(10/10)

I’ve been using XBMC on my old Xbox as a media center for a few years now and it has served me well. In fact, it is still serving me well, but it doesn’t have the horsepower to get HD content onto my TV. It also doesn’t have some of the features that I’m after in a media center.

Plex for Mac

Plex for Mac

Some time ago I started playing with the free app Plex (Plex was born out of XBMC) on my iMac at home and I was very impressed with what it could do. The only problem was that my iMac was nowhere near my TV and it is used for all sorts of things other than watching movies or listening to music.

I lost interest in the application as I didn’t see a way to integrate it with my existing media setup. I was sad to see it go as the interface was really slick, it worked with the Apple remote (it actually doesn’t work with the mouse at all 🙂 and it was exceptionally good at going to sites like imdb.com and tv.com to fetch movie posters, box art, plot outlines and theme music.


I’m now in the process of putting together a new setup which I think is the ultimate combination of features and cost.

An older Mac mini

An older Mac mini

You can pick up an older Mac mini with the appropriate video adapter for a pretty decent price and it will easily deliver the goodness I’m after (just make sure that it has at least a 1.8Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo if you want HD). It will run Mac OS X and will boot straight into Plex. I’ll use an Apple remote (with a view to upgrade to a Logitech Harmony at some point) to control the whole setup, with the option to use a wireless keyboard and mouse if I need to hop onto the Internet or use iTunes. I use my iMac as a NAS (it has Terabytes of external firewire storage courtesy of Lacie) so all I’ll have to do is point the Plex at my “Movies”, “TV Series” and “Music” shares and it will do the rest. Depending on the size of your media library it will take some time for Plex to go and fetch all the stuff it needs from the Internet to populate its database with the relevant text, images and sound and then you’re set. Sit back on the couch and enjoy.

Logitech Harmony

Logitech Harmony


Whenever you add something to your media library, Plex automatically detects it and goes and fetches everything it needs. For TV shows it automatically sorts everything into seasons, it keeps track of what you’ve already watched and plays the theme music in the background while you’re choosing and episode.

Plex also has plug-ins for just about every decent media service on the Internet: Hulu, TED, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Flickr and iPhoto, just to name few. So even if you don’t have your own media on a local server, you have access to hours of entertainment at your fingertips.

 

It almost seems to easy, but with the initial testing I’ve done and reports from other people on the Internet, I’m confident that it will be money well spent and will see me well into the future.

 

Plex showing you everything you need to know about BSG

Plex showing you everything you need to know about BSG