Plex continues to endear itself as a media streaming platform. Like many I have a small RAID server that hosts media including movies (ripped from discs that I own), music and workout videos — plus about 16 years of raw Stark Insider video footage. With Plex I can stream them to almost any device in the house, be it an iPad, Android phone or an NVIDIA Shield for watching movies on the big screen. It works extremely well. Icing on the cake: I can even access this content remotely when travelling (far from the most needed thing in the world currently).
Now, Plex has announced a cute pandemic-era feature. It’s called “Watch Together” and as the name implies it allows you and your friends and family to enjoy a virtually movie night.
Per the announcement here’s how Watch Together works:
Find a movie or episode you want to watch together, invite your friends on Plex (or even invite them to join Plex), and let us handle keeping playback in sync for everyone. It’s pretty great. No more “okay pressing play in 3, 2, 1…” or suffering through the third act in desperate need of a bathroom break. Anyone watching with you can play, pause, or seek around during the session. Before you ask, yes, “that guy” can ruin it for everyone. Pro tip: maybe don’t invite “that guy” to Watch Together with you.
Watch Together works on Apple (iOS, tvOS), Android (mobile and TV), FireTV, NVIDIA Shield, and Roku — so pretty much any device under the sun is covered. Plex says you can use the feature for content in your own media library (home movie night?) in addition to its free on-demand movies.
Note that this is an “experimental” feature, which is part of “Plex Labs” which tests these sorts of new things from time to time. So there could be a hiccup here and there.
Meanwhile let me take a quick and rather indulgent moment to offer up some arthouse movie recommendations from the last year or so that should make for a wonderful non superheroe/Marvel movie night:
- The Lighthouse
- Uncut Gems
- Elizabeth Harvest
And, of course, a David Lynch masterpiece ever ready for a surreal shared viewing experience:
- Mulholland Drive
Plex is really killing it right now. If you have a media collection at home and want to stream to various devices (and have it transcoded automatically to different resolutions) I think it’s the best solution out there right now. I’ve been having a hoot with the new and rather amazing PlexAmp app as well. Redicovering all my lost MP3s on the server and enjoying the creative “Mix Builder” feature which is pure magic. I’ve even started re-ripping favorite CDs using the FLAC codec for lossless quality — because in 2020 hard drive space for music files is of no concern given storage prices, and because obscure Canadian new wave needs every synthy detail preserved.
In any case enjoy a virtual movie night. Popcorn and social distancing. And no need to worry about parking.