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Plex?

rontaylo

Member
I have used Plex on OS X, Linux, and Windows. The interface is stunning, and there are a wide assortment of apps that will play the movies on any client, even an iPad.
Definitely not user-friendly. Setup is as painful as xbmc is, and playback is unpredictable, as the server actually has to transcode the stream. So, your viewing experience varies based on the power of your server, and streams are limited depending on the type of movie you are watching.
It has a lot of more options than xbmc (someone developed a plex server for a NetGear ReadyNas box, and there is a client that goes in Samsung blu-ray players and televisions).
I used to own a K-scape a long time ago, and I figured I would try out some other technological setups to save some money, as three kids in college at the same time hamper my finances, and your job freezes your salary when you deploy overseas.
I bought a Netgear ReadyNas Pro 6000. I chose this box because it had the most flexibility (a community of add-ins to expand the functionality of the box, 6 slots that could take up to 3 TB each, a proprietary RAID system that would allow me to mix and match HDs on the fly, dual gigabit NICs, and a Plex server that was developed for it).
I then purchased a Samsung BD 5700 and added the Plex client to it.
Getting to the point where you can watch a movie is pretty painful. You have to copy the movie in digital format, upload the file to the NAS, get the appropriate cover art and info files in the proper place, update the Plex library, then you are ready to watch the movie.
Well, after all that, the interface is limited to what it can display (a single row of movies like iTunes' cover flow), and there is a lag in response. On some movies the audio gets out of sync really bad (the larger files), and some stutter to the point where they are not watchable.
The NAS does a pretty good job of serving the movie, but the Samsung client needs a lot of work.
There is a free iPad client that allows me to watch the movie collection, and that seems to work really well, but I need the theater experience.
Plex has a lot of flexibility, but if you have seen xbmc, you have seen Plex. They were essentially developed by the same group, that eventually split apart for ideological differences. More flexible than xbmc, due to it being true client/server, but requires all the power in the server, where as xbmc uses the power of the client.
Overall, because my wife is not technically savvy, it was not a happy time. You really dont appreciate a Kscape until you have had it in your house for awhile, and anyone who came over, no matter how technically challenged they were, could watch a movie.
 

JDS

Well-known member
Thanks for the review.

I like the idea of being able to watch stored content on an iPad. Not so sure about the rest of the user experience though.

An acquaintance of mine has a substantial collection on an xbmc that works well but he does admit that it is also hobby that takes a lot of hours to get the result he has achieved.
 

glr-fti

Well-known member
Authorized Kaleidescape Dealer
Thanks for the review.

I like the idea of being able to watch stored content on an iPad. Not so sure about the rest of the user experience though.

The new ReQuest Maestro app allows you to stream your movies to your iPad. If you have a 3G/4G iPad you can watch movies remotely on your iPad.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
Plex can now stream full 1:1 Blu-Ray rips with DTS HD-MA and Dolby TrueHD pass-thru to the NVidia Shield TV. It also has the ability to generate "optimized" (compressed) files for use on other devices. Plex will then choose the appropriate version of the file to play based on the client, so you can have full Blu-Ray quality in your house and still get access to a good quality compressed copy on the Roku box in your summer cabin or your iPad in a hotel room. It is seamless and works really well.

It is still a pain in the ass compared to Kaleidescape, but it is not hard. I rip the disc with MakeMKV and make sure I have any forced subs, then I upload it to my NAS and tell Plex to make an optimized version for televisions at 12 Mbps. The server does the rest.

The other downside is that, unlike Kscape, there is no way to access UV content. This leaves me with half of my library in Plex and the other half on Vudu. This is substantially less than ideal, though I can at least access all of the content from the same device.

The upside is that you can access your Plex content on nearly any device out there (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Playstation, XBox, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, OSX, etc). It also has a pretty nice and feature rich feature set for music.
 
I used to manage my own movie server back in the day before moving across to K - combination of MakeMKV and Dune players. Eventually the pain & sheer time involved took its toll - & I moved over to K. Small Premiere system which I've expanded over time - a joy of simplicity in comparison; I got to enjoy content rather than manage it.

The recent awful news has obviously got me considering Plan B if the current efforts to keep K alive don't work out. At the moment I'm considering either the Apple Store route or Plex.

