There’s a new media server on the market. younity is a clean and well-designed little app that aims to keep things simple and compete with Plex for the “just works” crowd in the media server space. Does it hold up in comparison to Plex and other competitors? Here’s our complete review.
younity is far from the only media center app on the market. It joins a crowded space that already features high-profile options like Plex and Emby. But younity’s crisp and simple user interface gives it an immediate edge over most of its competition. In fact, I’d argue that younity is the first server app to really challenge Plex (Cordcutting.com’s current favorite media server) in terms of usability and style.
The user experience is very much of the “just works” variety. You can sign in via Facebook if you’d like, and setting up the server is as easy as double-clicking the file. The process of adding your media to the server is automated – the app just scans for the relevant file types and sets everything up for you.
On the client side, younity’s apps are very easy to use. You have a choice of Android or iOS (more on this in the “Platforms”section of this review). The menu setup is simple.
While adding all of your files to the server is fully automated, I found that sorting those files into the convenient sub-categories was something that I had to do myself. Frankly, it seemed more convenient to just tap the main category (type of file) and then go straight to “All.” Users with larger content libraries, however, will probably want to take advantage of all of the sub-categories and sorting options.
If you want to customize your experience, younity doesn’t have a lot to offer you. You can left-click the icon on your server computer to access a “Preferences” menu that will let you add and remove folders from the server, but that’s about as much as you can change. That’s pretty much the experience on the server side – there’s no media center-type functionality on the server computer the way that there is with Plex.
How well a media server like younity streams will depend on the quality of your wireless network. In our trials, we found the streaming to be very smooth but the picture quality to be a little inconsistent. Your mileage will vary.
younity is currently all about making your content available on mobile devices. Only an iOS app and an Android app are currently available, so fans of Roku and Fire TV are out of luck.
Chromecast is an option for Android users, but the functionality isn’t really integrated into the app. Instead, you’ll have to use screen mirroring work-arounds. Here’s a rundown of your options from younity’s site.
Overall, platform support is a clear weak point for younity as things stand. It seems likely that this is an area that will improve with time, but for now, it’s far from ideal.
younity is entirely free. It’s not uncommon for server apps to be free, though most have a premium version of some kind to pay the bills. Free is nice, though, even if it is industry standard!
younity is a crisp and straightforward little app. As currently constructed, it lacks a lot of the features and platform support that competitors like Plex and Emby have. Users of major streaming boxes like Roku or Fire TV will want to pass on this one. Even Chromecast users with Android devices may find that watching on the big screen just isn’t easy enough.
The tasks that it does handle, though, younity does well. The experience is exceedingly simple and user-friendly, making it a good choice for those who want a no-hassle server experience. If you’re looking to watch your local content on a mobile device (or don’t mind using screen mirroring on an Android device and Chromecast), this is an app that’s worth checking out. It has a limited appeal, but it does have appeal.
Update: After this review was written, younity introduced Chromecast support and a desktop app.
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