I got an email offer for a lifetime sub to Plex Pass for 84 bucks, and wonder if it’s worth it. When my aging Tivo dies I suppose it would be for DVR functionality (with appropriate hardware). Also nice to be able to d/l stuff to devices. Anything else?
If you actually use plex yes it’s worthwhile largely for the hardware transcoding. Or the DVR, I suppose. I don’t use that.
I don’t use the DVR as much as I thought I would. After all, I can get CBS programs through Paramount+, ABC and Fox through Hulu, NBC through Peacock, PBS through the PBS app. So there’s actually less need for a DVR these days than when I first got Plex Lifetime, it turns out. Back then there was no Paramount+/CBS app, so I used to record shows off CBS like Amazing Race, Survivor, Colbert, etc. But there’s no need for that now with Paramount+.
Still, it’s nice to be able to record, for example, live sporting events sometimes if I can’t be at home to see them. Plus it’s nice to have access to the guide to see when shows will be on, even if I don’t necessarily record them.
I mostly use PLEX as a music server to reach my collection remotely, but it is great for that.
Depends on if you want/need any of the paid features, I suppose?
I love Plexamp and the Skip Intro and hardware transcoding are nice to haves. Not having to pay for the mobile apps is nice but those’re only 5 bucks.
I don’t use the DVR functionality much/at all. It worked fine when I did. The OTA live streaming is part of the free package if you’re watching live.
There’s also the thought of throwing them some money to support the product if that’s your thing.
Fwiw I recently reinstalled my computer and was about to install Plex, but then hesitated. I’ve gotten annoyed at some of the nagging to pay (I just want to stream videos from my computer to my TV mostly), but they’ve also changed the apps to put their trailers and offering first. So when I open the Plex app on my fire tv or phone it doesn’t default to my computer, but instead I have to go several clicks in to get to my computer.
I instead tried installing Jellyfin (https://jellyfin.org/) which is an open source system. So far I’m pretty happy with it. For my use cases it’s worked well so far to my android phone and chromebook (haven’t downloaded the Fire TV app yet). It doesn’t really seem to offer any disadvantages to plex for my use case.
I haven’t put a lot of time into playing with Jellyfin or Emby, because they lack one very important thing-- apps on every platform in the world. Plex has that, so if you have family/friends streaming your content, there’s a lot more friction using those other services.
Oh hey, that sounds like another benefit of the lifetime pass then. I haven’t been nagged to pay or have had to see any trailers or offerings.
I’m pretty sure you can still rearrange your left panel and whatnot to put your shared servers first.
You can disable all the various Plex TV and discovery features too, although I rather like their brand-new discovery stuff, it’s basically Justwatch.com built-in to Plex.
They did push Discovery on everyone when it launched - which was annoying but easy enough to opt out of. Over time I’ve pulled all of their stuff off my sidebar and stick with my personal media exclusively.
Of course the one web-sourced media type I did want they pulled the plug on this month (Podcasts). Now there are certainly better tools for podcasts but it was nice to have a one stop shop for all my media.
Right, Plex will push new stuff at you but I’ve never run into anything I couldn’t simply disable.
I was surprised they pulled podcasts. I don’t use it in Plex, but it seemed to work fine.
Jellyfin looks pretty good! I’ve been using serviio for years as the free version does just fine, but having a specific chrome cast client instead of DNLA (can’t find a good google tv native client) would be great.
Another vote for the lifetime pass being worth it. I have an HDHomeRun tuner that I occasionally use with the DVR, and the various other features are nice. I’ve looked at the alternatives and nothing really beats Plex, particulary since it’s available for every video-related device I have.
Pairs well with PlayOn for recording if you don’t want to be beholden to streaming windows. (Tip: If you find yourself interested in PlayOn, subscribe for the free trial, and then cancel at the end of the trial. You’ll get a discounted offer to continue the subscription.)
There are dozens of us!
@stusser did you have good lucky with Jellyfin? The interface looks nice but the playback looks pretty awful - lots of dropped frames even when not transcoding (using the official app for android TV for my google TV). Back to serviio for me.
It’s barely worth it, but it’s a one time cost for lifetime, so I figured I may as well buy it. I do use skip intro and hardware encoding.
So all encoding is otherwise done by the CPU (without Plex Pass, lifetime or otherwise)?
Yes, without the pass it’s all on the CPU.
But if everything is working properly, you don’t need to reencode Plex videos on the fly very often. And if you do, any CPU from Haswell forward can do 2 or 3 at once. So it doesn’t matter much unless you have multiple people viewing at once, and all unable to view ‘original quality’ for whatever reason, so encoding speed is rarely a bottleneck. It does make that a bit more responsive when skipping.
It might be important for converting HDR to non HDR, 4k, and other more serious encoding things.
No, I played around with it then realized I’d have to convince everybody to install different apps, then I realized there were no apps for some platforms and gave up on it. That was 2-3 years ago though.
Regarding hardware transcoding, there are exceptions for Plex Media Server running on embedded platforms. I know the Nvidia ShieldTV can hardware transcode without plex pass, and I think there are some WD NAS devices that do it too.
Software transcoding a 1080p HEVC file to 480p h264 used around 350% of my 4 CPU cores on an i5-7500t (I have 3 of em in a Proxmox cluster to run all my stuff). With hardware it was like 70%.
You typically don’t need to transcode inside your house at all, but when remote and bandwidth limited it’s very helpful. Also if you share your Plex server with people you’ll find them completely unable to turn on direct viewing, even after you bug them about it, oh, thirty times in a row.
I’m using a mobile Ivybridge i3 processor in an old laptop for my media server so having hardware encoding makes a pretty big difference for me.