Raspberry Pi, Plex and RasPlex

I’ve got a rather large collection of photos and home video;  more than 20000 photos and >50 videos. A few years ago I digitized all the slides, negatives and analog video I could find and of course nowadays all new media is being made the digital way, with a HD Camcorder and a DSLR. So the collection keeps on growing…

I also have a media player in the living room from which all this media is accessible. However, the amount of devices that should be able to access all this content, have increased rapidly the last few years – currently it’s 4 smartphones, 3 tablets, 4 TVs, 2 PCs and a laptop. But there’s no universal way of accessing all that content – each device is different and so is the UI -I need some sort of universal ‘thing’ for this!

I’ve seen XBMC a few times and liked it; I heard about Plex but knew too little about it to judge if it would suit my needs. So the media issue stayed on the to-do list – until now! I got an email last Friday with only this link in the message: http://rasplex.com. Hey, that’s interesting.. a Plex client for the Raspberry Pi!

Time for some action.. I have my own RPi for a few days now, so why not give Plex, RasPlex and all that comes with it a try, right now! Nothing else to do anyway 😉

First I had to find a spare display with a HDMI input (which is not really needed, I guess the RCA can be used as well). We had one – a TV/PC monitor being used as a PC monitor. I also had an unused LCD monitor somewhere, so I swapped the 2 and put the TV/PC monitor on the desk next to me. I installed the Plex Media Server (PMS) on a Windows Vista VM that’s only being used for testing and added a number of home videos to the PMS Library.

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I downloaded the latest RasPlex image, put that image on a new SD card and inserted it into my RPi. A HDMI cable, network cable and a USB keyboard connected to the RPi was all that had to done to give it a try. I plugged the power supply (an old smart phone charger) into the mains socket and – yeah, it’s booting! Cool..

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The development of RasPlex has started just very recently and it’s still in alpha phase as you can see on the screenshot to the right. The User Interface was working OK; I didn’t find anything that didn’t work (with my 2-day Plex user experience, that is). The User Interface can be a bit laggy sometimes, but after the first time (after it has been cached) it’s OK. Lets move on the watching some video ans see how Alpha that is..

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Playing Home Videos is still a bit buggy I guess, cause I experienced some strange behavior a couple of times: audio but no video, audio that suddenly stopped, stuff like that. To the left you see a screenshot of RasPlex playing a Home Video of our trip to Madurodam last year – great!

I also ripped some of my DVD’s to see if those had the same problems, but they didn’t – all went well.

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I also downloaded the Plex Media Center so I could watch all our photos and videos on my PC and also installed the Plex for Android App on my smartphone. Hey, I can control my TV with my smart phone… ooh man, this is nice!

And you’re not restricted to your own media – Vimeo, YouTube and other sources can be embedded in that same media portal…

With a single Plex server somewhere in your home and multiple Plex clients (RasPlex, smart phones, tablets) for all of us this is the best media solution I’ve seen so far and I love it!

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3 Responses to Raspberry Pi, Plex and RasPlex

  1. Stuart says:

    Any details on how you ripped the DVDs?

    • Well, ripping was done ‘some’ years ago actually and back then I used several methods, depending on the DVD; Smartripper, DVD Decryptor, you name it and I’ve used them – extracting only the main movie into a single VOB, etcetera. In this case it was an old rip of Heat (1995) and U-571 that were playable on my RasPlex. Don’t know anymore what I’ve done to make it work. Another thing worth mentioning is that after I purchased a MPEG2 license, my older Home Videos are all fine now.

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