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  1. Plex Player For Windows 10
  2. Plex Player For Mac
  • Download the latest version of Plex for Mac. Excellent multi-platform media center. Plex is a comprehensive video and audio player, aimed to work as a media.
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  • Plex can enable the best streaming devices available to serve your content anywhere. Our live streaming app will give your media the Hollywood treatment.
  • Sep 21, 2020 Plex (formerly Plex Media Player) bridges the gap between your Mac and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media.

While it may sound daunting to set up a media server, with a simple Mac mini, Plex, and a couple of hard drives, you can do so quickly and easily. The Mac mini is a low-power, quiet device, which.

There are tons of media server software options available for hosting a home server. Plex however, remains arguably the most popular choices for running a sort of do-it-yourself (DIY) Netflix. With Plex Media Server, you can stream your personal movie, TV show, and music collection. While the streaming experience is dictated largely by your Plex server hardware, what client device you use also shapes file playback. Check out the best Plex client devices you can use in 2020!

What is Plex Media Server and Why Should You Use It?

A media server software program, Plex allows you to take your movies, TV shows, music files, and even photos, then display them with a slick user-interface (UI). It’s something of a DIY Netflix or Spotify, taking your media files and downloading box art as well as metadata. You can access your content on compatible Plex streaming devices using an appropriate Plex app.

Plex Player For Windows 10

What is a Plex Client Device?

When you spin up a Plex server, your media collection sits on your server. Then, you can access those files via Plex apps on compatible devices, called clients. Essentially, a Plex streaming device is any media player that’s able to download the Plex media player app, or pull it up in a browser. This ranges from Android set-top boxes, Rokus, and Amazon Fire TV streamers to iOS and Android phones or tablets, smart TVs, and even the Kodi media center which features a Plex add-on.

What to Look for in a Plex Client – What Devices Work Best with Plex?

When considering a Plex media player, you’ll want to think about what devices work best for Plex streaming. Just because a device can download the Plex app doesn’t mean it handles media playback well. Provided that your media is properly encoded in various formats, you should be able to direct play files if they’re stored in the correct file containers, use a compatible bitrate and resolution, plus are encoded using appropriate codecs. This varies by device.

Then, there’s direct stream that happens when a file is compatible with your device, such as H.264 or AC3, but wrapped in an incompatible file container such as MKV or AVI. You can still direct stream these which uses a tiny bit of processing power, repackaging content for on-the-fly streaming. Other considerations when selecting a media streamer for Plex are output resolution and app compatibility. Think about what else you want to install besides Plex, such as Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, etc. For 4K TVs, make sure you’ve got a Plex client device capable of handling HDR or Dolby Vision. Audio streams are important too, particularly for a home theater set up that features a surround sound or soundbar.

  • DIrect Play and Direct Stream compatibility
  • Video output resolution
  • App compatibility beyond Plex

Nvidia Shield TV – Best Overall Media Streamer for Plex 2020


The Nvidia Shield TV isn’t simply the best Plex streamer you can buy, but instead the top streaming device on the market. Frist released in 2015, Nvidia gave its Nvidia Shield TV a much-needed overhaul in 2019. Running Android 9.0 Pie, the Tegra X1+ powered Nvidia Shield TV added support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. Capable of pumping out 4K HDR visuals, it’s a beefy little Android TV box that runs an official version of Android TV rather than a tablet-optimized Android OS as found on many set-top boxes. A novel feature, AI (artificial intelligence) upscaling makes SDR content look lush on 4K HDR panels. The base model was graced with not only an internal refresh but an outward redesign, now coming packaged in a cylindrical form factor.

Inside, you’ll find 2GB of RAM and 8GB of flash storage alongside its Tegra X1+ SoC. In addition to 8GB of onboard storage, there’s a microSD card slot for expansion. While there’s onboard Wi-Fi, you’ll also find an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, the redesigned 2019 Nvidia Shield TV lacks any USB ports, so it loses its ability to double as a Plex server or Samsung SmartThings hub. Moreover, despite its 4K HDR and Dolby Vision capabilities, the Shield TV curiously lacks YouTube HDR playback. Still, the Nvidia Shield TV boasts the best compatibility for Plex streaming when it comes to direct play. It can handle Dolby Vision, 4K HDR files, and its AI upscaling actually delivers on its promise of making non-4K content appear better.

Pros:

For
  • Great codec support
  • 4K HDR-capable
  • Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support
  • True Android TV OS with Android 9.0 Pie
  • Runs Android games and emulators
  • Capable of game streaming
  • Google Assistant onboard
  • Audio passthrough

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Lacks some apps
  • No HDR on YouTube

Nvidia Shield TV Pro – The Ultimate Streaming Device for Plex Users


Similarly, Nvidia updated its Nvidia Shield TV Pro. Appearing much like the previous Shield TV, the Shield TV Pro 2019 is arguably the ultimate streaming device for Plex users. Touting the same Tegra X1+ SoC as the non-Pro Shield TV, it runs Android 9.0 Pie Android TV. Whereas the Shield TV includes 2GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage, the Shield Pro 2019 offers 3GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage. While there’s no microSD card slot, you will find a pair of USB 3.0 ports for connecting peripherals such as hard drives, keyboards, mice, gamepads, the SmartThings Link, and more.

