This article will feature Plex Media Center which looks extreme potential to become my HTPC front end. Here are the highlights why this media center software made particularly good first impression.
According to plexapp.com, “Plex bridges the gap between your Mac and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media. The real power of Plex is found in its library features: Organize your media into versatile libraries, automatically retrieve metadata from the Internet, and display your libraries using one of the visually stunning skins.”
Excellent library functionality
I have to agree particularly with the library functionality as it seems to integrate very well with my existing iTunes library making podcasts and music instantly available. Pictures section also handles iPhoto and Aperture libraries automatically. However, I discovered that my movies and TV shows in iTunes library where not automatically available, but I needed to browse the folders separately to make them available.
Supports various media formats
Support for different media file formats is very good and it should play with ease most files you have on your computer. Adding network hard drive was also easier than in other media centers. Streaming over the home network worked well on the first try.
User friendly features
Favorites section is another useful functionality that I have not discovered in other media center software. This means that I can save frequently used sections or locations as my favorites for quick and easy access.
Supports mouse as a remote
The look and feel is a mixture between Apple’s FrontRow and XBMC Media Center, but it has a few advantages over them. Compared to FrontRow, Plex supports mouse which is important as I use Logitech MX Air mouse to control my media center. Unfortunately, navigating with mouse was not so comfortable at first, but after modifying mouse scroll sensitivity and custom buttons, MX Air mouse felt good to use. Plex also supports remote controls and iPhone apps like RowMote.
Video podcasts are automatically organized
Another useful functionality is that the podcast only shows video files in the Videos section, so I do not need to separate music and other audio programs from the music. Another benefit is the support to online media such as Youtube, Hulu, Netflix and many more. This has been downside with FrontRow as I have not been able to access widely to online video. iTunes music files are all supported which has been my issue with other media centers expect FrontRow. On online video side, social media center Boxee is a clear competitor, but for some reason I found Plex’s user interface a lot more calmer and fitted better to my living room.