Apple Store means essentially re-buying my content - not insignificant for 500+ movies. Obviously also quality takes a significant hit. Big plus is convenience/ ease - plus no re-rips/ management of iPad copies for the kids (big win).

Plex & re-visiting MakeMKV would mean a return to ripping. It sounds like recent Plex changes mean the iPad copy management side would now be easier. However forced subs are the thing that concerns me the most - back in my pre-K days I never did find a method of 100% reliably identifying those... which made for a really dull workflow to try to catch them. If that process has got more straightforward then I could yet be tempted down the Plex route. @Haywood - any suggestions for forced subs?

Fingers crossed the efforts to resurrect K bear fruit.

Simon
 

Haywood

Well-known member
As the question above, what do you mean by 1:1 blu-ray rips? Last time I check Plex can not do ISO and BDMV.

Full quality does not mean ISO. ISO has nothing to do with quality at all. I personally don't want to deal with menus and such. All I want is the movie itself. I can take the raw movie and put it in an mkv container without compressing it or altering it in any way. That is what I mean by 1:1 rips.

Forced subtitles are still a pain in the ass when ripping movies. There is no way around that, due to the inconsistent way different Blu-Rays implement them. That can mean having to rip the same movie more than once, which is a pain. The server is dead reliable. The interface is really nice. They have clients for every device known to man. All that is great. Ripping discs still sucks.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
Apple Store means essentially re-buying my content - not insignificant for 500+ movies. Obviously also quality takes a significant hit. Big plus is convenience/ ease - plus no re-rips/ management of iPad copies for the kids (big win).

Simon

I would argue that UV/DMA through Vudu is a better option than Apple for a couple reasons. The quality is basically the same between the two, so that does not play into it.

1) Apple works with Apple, but only Apple. Vudu works on most set top boxes, smart TVs and mobile devices as well as anything that has an HTML 5 compliant web browser.
2) Because almost all of the movies on Vudu are part of either UltraViolet or DMA, you are not entirely beholden to Vudu.
3) There is a HUGE marketplace for UV movie codes that will allow you to acquire pretty much any new release for somewhere between $6 and $12. I would say $7-8 is average. This saves a LOT of money vs paying full freight on iTunes. You can also shop around between UV services. It is a much more open ecosystem.
4) Disc-to-Digital allows you to buy HDX copies of most movies at $1 per Blu-Ray or $2.50 per DVD.
 

djb_rh

Well-known member
⭐️ Premium ⭐️
I would argue that UV/DMA through Vudu is a better option than Apple for a couple reasons. The quality is basically the same between the two, so that does not play into it.

1) Apple works with Apple, but only Apple. Vudu works on most set top boxes, smart TVs and mobile devices as well as anything that has an HTML 5 compliant web browser.
2) Because almost all of the movies on Vudu are part of either UltraViolet or DMA, you are not entirely beholden to Vudu.
3) There is a HUGE marketplace for UV movie codes that will allow you to acquire pretty much any new release for somewhere between $6 and $12. I would say $7-8 is average. This saves a LOT of money vs paying full freight on iTunes. You can also shop around between UV services. It is a much more open ecosystem.
4) Disc-to-Digital allows you to buy HDX copies of most movies at $1 per Blu-Ray or $2.50 per DVD.

Agreed on all of the above. I just wish Plex had *some* way of at least cataloging your non-Plex movies. I'd love to be able to drop in a text file with the proper movie name and instead of playing the movie (since it isn't there), the Plex user gets the message in the text file. Which could be something like "We own this movie, but it's in Vudu." Then you could at least have some kind of single interface that shows your entire movie library, even if it can't play it all.

And agreed on your previous post...everything about plex is wonderful except ripping.


--Donnie
 

tzfan

Active member
everything about plex is wonderful except ripping.
I had heard wonderful things about Plex and decided to try it when I wanted to set up a movie server for the family before coming to Kaleidescape. Since Plex has no online movie store, my main use entailed loading my own physical media. This was way too complex for even a technical person who did not want to spend a lot of time at it. I asked Plex experts how to do this simply, including getting metadata, and their only response was it will take time and energy and there is no turnkey way to go about it. Plex largely assumes you already have your media in an online format and that is its achilles heal for many real-world uses.

