Nvidia Shield can now serve up Plex content

Networked media software Plex is announcing support for the Nvidia Shield TV set-top box today. While the program already had a media client available for Android devices, Plex now supports using the Shield TV as a server. This means you can stuff all your movies, TV shows, and music into your Plex library—on the Shield TV or elsewhere on your network—and then have it host your files for your other devices. The blog post says the Shield can play back 4K video at the coveted 60 FPS, as well as manage "multiple simultaneous streams," although it doesn't say how many. Formats supported include MPEG-2, H.264, and the new high-efficiency H.265 codec.

Plex is a popular option for users with large media libraries. For the uninitiated, you set up the Plex media server on a computer on your local network, and then that machine serves up the content in your library to other devices on the network. It became popular because it "just works", despite being very powerful, and because client software exists for virtually every platform under the sun. Plex's real-time transcoding allows devices with limited format support or limited hardware resources to play files that otherwise would be out of reach. With the ability to use the Tegra X1's advanced video processing block for transcoding, this makes the Shield TV a very attractive option for an HTPC or even as a pure media server.

Comments closed
    • Deanjo
    • 3 years ago

    Nice, I know a few people that are running i7 systems just to feed their plex streams. This should save them a ton of power consumption.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      EDIT: I see it says it uses the Shields video block for acceleration, huh, as far as I know other platforms don’t use any. So I wonder how many HD streams it can handle.

      Original comment:

      Depending on the number of concurrent HD streams you want running, this probably can’t replace some of those i7 systems, unless they went stupidly overkill and use those i7s
      as single or dual user streamers. . Plex’s main weakness imo is no use of GPU acceleration or quicksync, so they say about 2000 passmark points per HD stream.

      Do wonder how many HD streams the Shield console can do at once.

        • Deanjo
        • 3 years ago

        Well to tell you the truth, I think Zak misread the blog posting.

        [quote<]The blog post says the Shield can broadcast 4K video at the coveted 60 FPS[/quote<] It doesn't say that. It says: [quote<]The 500GB NVIDIA SHIELD Pro is really the first all-in-one Plex box that combines the power of the Media Server with awesome media playback capabilities. Did we mention it supports 4K video @ 60fps?[/quote<] I think that is referring to the playback of 4k @ 60 fps which the X1 can do. The encoder is limited to 4k @ 30 fps. [url<]http://international.download.nvidia.com/pdf/tegra/Tegra-X1-whitepaper-v1.0.pdf[/url<] [quote<]Tegra X1 supports 4K H.265 (HEVC) and VP9 video streams at 60 fps. Other processors support 4K at 30 fps, and deliver sub optimal experiences while viewing fast action sports, movies, and video games. Tegra X1 also supports decode of 10-bit color-depth 4K H.265 60 fps video streams. This enables Tegra X1 products to stream a wide selection 4K content from services such as Netflix. Tegra X1 supports 4K 60 fps local and external displays with support for HDMI 2.0 interfaces and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. [b<]On the encode side, Tegra X1 supports encode of 4K video at 30 fps in H.264, H.265 and VP8 formats.[/b<][/quote<] Now assuming that the encoder is of the same class of even the lowliest Maxwell encoder in GPUland can encode at minimum 5 simultaneous 1080p streams this thing could be a powerhouse for mobile streaming.

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          That leads to a another curiosity, if it’s the same encoder as Maxwell, will Plex finally have GPU acceleration/dedicated hardware block support on Nvidia GPUs? Hopefully coming to more GPUs soon. CPU-alone across hundreds of thousands of users must be using so much more power than needed, lol.

            • Deanjo
            • 3 years ago

            People have been asking for that for a long time. I doubt it will ever happen unless a crossplatform/cross graphic vendor api is made for the major OS’s found running plexserver (Windows, OS X, Linux).

            Supporting it on a dedicated device is just a lot less work.

            • tipoo
            • 3 years ago

            Seems odd to make a one-time effort for a small marketshare device like this though. If the block is the same as Maxwell, it would seem most of the work is already done, regardless of what graphics runtime is used it should work on Linux and Windows with some OS specific rejigging.

