If you’ve built yourself a handy media library – photos, video, recorded TV, music and more – using the powerful Plex Media Server tool for Windows, Mac or Linux, you’ll need a suitable client to access it all across your network.
This is the media center portion of Plex, recently renamed from Plex Media Center, and is the only free client available (paid-for clients are also available for iOS, Android and Windows 8). Plex Home Theater works on Mac and Windows, and is designed to look good on your big-screen TV, which means it runs full screen, relies on a keyboard or compatible remote, and can be fiddly to set up.
The initial setup wizard – remember, use your keyboard folks – lets you configure the type of audio and video inputs and outputs you have, then dumps you at the main screen. So long as Plex Media Server is running somewhere (even on the same machine), you’ll have instant access to your movie library.
Presentation is simply fabulous, with lots of detail about the media you’re browsing to help you find what you’re looking for, but you’ll need to spend a little time familiarising yourself with the interface (press the left cursor key on the main screen to access the all-important settings, for example).
Accessing media over your home network is simple – Plex immediately spots any servers and gives you complete access to your media library as well as any online channels (such as YouTube) that you’ve added to the server. If you want access from the wider internet you’ll need to sign up for a MyPlex account, where you can upgrade to a PlexPass to gain additional features such as direct access to media stored in your cloud storage folders as well as offline playback on iOS and Android devices.
Note, the Mac download link is for the 64-bit version. If you need the 32-bit version for an older Mac, download it here. Linux users can also download one of a number of community - but supported - builds here.