I then invested in Kaleidescape and it did everything I wanted with DVDs including simple loading of media. Fusion Research and ReQuest may offer something similar for physical media with more flexible storage options but I have not seen anything that rivals Kaleidescape's user interface and programmatic control despite what people often argue.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
Agreed on all of the above. I just wish Plex had *some* way of at least cataloging your non-Plex movies. I'd love to be able to drop in a text file with the proper movie name and instead of playing the movie (since it isn't there), the Plex user gets the message in the text file. Which could be something like "We own this movie, but it's in Vudu." Then you could at least have some kind of single interface that shows your entire movie library, even if it can't play it all.

And agreed on your previous post...everything about plex is wonderful except ripping.


--Donnie

I have the same gripe with Plex and I really wish there were a way to integrate my Plex titles with my UV/DMA titles. I was very aggressive with Disc-to-Digital because of cost. It is hard to say no to getting a near Blu-Ray quality 1080p copy of something you have an DVD for $2.50. I also made aggressive use of code sites. This means that the composition of my 1600 title library is now 2:1 UV/DMA to Disc, with about half of the discs being Blu-Ray.

I convert the DVDs to H264 at very high quality settings that do not degrade the quality at all. They don't save me much space either, but this is about compatibility, not storage. Blu-Rays, I do differently. First, I do a raw rip of the main movie with the soundtracks and subtitles I want. Then I use the Plex Optimizer to create a 12Mbps compressed copy. That adds about 30% for each movie size-wise, but essentially eliminates transcoding issues.

I am currently keeping track of all this in a spreadsheet, which is less than ideal.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
I had heard wonderful things about Plex and decided to try it when I wanted to set up a movie server for the family before coming to Kaleidescape. Since Plex has no online movie store, my main use entailed loading my own physical media. This was way too complex for even a technical person who did not want to spend a lot of time at it. I asked Plex experts how to do this simply, including getting metadata, and their only response was it will take time and energy and there is no turnkey way to go about it. Plex largely assumes you already have your media in an online format and that is its achilles heal for many real-world uses.

I then invested in Kaleidescape and it did everything I wanted with DVDs including simple loading of media. Fusion Research and ReQuest may offer something similar for physical media with more flexible storage options but I have not seen anything that rivals Kaleidescape's user interface and programmatic control despite what people often argue.

The biggest headache is forced subtitles. The rest is pretty easy. Open MakeMKV, pop in a disc, click "open disc", select the main title with the sountracks and subtitles you want, name it and click Make MKV. Done, unless you have forced subs.
 

tnedator

Well-known member
The biggest headache is forced subtitles. The rest is pretty easy. Open MakeMKV, pop in a disc, click "open disc", select the main title with the sountracks and subtitles you want, name it and click Make MKV. Done, unless you have forced subs.

I like others is not looking at plan B and my last foray into ripping was DVD and the very early Blu Rays (which were a major mess back then).

So, forced sub titles mean you rip the main feature and you check it and it has sub titles? If so, how do you then remove the subtitles?
 

djb_rh

Well-known member
⭐️ Premium ⭐️
I had heard wonderful things about Plex and decided to try it when I wanted to set up a movie server for the family before coming to Kaleidescape. Since Plex has no online movie store, my main use entailed loading my own physical media. This was way too complex for even a technical person who did not want to spend a lot of time at it. I asked Plex experts how to do this simply, including getting metadata, and their only response was it will take time and energy and there is no turnkey way to go about it. Plex largely assumes you already have your media in an online format and that is its achilles heal for many real-world uses.

I then invested in Kaleidescape and it did everything I wanted with DVDs including simple loading of media. Fusion Research and ReQuest may offer something similar for physical media with more flexible storage options but I have not seen anything that rivals Kaleidescape's user interface and programmatic control despite what people often argue.

Kaleidescape is better. In every way.

It also costs 10-20x more and unless you buy a grandfathered system can't rip, either. And it's currently in a limbo state it may (but hopefully will) never come out of.

So we're talking about Plex and the possibilities.

As has been pointed out, ripping has gotten possible without being horrible in terms of complexity. What it still does take a lot of is TIME. Takes quite a while to get a ful BR rip, and a LOT longer if you want to compress it down. So moving a big library to Plex is hard. Starting from scratch and adding what you want as you go isn't *so* bad.

