Plex hits the big screen with the first official release of its media browsing and playback tool. Plex Home Theater 1.0 is the client-side version of Plex’s media suite for Windows and Mac users, and has been 11 months in the making, during which time 15 separate builds were released exclusively to PlexPass subscribers.
Plex Home Theater replaces Plex Media Center, and gives users access to media stored on a computer running Plex Media Server, both over their local network and – via the MyPlex web service – wider internet.
Although Plex Home Theater logically follows on from Plex Media Center, Plex is keen to stress there’s more than a simple name change. “Almost every single thing about the app is improved,” it claimed in a blog post promoting the new release. “It’s faster, prettier, and more powerful.”
The post goes on to point out the new build supports a number of new of media formats, plus promises to play them more efficiently to improve performance.
Plex Home Theater also launches with a brand new skin, which is designed to look particularly effective on large-screen televisions with 16:9 aspect ratio. Aside from the fresh new look, the skin also incorporates some of the more powerful server-side filtering already present in Plex/Web as well both iOS and Android apps.
Initial feedback has been mixed, with some users complaining about the quality of the display on Retina displays and poor performance with specific file formats on the other. Others have also commented negatively on the dropping of WebKit support in Plex channels, but many have praised the client’s new look and enhanced features.
Notable changes over the 11 months of development included support for AirPlay, a 64-bit OS X build, support for playing video from iOS and Android mobile servers and a new universal transcoder.
Also added is support for playing multi-part media, a new automatic crash reporting tool and rewritten Windows build (using Visual Studio 2012). A late development saw the removal of WebKit support and a rewritten Search window that promises to be faster and more reliable.
Plex Home Theater 1.0 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows and Mac, along with community builds for Linux users. Also available are Plex Media Server for Windows, Mac and Linux, plus Plex for iOS and Android and Plex for Windows 8.