Some of you may recall that our own sweet Colton wrote about his Home Theatre PC (HTPC) adventures, and his sadness over the death of Windows Media Center. His was a lovely article, and I encourage you to read it. However, in 2019, for many of us there is a better way. Instead of having an entire computer hooked up to my TV, I started using Plex, and I'm not going back. Plex is an application available basically everywhere—Windows, Microsoft Store, Android, Tizen, FireTV, iOS, macOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, and probably more ecosystems support it.
When we moved some months ago, we needed to downsize. We essentially wanted to bring only what we could fit onto or in our Subaru Impreza. That meant I needed to have fewer computers, since for some reason my wife insisted on bringing all three of our children. So, I arrived in Calgary without an HTPC. What's a man to do? Obviously, you sob for a while, but you can only cry for so long, even after such a deep loss. Eventually, you must move onto finding solutions, as Colton detailed in his piece. For me, the solution was Plex.
Plex works by running server software on your computer, whether it be Windows, Linux, or macOS, and it sends your media through client applications installed on whatever device you're using, or through a browser, where you can then enjoy it.
My TV is a Samsung UN43MU6300F, which is a Tizen-based 4K smart TV with low-end HDR support. (Read: Cheap enough that I could buy it without my wife killing me.) Decent smart TVs now come with quite a collection of features, including apps like Plex, and if you switch the region on the TV to the USA (no easy feat), there's even a built-in official Steam Link app. Here was my solution! Not only could I store my video library far away and still access it, I could also stream games to my TV. My tears of sorrow became streaming tears of joy.
If you lack a smart TV, you can get a dongle to make your TV pretend it's smart. They're available from many different companies, such as Amazon and Roku, essentially all of which have support for Plex.