Plex is the most under rated app for streaming out there. If you haven’t heard of Plex, it is an application that will enable you to stream any local content you may have to your television via your preferred streaming device. For instance, in this digital world we live in everyone has digital pictures and home videos stored on your phones, cameras and personal computers that we never look at simply because it’s a hassle. Plex will end that hassle for you. The Plex app is a one-time $5 fee to add the channel to your streaming device. Although, it is now free for the Roku! There is also a paid monthly subscription called Plex Pass that adds some functionality, but it is not necessary. The Plex Media Server is free.
To get started with Plex, you will need a Plex server. If you set up that PC as a DVR, you can install the Plex Media Server on that. If not, any PC that you have that can be left on when ever you want to stream something will work. Once you install the media server it will add an icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. Right click on the icon, then click Media manager. That will open your internet browser and go to the Plex page. You will need to create an account and then it will walk you through the set up. It will ask for a “friendly name” I just use Media PC. Click next and then it will prompt you to add libraries. Libraries are how you access you local content. TV shows, movies, pictures, home movies. Create folders on your PC for each of these and tell Plex where they are. After you add all of your libraries click next. The next page will prompt you to add channels. At this point it only offers a very few channels. There are lots more. Click next and you are done with the Plex walk through. To add more channels to your Plex, from your home page, click the Channels link on the left side. Next click install channels. This will bring you to the channel directory. Click the categories link and then click whichever category interests you. TV is a popular category. In the TV category there is A&E, CNN, The CW, Spike, just to name a few. Before you exit out of your Media Manager there is one more important setting to change. Go back to your home page by clicking the house icon on the top left. Next click the wrench icon on the top right. Now click the server link and then the library link on the left side. In here there are some check boxes. Check the box that says, “Update my library automatically.” Checking this box will tell Plex to monitor your folders for any changes and automatically add them to your library so you can stream the content to your TV. That’s it, you’re done with set up.
Open the Plex app on your TV. You should see your libraries. If they are not completely populated, give it some time. If you have just installed the Media Manager it takes some time for it to sync everything. You can now view your pictures and home video from any TV in your house with a streaming device with the Plex app installed. From the Plex home screen on your TV go up one click. This is where you will find the channels you added.
If you are using a smart TV instead of a streaming device like Roku, you may or may not be able to get the Plex app on the TV. However, most smart TVs have some sort of app to stream local content. The Plex Media Server works with *most* of these.
If you set up a machine to run Plex, you can set it up as your home server.