Just recently Make Tech Easier walked through the process of setting up a media server in your home. While there are several solutions for this, we elected to go with one of the most popular options, which is Plex. The software is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and NAS. The end-client is also very versatile, with apps for not only computers, but also numerous set-top boxes like Roku and Google TV. It will also play media on mobile devices on your home network, and that’s where we are heading today.
In this case, we are going to take a look at how the app works on an Android device. Thanks to the app being available in both the Google Play and Amazon app stores, this means you can get it for virtually any Android phone or tablet – providing it is a reasonably recent model.
I had no issues installing it on several devices, but for the purposes of this walk-through I am using a Kindle Fire HDX, mainly because it happens to have a nice case/stand in the form of the Origami, which makes it convenient for media.
As you can see, the app, unlike the server, is not free. In fact, it is regularly $4.99, but happens to have been on a holiday sale at the time the above image was grabbed. The regular price is the same, regardless if you get it from Google or Amazon.
Once installed, you will be prompted to log into your MyPlex account upon first startup. This is not something that is necessary for you to have, but it’s free. I’ll leave the decision up to you.
Regardless of your decision, the first screen you will come across after passing the sign-in page is the “on-deck” feature. This is where Plex displays the most recent unwatched videos you have waiting for your viewing attention.
The menu, which is rather small at the top of the screen, but to the left of the On Deck section you will find options for Recently Added, Queue and Recommended. Moving to the right displays My Library, Channels and Shared Libraries.
My Library is perhaps the biggest thing to focus upon here, as this is where you can get to virtually all of your media, or at least all that you have stored in Plex. This can include TV shows, movies, photos, music, home videos — whatever you have set up.
Channels is another key feature. You will have to enable it from your server, but there are numerous channels to choose from. Want the NFL Network? It’s there. Looking for cool technology shows? Plex has plenty of those available as well. You certainly won’t find everything you are looking for, but I doubt also that you will find this disappointing.
There are also Settings, which you can access by clicking the three-dot icon at the top right corner of the screen. From here you can sync the device to make sure you have the latest media at your fingertips, as well control things such your device name and the background art as well as a few other options that you likely don’t need to mess with.
Plex for Android is well worth the small fee it requires. The convenience of carrying a smartphone or tablet around your home and still being able to watch a movie or TV show, even listen to all of your music is worth the price. You will have to be within WiFi range and logged into your home network (Plex can get you around this, but you’ll have to pay for that service).
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