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Plex Blog

Smooth (Stream) Operator

Oct
03
2017

One of the things that makes Plex magical is the ability to stream all your media to all your devices, no matter where you are in the world – it’s pretty amazing, really, until there’s a disturbance in The Force: maybe your roommate fired up the microwave for yet another Hot Pocket. (The top of the microwave really isn’t the best spot for your WiFi router… but I digress.)

Despite all the impressive tech under the hood, let’s face it, many of us have experienced the dreaded “buffering” from time to time. Well, today we’re here to tell you about a few new features that will ensure your streams keep streaming even as your Hot Pockets are heating.

Auto Quality (Free)

Plex has always let you pick your video streaming quality: full HD while you’re home on the couch, or slightly-less-than-HD when you’re parachuting into a Central American jungle to deprive a republic of its banana. The only problem is, picking a quality manually is a bit like playing darts blindfolded: you’re just as likely to hit the bullseye as the person next to you. Add in a few simultaneous streams, and it gets even worse: now you’re blindfolded, hangry, and someone just put $20 in the jukebox and hit shuffle on Jimmy Buffett.

Enter our Streaming Brain robot, who lives in the server and adjusts quality automatically across all streams in the name of pareto efficiency. Tirelessly and without complaining, while even taking time out to appear on a t-shirt.

The Auto Quality feature worked so well for our Plex Pass users that we decided to enable the feature for everyone. It’s available today on web, Android, iOS, Android TV, and Apple TV. To start using it, simply turn on the “Automatically Adjust Quality” option in the Quality settings of the app.

Hardware-Accelerated Streaming (Plex Pass)

Are you sitting on a reasonably modern CPU or GPU? Are you tired of your Plex server heating half your house in the winter? (Note: This last part is not always bad – it literally might have saved Leo’s life in Titanic. Or in The Revenant. Why is he always SO DAMN COLD??)

We’re Team Kate / Bear here, so it brings us great pleasure to introduce hardware-accelerated streaming. This allows Plex Media Server to take advantage of dedicated hardware support to convert video dramatically more efficiently than ever before. This translates into more streams at higher quality (even HD! 4K!), less processor power, and happy-ass polar bears. Everyone wins! (except Leo.)

Hardware-accelerated streaming is available today for Plex Pass subscribers. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux with modern Intel processors that support Intel Quick Sync. Some AMD GPUs and NVIDIA GPUs are also supported on Windows and Mac.

In order to illustrate how hard this streaming stuff really is, we recruited Barkley and a garden-variety hose. In this visual metaphor, the water is your episode of The Bachelorette: All that is pure and good in this world. This is the stream upon which Plex feeds. Barkley is the unknown, striking down upon your stream with great vengeance and furious anger. And the grass? Well, the grass represents the plight of the proletariat. Everyone pisses on them. Don’t be the grass.

Tl;dr – Update your Plex Media Server to experience even smoother streaming using Auto Quality and Hardware-Accelerated Streaming.

For more information and frequently asked questions, visit Plex Support for Auto Quality and Hardware-Accelerated Streaming.