Plex is a partially open-source freeware media player software with a 10-foot user interface (optimized for use with a TV), with a matching closed source media server (Plex Media Server) software, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Its media player source code was initially forked from XBMC, a free media player, in 2008. Plex’s front end media player, Plex Media Center, allows the user to manage and playback video, photos, music, and podcasts from a local or remote computer running Plex Media Server.

In addition, the integrated Plex Online service provides the user with a growing list of community-driven plugins for online content including Hulu, Netflix, and CNN video. Plex began as a freeware hobby project but since 2010 has evolved into a commercial software business that is owned and developed by a single for-profit startup company, (Plex, Inc.).

Plex supports a wide range of multimedia formats and includes features such as playlists, audio visualizations, slideshows, weather forecasts reporting, and an expanding array of third-party plugins. As a media center, Plex can play most audio and video file formats, as well as display images from many sources, including CD/DVD-ROM drive, USB flash drives, the Internet, and local area network shares. DVD playback is not yet fully integrated and requires the use of helper applications like Apple’s DVD Player. Plex is able to decode high-definition video up to 1080p. With the appropriate hardware, Plex supports hardware decoding of H.264 video.

The Video Library, one of the Plex metadata databases, is a key feature of Plex. It allows for the automatic organization of your video content by information associated with the video files (movies and recorded TV Shows) themselves. Plex can automatically fetch meta data information and artwork from sites including IMDb, TheMovieDB, TheTVDB, freedb and Allmusic using built-in web scraping functionality. The Library Mode view in Plex allows you to browse your video content by categories such as Genre, Title, Year, Actors and Directors. Unlike the desktop versions of Plex, mobile apps are not freeware; the official apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone are all $4.99.


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