the lot I’ve tried. Here’s a video demo of something like my setup.

My player is a jailbroken AppleTV 2 with Plex. I haven’t kept up with the current jailbreak scene, but Seas0nPass at Firecore is a good place to start. I think there’s no jailbreak for the new AppleTV 3 yet, so this may be a bad time to be buying the hardware. There’s other AV hardware that runs Plex, and there are also Plex clients on desktop computers and iPads.

My remote is a URC. The device is clunky but we already had it and the actual control part is rock solid. The AppleTV 2 remote is infrared only (dumb!), the URC is radio. Another option is to use an iPhone to control the AppleTV via WiFi.

My server is Plex Media Server running on a Linux box with my video files. The Plex server transcodes while playing so you can play back pretty much any video format without having to convert ahead of time. I used to think transcoding on the player itself was better (a la Boxee), but I’ve come around.

We’ve had 10 years of Internet video and there’s still no good consumer way to play downloads on a TV. You’d think the convergence would have happened by now. Instead the best mainstream option is still Tivo, a device that gets worse with every revision. In the meantime Netflix and Amazon are doing a complete end run around the mainstream market. I wish it would all just come together already.

  2012-06-20 16:23 Z