And for things you don't care about the quality of so much, you *can* just download from a torrent. Now, I'm not talking about bootlegging per se, just using someone else's rip of something you paid for. Gray area to be sure, but hell, so is ripping things you actually own, too. And you might get busted and get caught up in a lawsuit just because you did a download that way. But if none of that bothers you much, torrent downloads of movies drop right in to Plex and work great. For most of us with even a decent download connection, it's faster than any rip you're going to do yourself. Quality is usually passable to pretty good.


--Donnie
 

Haywood

Well-known member
I like others is not looking at plan B and my last foray into ripping was DVD and the very early Blu Rays (which were a major mess back then).

So, forced sub titles mean you rip the main feature and you check it and it has sub titles? If so, how do you then remove the subtitles?

Forced subs are the ones that pop up when someone in the movie speaks a foreign language, like a scene in a spy movie where the hero infiltrates the Russian embassy. That kind of thing.

The issue is that they are handled three ways. Some discs just burn them into the image by default. They do not show up as a subtitles file, they are just there. Other movies have a separate subtitles file that only contains forced subs. The third option is to have a subtitles file that contains all of the subs where the forced subs are flagged. You have to figure it out on a disc by disc basis or you might end up with a movie with missing forced subs. This is mainly only an issue with Blu-Rays and there is a community maintained Google Docs spreadsheet you can find that lists known movies with forced subs, along with the information you need to deal with them. Still, it is a pain.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
Kaleidescape is better. In every way.

It also costs 10-20x more and unless you buy a grandfathered system can't rip, either. And it's currently in a limbo state it may (but hopefully will) never come out of.

So we're talking about Plex and the possibilities.

As has been pointed out, ripping has gotten possible without being horrible in terms of complexity. What it still does take a lot of is TIME. Takes quite a while to get a ful BR rip, and a LOT longer if you want to compress it down. So moving a big library to Plex is hard. Starting from scratch and adding what you want as you go isn't *so* bad.

And for things you don't care about the quality of so much, you *can* just download from a torrent. Now, I'm not talking about bootlegging per se, just using someone else's rip of something you paid for. Gray area to be sure, but hell, so is ripping things you actually own, too. And you might get busted and get caught up in a lawsuit just because you did a download that way. But if none of that bothers you much, torrent downloads of movies drop right in to Plex and work great. For most of us with even a decent download connection, it's faster than any rip you're going to do yourself. Quality is usually passable to pretty good.


--Donnie

The Plex Optimizer makes this a LOT easier. Once you do the raw 1:1 Blu-Ray rip, you can tell Plex to make copies of the film optimized for different things. I generally just use the Universal TV 12 Mbps setting, which gives you an H264 MP4 file with DD or DTS Pass-thru at an average bit-rate of around 12 Mbps. It is dead stupid simple. Click the the ... button, select Optimize, select your options and the server does the rest. It is WAY easier than doing it with Handbrake and you can do an library at a time. I just builds a queue.

I will admit that I have been known to download someone else's rip, but I have found that the quality can be a bit unpredictable.
 

Haywood

Well-known member
For those of you who are considering Plex as your alternative:

Pros:
The user experience is very good and always improving, because features are added on a regular basis and bugs tend to get fixed rather quickly.

There are clients for practically every device known to man and the server can run on a variety of NAS devices, Windows, Linux, OSX and the NVidia Shield.

You can access your entire media library from anywhere you have internet access and can share your media with others (I share my library with my parents).

It has great music functionality and is also great for dealing with TV Series content.

The UI is dead stupid easy to use and looks good.

It is rock solid stable on the right platform.

Cons:
Ripping discs is a time consuming pain in the ass and there is no way around that.

There is no way to incorporate UV or DMA content into your Plex library.

The "plays anywhere on anything" is based on the server transcoding on the fly, which can be a problem on an under-powered box like a NAS. The only ways around this are to use a beefy server or to use the Optimizer to create additional copies at lower bit-rates to avoid transcoding on the fly. This is not difficult, but it does burn disc space.

The only clients capable of playing 1:1 rips with Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-Master soundtracks are Plex Home Theater running on a PC and the NVidia Shield. There are a few firmware bugs with the Shield that should be fixed soon, but one of them switches the color to RGB at certain frame rates. Again, it is not expected to stay that way for long. I do not know about 3D support or Atmos support, as those have not been relevant to me.

I do know you can also connect KODI devices to a Plex Server with a plugin and that opens up more powerful devices with better codec support. It also requires a high degree of technical acumen to get it set up and working.
 
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