Plex to enable streaming content in LG TVs and Blu-ray players
If you're not a Mac user, you may not have heard of Plex, a media streaming solution that currently runs on OS X. That's about to change, as today Plex is announcing both the latest version of their service, Plex/Nine, and a partnership with LG Electronics under which LG will ship TVs and Blu-ray players with Plex technology built in.
So let's back up a bit for people unfamiliar with the technology. Plex Media Server, as I said, runs on OS X and facilitates both streaming media from the web, and transcoding and streaming local media to connected devices. For now that connected device is generally another Mac or an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, but Plex tells us an Android client is coming soon (and a Windows version of the server is in the works as well). Plex uses a plug-in architecture that allows 3rd party developers to create plug-ins that provide access to virtually any streaming video source. There are plug-ins for the usual suspects (Netflix, Hulu, iTunes) and more obscure sources as well, like Gametrailers and Sesame Street; over 100 plug-ins are currently available. CrunchGear recently covered Plex/Nine and the client app in great detail (including a video, which I'll embed below).
So Plex is useful but a little geeky when it's on the Mac platform, but what LG is doing with it makes it much more accessible. When you buy an LG 2011 NetCast™ device (TV or Blu-ray player) Plex will power streaming content from the web. By default the device will connect to an LG-run media server in the cloud with a good set of plug-ins ready for use. That'll be a great experience for most users, but those who want even more can download the Plex Media Server software, run it on a local machine, and add any additional plug-ins they require for streaming additional sources, or for streaming music and video files from the computer to the LG device.
Right now iTV is on many people's minds, but having Plex built into an existing device means you don't have to add any kind of additional set-top box to your entertainment center in order to access a much richer set of features than iTV can provide. Fewer boxes is always good, right?
Of course there are other, similar services out there (Boxee springs to mind), so why did LG decide to incorporate Plex? Hojun Nam, LG's Director of LCD TV R&D, had this to say:
"After considering many alternative solutions, LG Electronics chose to utilize Plex's media server platform technology as a part of its next generation NetCastTM enabled home entertainment products because of the breadth of available applications and content and the ease of developing new services. Plex's capabilities offer our customers' additional methods of displaying their content on LG's next generation TVs and that is exciting to us."
Here's the video from Crunchgear, and see page two for the full press release.
PLEX TO ENABLE NEXT GENERATION OF NETCASTTM CONNECTED TVs
San Francisco, CA & Berlin, Germany (IFA) - September 3, 2010 - Today, Plex (www.plexapp.com), a leading software provider of an open platform for media management and consumption, announced the availability of the newest version of its service. Plex/Nine is the first open, three-screen media platform (PC, TV and mobile) designed to simplify and improve the way people experience personal, commercial and streaming content sources across a range of connected devices. Additionally, the company revealed that LG Electronics will be integrating the Plex platform technology into its 2011 NetCastTM enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray devices, making media and applications accessible through a range of products.
"After considering many alternative solutions, LG Electronics chose to utilize Plex's media server platform technology as a part of its next generation NetCastTM enabled home entertainment products because of the breadth of available applications and content and the ease of developing new services," said Hojun Nam, Director of LCD TV R&D at LG Electronics. "Plex's capabilities offer our customers' additional methods of displaying their content on LG's next generation TVs and that is exciting to us."
With its rapidly expanding open platform, Plex is the first and only truly comprehensive digital media management solution that spans both personal and online content. The solution's simple-to-use and intuitive user interface allows consumers to search, navigate, consume, store and sync digital content from multiple platforms and devices. It requires no additional hardware or technology knowledge, ensuring even the most novice user will easily be able to access their favorite TV programs, movies, photos and more - no matter where they are or what device they want to access it with.
"Plex was developed to provide a simple solution for navigating an increasingly complex digital media landscape. As our access to a greater variety of high-quality content continues to grow and we create more of our own content, it is clear that we need a new way to enjoy and provide a consistent experience across the expanding universe of disparate content sources," said Cayce Ullman, CEO and co-founder, Plex. "Plex enables LG to more easily offer a wide variety of content sources to consumers using the NetCastTM services."
Compatibility with mainstream mobile devices, such as iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone products, and soon to be announced Android based products including mobile phones and tablets, ensures that the Plex solution is the industry's first truly integrated three-screen media platform, allowing a seamless experience across devices and media sources. Plex's mobile compatibility also allows users access to their content from anywhere, making content consumption and management seamless across all device types - whenever and wherever users prefer.
"We've been working hard to build this killer platform, and we have an amazing community who has enabled access to over 100 online content sources to date" noted Elan Feingold, CTO, Plex. "It's exciting that this content will now be available in a seamless manner on LG's 2011 NetCastTM enabled TVs and Blu-ray players."
Third-party developers and owners of content have the ability to develop Plex plug-ins, which will then be available to all Plex users across all devices. Currently, there are over 100 plugins available through Plex's service including iTunes, Netflix, CNN, Revision3, YouTube, and many others. Plex for OS X is downloadable for free, with a Windows version to be available later this year. For more information, please visit www.plexapp.com.
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Plex was founded in 2009 by several technology veterans looking to fulfill the promise of a seamless digital media lifestyle. Plex Media Center, the flagship product, is an easy-to-use software solution that allows consumers to access digital media from a wide variety of sources. The Plex platform also enables content providers to make their content easily available across a range of devices. For more information, please visit www.plexapp.com.
More information for developers can be found at http://dev.plexapp.com.