Postcard from - Plex

About a year ago I started digitising some of the 300+ DVDs that I'd bought over the previous 10 years. That was easy enough, and getting a spare 2 TB hard drive was equally simple. However, life started getting less satisfying from that point on.

Our LG TV has a fair selection of included apps, and using the interfaces list to access a hard drive somewhere on the house network worked after a fashion. By that I mean it's more of a geek solution than something easy and fluid for non technical people. I use SMB a lot, but it isn't the best solution everywhere. Such as accesing a media library from a TV, however smart that TV claims to be.

Then I found Plex, and it's free.

The TV has a Plex client, and the server is so simple to set up. Literally install the software, open a web browser with the right URL (mainly the right port, it defaults to the local network address), and tell it where the media can be found. It takes a few minutes to scan the directories that you've told it about, and images and other metadata get downloaded.

On the TV, open the interfaces list, select Plex and browse. Each movie or TV series will shows up as an image, usually the one from one of the DVDs. Select what you want and sit back.

Plex wants names to be in a standardised format which isn't difficlut to do. Movies need to have the year of release in brackets after the name, TV series should be split into seasons and episodes should have the season and episode numbers as part of the name. It's all very simple to do, and the results work better than I would have expected.

The TV has a problem with some file types, but if you're digitising your own material, once you see the restrictions, that's easy to deal with too. My LG, for example, won't play MKV files, and has balked at some AVI files too. Understandable, and there's plenty of software around to recode the data and change the file type for you.

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