            • Deanjo
            • 3 years ago

            Nope, very different video subsystems between Windows/OS X/Linux plus you have various vendor API’s. It is more plausible to expect streaming services on other Android systems where they can use the Mediacodec API. On PC’s not only do you have to worry about the various API’s (Windows Media Streaming API / GStreamer / AVfoundatation) but not all graphic vendor API’s to their encoders support the OS API’s the same way. Using NVEnc Quicksync on linux vs windows is very different, not to mention OS X.

            Even relatively simple applications such as Handbrake currently only support Quicksync on Windows, even though it is technically possible to add those capabilities to linux/os x. (another example is look how long it took projects to finally support vdpau from the multiple graphics vendors in linux and that took years before everyone was onboard through a series of shims)

            • brucethemoose
            • 3 years ago

            Not all encoders are built equally.

            Even the most modern encoding blocks on GPUs (Maxwell/Fiji/Tonga) have to sacrifice some quality for 1080p, especially if you need more than 1 video stream.

            I don’t know when GPUs and Quicksync will hit quality/bitrate parity with good CPU encoding, but Pascal, Polaris, and maybe Cannonlake should bring us close enough to make Plex support worth it.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 3 years ago

          Ah, you’re clearly right. Thanks for pointing that out Deanjo.

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    Plex eh? I’ve never heard of this. How is it “free”? (what’s the catch)

      • Pbryanw
      • 3 years ago

      It’s free because the Plex service also has a premium tier (which is $4.99 a month) and let’s you, amongst other things, use their mobile clients and see movie trailers and extras for the movies in your collection. So, they get you hooked you on the free product, hoping you’ll upgrade to premium in the future.

      However, I’ve found the free program fits my needs perfectly. I have my main PC running the Plex server software and this lets me stream the movies on this PC to my Apple TV, which is running the Plex client software.

      I highly recommend Plex from my own experience of this software. All you need is a machine (like the Shield in this article) to act as the Plex server and then you can pick the platform of your choice (Android TV, Roku, Amazon or Apple TV) to run the client software.

      • SuperSpy
      • 3 years ago

      You can subscribe for a fee to access some extra features, but I’ve used the free version for about 6 months now with no issue. You have to create an account with them, but it’s still free. You can basically load it up with media (TV shows, movies, music etc.) and it will scan and match metadata to it (title, length, description etc) and present you with a simple interface to watch it in a browser either on your home network, or over the internet (assuming your connection has enough upload bandwidth).

      On my setup, I have it installed as a plugin for my FreeNAS machine, and I just dump stuff onto a network share and it automagically finds the metadata and organizes it for me.

      [url<]https://plex.tv/[/url<]

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      There’s no catch. I’ve used Plex for a while now.

      What they have is a Premium tier which will let you share your library outside your network to friends, watch on your mobile devices, whatever.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        Last time I had Plex installed on my Shield ATV, I had to use the premium trial to actually stream from my PC, because it thought the Shield was a mobile device. If that’s changed and I can stream from my PC to the Shield for free, that’s a significant boon.

          • evilpaul
          • 3 years ago

          If there’s a client app (Shield can run Play Store apps, can’t it?) you could just use the Android Client and pay the one time $5 mobile device fee. I have the server on my PC with all my stuff and stream to my phone and just needed to do the $5 thing for it once months ago and it works fine.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      The users that pay for the pass or the phone app activation (to play on the phone – it’s free to cast FROM the phone to a chromecast or other device) are also paying for all us free users. There’s no ads or anything, unless you want it to play theatrical ads before a movie.

    • DancinJack
    • 3 years ago

    I kind of want one. Maybe a good replacement for my Roku 3, which I use constantly for Plex streaming.

    Anyone know if there is a newer version coming down the pipe anytime soon?

      • NTMBK
      • 3 years ago

      There’s a 14nm Pascal powered Tegra coming out at some point, so they might update it to use that.

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