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May 29, 2013

Plex comes to the Drobo 5N

Here at Plex, we’re big fans of Drobo. Many of us have owned them since the first-generation units (I had two, personally), and none of us ever lost a single byte of data in years of use.

We were excited to hear about the new Drobo 5N devices, because they seemed like a really good fit for the Plex Media Server. The deceptively compact boxes are packing a quad-core processor (of which 3 cores are available for applications), and it’s got much more RAM than your average ARM-based NAS.

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The usual issue with running on low-powered, energy-efficient devices is the lack of ability to do transcoding. However, the Drobo’s ARM processors, while not able to perform video transcoding in real-time, CAN transcode multi-channel audio to stereo AAC in real-time (easily!), and can remux (a fancy word for repackaging audio and video without converting it) video much faster than real-time. In fact, in our testing it could sustain multiple simultaneous streams without issues.

What does this mean? It means that you can stuff a Drobo full of MKV files and stream them in real-time to our highly rated iOS or Android or Roku apps. Or stream them to a PS3 using DLNA, or to the Windows 8 app. Or of course use the Plex Media Center (which doesn’t require any transcoding), or Plex for Google TV (which plays most formats natively), or the Plex app for Samsung devices, or an LG TV. Lots of possibilities!

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You can see Drobo’s great page on Plex here or read the announcement on their blog. Last, but not least, I should note that Barkley fully approves of the Drobo 5N.

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