To clarify, the title was hard to dumb down. It’s technically a media server, Netflix is not involved. It’s technically on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, 3, and even on the web; not just the Xbox one. It’s also technically not just for movies as it also handles shows and music.
As someone with a digital media collection of my own, I was looking for a fool proof way to let my 5 year old child browse my movie files by their respected cover art without being able to back out into a world of R-Rated Netflix movies. I’ve toyed around with Micca M-Plays, generic media players, and even with the idea of a Raspberry Pi / External Hard Drive just to avoid the ‘jam hands stage’ on physical discs. Well, I couldn’t be happier that I stumbled onto such an amazing service.
It’s so more than just a movie browser. We’ll step to how easy it is to set up in a minute. First let’s discuss all the amazing things it can do. First it takes all of your files and scans them for accuracy. Once all the titles are matched up (since my hard drive is organized, it matched everything correctly on it’s own) it can provide all the required information directly on the file’s page. Everything from the official rating, to links to the cast’s IMDB pages, to the quality of the audio/video itself (see below). On the Xbox One it also supports a link to the trailer, however I don’t see this available on the web. It caches all this and watched/unwatched data to the program’s files; a must for people with separate hard drives for this sort of thing who don’t want stupid data files in their way. Once it’s set up, it can stream the entire collection without a hiccup (I’ll brag about my set up as well, I can’t say much on how it functions on a lower-end system).
Now that I’ve hopefully got you excited, let’s talk about what you’ll need. You’ll need a place to stream the movies from. Whether they’re on your laptop, PC, or a flash drive in a Raspberry Pi; you’ll need something to keep the files on. This will also be where your movies play from so you’ll need to be able to install the Plex Media Server software on it. I recommend a PC, but of course a laptop (or even a Pi) will do. I’m running this now for the first time on my PC to my Xbox One through CAT6 Ethernet lines and can’t notice a drop in quality at all. Of course I’m sure wirelessly streaming from a laptop to a Fire Stick across your house would be different results, I don’t believe it would be unwatchable. As you can see below, the damage to my PC was barely noticeable (compared to Firefox and the rest of my system processes).
Then you just need a place to stream the movies to. Amazon Fire Sticks support Plex. So does the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Apple TV, Roku devices, most Smart TVs, and anything with an internet browser really.
That’s it! Plex is free although a Pro option is offered for advanced features, you don’t need it. Originally the Pro option was needed for the Xbox / Playstation apps but that beta period has ended and doesn’t cost a dime.
So let’s get you set up! Step 1: Make a Plex account at Plex.tv. After that it’s going to walk you through the whole process. Seriously, it might be the easiest thing I’ve ever set up and it was so perfect ‘out of the box’ I don’t even think I touched the settings. Once your account is set up, you have to install Plex’s Media Server which you will have to point to your movies file directory. Then you’re good to go. Load up Plex on whatever device you choose and go nuts! It’s so easy a borderline-drunk 26 year old man who doesn’t pay attention barely even remembers setting it up.