The media center application Plex has just rolled out a major new feature: live TV.
Plex isn’t the source of this live TV – users will need to have that themselves, in the form of either an over-the-air antenna and PC TV tuner or (in the case of cord-havers and cord-shavers) a cable card. From there, though, Plex can take that signal through the computer running your Plex server and sling it out to your mobile devices running the Plex app.
This new functionality builds on Plex’s existing DVR service. Plex users were already able to record shows from server-connected antennas and cable cards and then replay them on other devices with the Plex app. The DVR feature has been improved, too, and the result is a slick and unified system for watching and recording live TV in the home and on the go.
The feature is available only to Plex Pass subscribers, so users of the free version of Plex will have to pony up the $4.99/month (or $39.99/year, or $199.99/lifetime) to get the new functionality.
Platform support for the new feature is a little limited at the moment, but iOS, Android TV/Nvidia Shield (which is also the only streaming box capable of acting as a Plex server, not just running the Plex client app) are both capable of handling the feature from the get-go. More support is coming in the form of a rollout on Apple TV, Android mobile, and Plex’s in-browser app – likely within a month, according to Plex Director of Product and Growth Jason Williams.
The new rollout expands support for SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun devices and adds support for products from Hauppauge, DVB Logic, and other manufacturers. Again, Williams says, users can expect to see support for other hardware come along later.
While it’s not yet available on all platforms, Plex’s new app looks sharp in action on the Nvidia Shield. Plex’s app offers powerful filters and content discovery features – recommendations for live TV, for instance, are based not just on prior live TV viewing, but on local content as well. The metadata for live TV is as extensive as it is for local content, and the app even predicts recording conflicts and allows users to prioritize some recordings over others.
Multiple users can watch the same channel at the same time, and users can watch shows live while recording at the same time, all while using just one tuner. Plex supports multiple tuners, too, which opens the door for more recording and viewing different channels on different devices at once.
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