2016 has been a huge year so far in almost every corner of the Plexverse. All of our lovely client apps have gotten major features and upgrades. We’ve launched the first major step toward making your photos great again. The Media Server turned 1.0, grew a Streaming Brain and a DVR, and landed in some super cool places like Sonos, the NVIDIA SHIELD, a monster router from Netgear, and even The Cloud.
This is all fantastic news, of course, for our not-so-secret plans for world domination. However, today I want to talk about the platform that started it all: the home theater. Since we announced it a little over a year ago, the team behind Plex Media Player has been hard at work ensuring the best possible media playback experience on a dizzying array of configurations. Squeezing full frame rate 4K video and high definition digital audio out of normal systems can be a challenge. Now try it with a Raspberry Pi. Controlled by an Atari 2600 joystick. Using the LCD on your fancy fridge for a display. (Okay, I made that one up, but I’m sure someone will try it and then take to our friendly forum when it drops a frame every 20 seconds…)
One considerably less obscure request is the desire to use the awesome power of the mpv playback engine everywhere. Maybe you pine for stuff like Plex Media Player’s silky smooth playback, complex subtitle rendering, and lightning fast seeking on your desktop. Maybe you have a lower-powered NAS server that doesn’t like to transcode. Or maybe you’d just like to rock out to some FLAC while you work. Until today, your only option was to find some place to stash a little baby Media Player window and muddle through the TV UI to queue up your background music of choice.
Well, no more: we’ve harnessed our incredibly powerful Web app and wrapped it up inside our lovely Plex Media Player shell to give you a full-fledged “desktop mode” experience right out of the box. With Plex Media Player running in a window, you can now use your mouse and keyboard as nature intended, and switching to the TV UI is as easy as going full-screen.
With this past year of fortification under the hood and the cool new desktop mode, we’re also taking this opportunity to make Plex Media Player available to everyone, 100% free, no Plex Pass required! Now you have no reason not to download and check it out!
Oh, and there is one more thing…
If you’re a home theater nut who’s been following along at home, you’ve probably heard of Kodi. Maybe you’ve even flirted with it (gasp!) as an alternative to Plex! It’s okay, we’re not mad! The truth is Kodi is a pretty powerful media player in its own right, and if you want infinite customizability and more switches and knobs than you can shake a stick at, Kodi may be the player for you. Today, we’re announcing a brand new way to have your cake and eat it too in the form of an official Plex add-on for Kodi.
We’ve been working closely with some of the best Kodi add-on developers in the world to create an awesome, fully-immersive Plex experience within Kodi. Seriously: once you’re up and running, you’ll never know it’s not Plex! You get the same Plex server discovery, user switching, gorgeous library browsing, and media playback experience you know and love, plus a few (okay, a few dozen) more settings to tweak to your heart’s content. Check it all out here!
So, suffice to say that even though we’ve been working hard on lots of great stuff to help you stream all over the place, the home theater is still just as important as ever, and we’ve got even more great stuff in store with Plex Media Player and our new Kodi add-on that we can’t wait to share soon…stay tuned!
Is the Kodi add-on feature-complete?
Most major features are already included in the add-on. A few exceptions are Plex Companion (remote control) support, channel support, and some music features. The add-on will become official any minute and will continue to be developed for the foreseeable future, and we’ll continue to evaluate additional features over time.
Why doesn’t the Kodi add-on look like other Plex TV apps?
We are constantly working on evolving and improving our user interfaces across all our products, and we wanted to showcase some of our new thinking with this fresh new UI.
Will the new TV user interface in the Kodi add-on come to Plex Media Player?
You might think so, right? We are definitely working to level up our TV interface, and you’ll see the fruits of our labors before too long. It’s been a bit of a long road, due to a bunch of internal re-architecturing we’ve been doing (fine print: moving to React is hard).