Outfitted with dual-band AC Wi-Fi, the Shield TV Pro 2019 maintains an Ethernet port. And it’s capable of churning out 4K HDR visuals, supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, plus Nvidia’s AI upscaling. Since it’s got USB inputs, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019 retains the ability to double as a Plex server as well as a Plex client, and remains an excellent Samsung SmartThings hub. Disappointingly, there’s no YouTube HDR functionality, a really odd oversight. It’s not as if the Shield TV Pro 2019 lacks the processing power. Because it runs Android TV, you can use the Shield Pro 2019 for gaming, either running Android titles like GTA III or retro ROMs using emulators. Unlike its predecessor, however, there’s no bundled gamepad. Nevertheless, with compatibility for virtually any file you throw at it, superb audio passthrough and direct play support, impressive AI upscaling, and the ability to run emulators for retro gaming, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019 is the best Plex streaming box of all.

Plex Player For Mac

Pros:

  • AI upscaling
  • 4K HDR-capable
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
  • 3GB RAM, 16GB onboard storage
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Dual-band AC Wi-Fi, Ethernet
  • Doubles as a Plex server
  • Great direct play support
  • Audio passthrough
  • Can run emulators for retro gaming
  • SmartThings Link smart home hub compatible

Cons:

  • No gamepad included
  • Lacks YouTube HDR
  • Only 16GB onboard storage

Roku Ultra – Best Plex Streaming Device for Most Users


Although there are loads of different streaming boxes on the market, Roku continues to dominate. Its user-friendly ecosystem originated on set-top boxes before making its way to TVs from the likes of TCL. For Plex use, the Roku Ultra boasts hardware HEVC decoding, 4K HDR video streaming, and a voice remote with a headphone jack for private listening. Because the Roku Ultra flaunts an Ethernet port, it’s the best Roku you can buy for 4K streaming. Audio buffs may be disappointed by its lack of audio passthrough for DTS-HD, TrueHD, DTS-X, and other lossless audio codecs. Bue for the average user, the Roku Ultra remains an affordable streaming device that delivers 4K HDR visuals and lets you install virtually any app imaginable.

Pros:

  • Good codec support
  • 4K HDR-capable
  • Voice remote
  • Private listening with remote
  • AC Wi-Fi, Ethernet port
  • Lots of apps

Cons:

  • Lacks some audio passthrough for 7.1 surround sound

Amazon Fire TV Cube 4K – Plex Streaming with a Great Ecosystem


Streaming devices from Amazon including its smart TVs have become massively popular. Accordingly, the Fire TV is an affordable 4K Plex streaming device. The Fire Stick 4K displays Dolby Vision video and even packs Alexa into its voice remote. Or, the Fire TV Cube handles 4K playback, Dolby Vision and HDR+, as well as Alexa voice commands. The Fire TV Cube is fast, and its operating system runs virtually any app you can think of.

Voice search, while fairly robust, doesn’t work for YouTube TV, arguably the top cable replacement service for cord-cutters. Likewise, audio passthrough isn’t nearly as thorough as on the Nvidia Shield TV. But a Fire TV Stick or Cube should satiate the average Plex user just fine, and like Roku streamers, Amazon Fire TV boxes are incredibly user-friendly.

Pros:

  • Amazon Fire TV ecosystem
  • Lots of apps
  • User-friendly
  • 4K HDR video output
  • Dolby Vision

Cons:

Plex Player For Mac

Plex Player For Mac
  • Lacks DTS audio passthrough

Inarguably, Apple manufacturers high-quality devices with polished, easy-to-use software ecosystems to boot. Apple devotees looking for a Plex client should adopt the Apple TV 4K. If you’ve got a large library of iTunes movies, TV shows, and music, the Apple TV is a must. Sporting 4K HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, the Apple TV 4K comes in a 32GB or 64GB variant. For Plex streaming, there’s audio passthrough and 4K video playback. And with excellent direct play compatibility, almost no server-side encoding is required. Though not quite as versatile as the Nvidia Shield TV, the Apple TV 4K is a great Plex media streamer for Mac users.

Pros:

  • User-friendly
  • Apple ecosystem
  • 4K HDR-capable
  • Dolby Vision support
  • Great audio passthrough
  • 32GB and 64GB variants
  • Lots of apps

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No DTS audio passthrough

Xiaomi Mi Box S – An Affordable Android TV Box


The Xiaomi Mi Box S presents an affordable true Android TV alternative to the Nvidia Shield TV. Xiaomi outfits its Mi Box S with 4K Ultra HD playback, Google Assistant baked in, and powerful specs. It’s built with a Cortex-A53 quad-core 64-bit CPU paired with a Mali-450 GPU. Onboard, the Mi Box S rocks 2GB of DDR3 and 8GB of user accessible storage. There’s 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a USB 2.0 input.

