Archive for December, 2012
It is the season for giving, and I just want to start by saying how much we appreciate all those who have become PlexPass members. Thank you so much. You literally keep the lights on, and keep us and our families (and dogs) fed. We’re excited and energized to head into 2013 with some huge plans (Could this btobiae the year we bring Trailers back? Bet on it!)
Before the year ends, though, we have a little present for you PlexPassians. A token of our appreciation, if you will. We’ve been working hard to bring it to you, because you’ve been asking for it for quite some time…
That’s right, we have a massive update for our desktop Plex app! It used to be Plex Media Center, but because of the sheer number of people who confused it for Plex Media Server (no, really), we’re rebranding it Plex Home Theater.
So what’s new? Well, we’ve re-synced to upstream XBMC code, to their “frodo” pre-release. But more than that, we’ve completely redone our integration so as to make future updates much, much easier. Our internal codename for the project was Fordo (because, let’s face it, a giant mountain with an impenetrable fortress inside sounds slightly more bad-ass than a little guy with hairy feet).
This brings us up to date with all the latest, which should finally resolve a number of long-standing issues, including A/V sync on SD files, high CPU usage when idle, and adds lots of cool stuff including:
- HD audio support, via the new AudioEngine code, on operating systems which support it.
- 10bit H.264 video
- Airplay support
- Much improved rendering efficiency (“dirty regions”)
- Many bug fixes to home screen, server detection
In typical Plex fashion, we’ve also disabled/removed a bunch of stuff too, in order to make it as lean and fast as possible. It’s not a toaster, microwave, or PVR. Our only interest is making it work as well as humanly possible with our media server.
I also want to point out in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS, that this is a PlexPass preview. It’s definitely pre-release quality. Frodo (the upstream code) hasn’t shipped yet. It’ll crash, and hang, and possibly even overwater your house plants. We’ll be updating it frequently, and when it’s ready to come out of the oven, we’ll release it for everyone.
So, a few important links: You can download the OS X and Windows releases here (yes, you need a PlexPass for this). You can help us figure out what needs fixing in the new release in this new forum (please read the “known issues” sticky). You can build from source yourself and pitch in (it’s so easy now!). (One nice little easter egg: the context menu now works on the home screen to mark an item as watched.)
Most importantly, though – please have yourself a meaningful and happy holiday season. Spend some time with people you love. Pet your children. Hug your dogs and cats. Time with family and friends is more important than presents or material items.
Namaste, and we’ll see you next year!
This release is brought to you by Gordon, our favorite Swedish Plex dog. Gordon’s dad Tobias led the Plex strike force who is behind this new release. Gordon is stoic (obviously), loves the snow, and enjoying curling up in front of a good movie. Barkley’s brother from another, roughly.
They say on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. That’s true, until you hire one as your CFO. That’s right, Barkley has come on to help us out over Christmas, and with his inspired direction, we have a few PlexPass updates to share. You’ve been kind enough to have shared some great feedback over the past couple of weeks, and we’d like to go over some changes we hope will address many of the questions people have had.
First of all, we’ve enabled subscription upgrades! You can now upgrade from monthly to yearly, and from yearly to lifetime, even if your subscription is cancelled. To keep things simple and fair, we issue a prorated refund of your existing subscription, and then sign you up for the new one. (My inbox is literally stuffed to the gills with emails asking for this feature, and I apologize for not responding personally to each one.)
Next, we’ve also added support for paying with PayPal. I know this was something many of you (especially those outside the US) requested. Again, in order to keep things simple, right now we just allow purchasing non-recurring year and lifetime PlexPasses.
Finally, one of the most common questions that arose was around premium features like PlexSync. Now originally, we had pictured PlexPass as being something tailored specifically for those people who love early access to new features in development. Many other people simply prefer to get a feature when it’s stable and fully working, and so we thought it made sense to separate these two classes of users into different subscription packages.
However, after reading all of your comments, and reevaluating, we’ve decided to make things even simpler: Raise your glass of eggnog, because if you have a PlexPass, it’ll get you access to all premium features, from the beta stage onwards, and there will be no separate premium subscription. So PlexSync is yours to keep, and we certainly hope you’re getting good use out of it in this busy holiday season!
One little caveat: your PlexPass will include all future premium features – and we’ve got some awesome ones planned – with one rather obvious exception. If we ever add some sort of premium content (say, for example, we start producing our own episodic show centered on a wise-cracking dwarf, an incestuous queen, and giant ice-zombies), access to that content would obviously be an add-on to the subscription. But I mean, who wouldn’t pay extra for ice-zombies?
Lastly, a few people have expressed an aversion for any sort of subscription model. We respect that, and it’s for that reason that we’ve left around the Lifetime plan, as it’s a one-time purchase. It won’t be around in perpetuity, and when/if it comes back, it’ll likely be higher priced, but at least until the end of the year, you can get your platinum-plated, diamond-studded lifetime PlexPass and avoid a recurring plan.
Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!111 comments
The Roku is one of our favorite ways to get Plex on the big screen. I actually used to own two Roku SoundBridges back in the day, so my love for the company goes way back. But seriously, what’s not to love about those sexy little boxes? They’re affordable, reliable, and have 1080p output; we know people with 4 of them connected up around their house, all streaming from a Plex Media Server.
Speaking of streaming to multiple devices at once, our friend @andersnorberg conducted an interesting test with the new release of the media server, which has some really nice optimizations to reduce CPU usage. He was able to stream 720p and 1080p content to twelve devices at the same time from one of the new Mac Minis without a problem. He literally ran out of devices without being able to overload the server (see photo below). Got any other crazy stories for us about how you’re running Plex in your underground vampire-themed club in Berlin, or on your laser-shark-equipped 200 foot yacht in the South Pacific? Let us know.
Anyway, we have a nice update to the Plex Roku channel which we’d like to tell you about. As you might know, the channel is open source, and we always welcome contributions. We’d like to give a shout out to flyryan, whose changes we’ve incorporated into this new version. Here is the full list of changes:
- Some internal re-architecting to use a single message port/loop. Not exciting, but a ton of work and the thing that enabled most of what’s on this list. It also means the code should be a bit cleaner, feel free to contribute!
- Background audio support: Audio no longer stops playing when you leave the screen on which you started playing it. Among other things, you can listen to music while browsing for videos or more music to play, and you can start a slideshow while the music continues to play in the background. You can navigate to the currently playing audio from the home screen or by hitting the * key on most screens. How cool is that?
- Remote control: You can actually fling media over to the Roku and control it with another Plex app (this requires an updated media server which will be out in a week or so).
- Added myPlex recommendations to the home screen.
- Added global Recently Added and On Deck to the home screen.
- Additional display preferences, home screen rows and section display rows (all, on deck, unwatched, …) can be reordered.
- Improved the load time on grid screens.
- Added preference for subtitle color (soft subs only)
- Added a delete button, when the media server is configured to allow deletion.
- TV theme music!
- Basic support for stacked (multi-part) videos.
- Small bug fixes around subtitles and surround sound.
We are aware of one high profile bug that has not been addressed yet; some people
see crashes on some files with 5.1 audio. We’re working with Roku to figure
out what’s causing the problem, likely some combination of transcoder and Roku firmware.