Unfortunately, 4K streaming can be somewhat laggy at times. Although both the Mi Box S and Shield TV run Android TV, the Mi Box S ends up transcoding certain files that the Shield TV direct plays. Ultimately, the Xiaomi Mi Box S is a reasonably-priced legit Android TV OS streaming media player with good Plex app support.

Pros:

  • True Android TV
  • Google Assistant baked-in
  • Excellent remote
  • 4K HDR-capable
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Laggy 4K streaming
Plex Player For Mac

PlayStation 4 Pro – Best Plex Streaming Device for Gamers


Sony designed its PlayStation 4 game console to double as an extremely competent media center. As such, the PlayStation 4 Pro is an incredible, and versatile, Plex streaming device. You can play PS4 exclusives such as “Spider-Man,” and “God of War,” as well as play Blu-Rays, DVDs, and CDs. With its ability to game, play your physical media collection, and stream from the likes of Plex, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and more, the PlayStation 4 is a robust media player.

Sadly, Sony skimped on the Blu-Ray player foregoing 4K UHD Blu-Ray playback. There’s no H.265 playback, so the PlayStation 4 Pro isn’t suitable for hardcore Plex users who demand audio passthrough and direct play. On-the-fly conversion works but is rather CPU intensive, so you’ll need a beefy Plex server. With its balance of streaming support, physical media playback, and gaming, the PS4 Pro is a great Plex client for gamers.

Pros:

  • Plays games
  • Physical media support (Blu-Ray, DVD, CD)
  • 4K HDR output

Cons:

  • Direct play issues
  • Audio passthrough problems

Xbox One – Plex Streaming with 4K UHD Blu-Ray Support

Likewise, the Xbox One runs Plex pretty well. Where the Xbox One improves is with its inclusion of a built-in UHD Blu-ray player. Both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X feature UHD Blu-ray playback capabilities. And while there’s Dolby Vision support on the S and X, that’s limited to streaming apps such as Disney+. Still, lack of Dolby Vision Blu-ray compatibility is a minor issue considering that the PlayStation 4 Pro doesn’t even read UHD Blu-rays.

Aside from Plex streaming and Blu-ray playback, you can pop in games such as “Halo” and “Gears of War” for gaming fun. Tragically, Plex on the Xbox One lacks audio passthrough and frame-rate switching. But its combination of gaming and media center functionality makes the Xbox One a fantastic option.

Pros:

  • Plays games
  • Physical media support (UHD Blu-ray, DVD, CD)
  • 4K HDR Output
  • Dolby Vision

Cons:

  • No Dolby Vision Blu-ray support (limited to streaming apps)
  • Lacks audio passthrough
  • No frame rate switching

HTPC Plex Client Device


A home theatre PC (HTPC) is quite possibly the most utilitarian Plex client device you can use. You can run apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Kodi, and a slew of others whether via downloadable apps or in-browser. For a Plex client app, there’s the official Plex Media Player for Windows or macOS, or you can install Kodi and use the Plex for Kodi add-on. Your Plex experience will vary based on how you’re streaming Plex to your HTPC. The browser-based Plex vrsion doesn’t handle direct play very well, but the Plex for Kodi add-on is excellent. Even the affordable GeForce GT 1030 GPU can tackle 4K HEVC HDR at 60 frames per second perfectly. Since it serves tons of purposes, from streaming media to local file playback and even gaming, an HTPC Plex client boasts a versatile feature set that’s virtually unrivaled

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Plex app available as Plex Media Player or via Kodi add-on
  • Can be used for gaming, local file playback, etc.
  • Upgradable

Cons:

  • Price varies
  • Not necessarily plug-and-play

Raspberry Pi Plex Streaming


The Raspberry Pi is an awesome little single-board computer (SBC). While you can create an awesome Plex server, the Raspberry Pi also makes for an affordable Plex client. You can createa Kodi-based HTPC with a Raspberry Pi using the likes of LibreELEC, OpenELEC, or OSMC. Alternatively, Kodi runs as a standalone app on the Raspberry Pi compatible Linux distros as well as retro gaming operating systems such as RetroPie, Recalbox, and Batocera. The easiest method for watching Plex on the Raspberry Pi is installing Kodi or a Kodi OS, then downloading the Plex for Kodi add-on. I’d suggest the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ or Raspberry Pi 4 for Plex streaming. 4K playback isn’t going to work on the Pi 3 B+, and though the Pi 4 handles 4K output, its functionality with Plex is hit or miss

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Runs Kodi and retro gaming OSes
  • Small footprint

Cons:

  • Completely DIY set up

Best Media Streamer for Plex 2020 – Best Plex Client Devices for Plex Use

If you’re looking for the best streaming media player on the market, the Nvidia Shield TV and Shield TV Pro arguably deserve that title. With mind-blowing specs and AI upscaling, 4K HDR performance is outstanding. The Roku Ultra and Fire Stick or Fire Cube satisfy non-power users, and the Apple TV 4K is a solid choice for those ingrained in the Mac ecosystem. If you’re ok with a DIY set up, an HTPC is a superb option as is a Raspberry Pi Plex streaming device. Gamers and anyone with a large collection of Blu-Rays and DVDs should consider a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X.

Your turn: What Plex client devices are you using?

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