- Offers a free option, paid options start at $4.99/mo.
- Premium options include both video and music streaming
- Sign up here
Plex is a must-have content streaming and organization tool. Users can upload their own media files, including music and videos, to a server and then stream that content to any compatible device running a Plex app. The service offers a selection of free content and has also partnered with Tidal to provide access to streaming music and video content for a fee. There are Plex apps for mobile devices, web players, smart TVs and streaming boxes. Uploaded content can be shared with anyone who has a Plex account.
Plex was first created by developer Elan Feingold, who developed a media center application for his Mac computer in December 2007. Software executives Cayce Ullman and Scott Olechowski discovered the project via online forums. The trio teamed up and founded Plex Inc. in December 2009. The service started out by launching apps for major players like Hulu, Netflix and YouTube. It then branched out into content agreements with major publishers like Lionsgate and MGM. It signed an agreement with music streaming service Tidal in November 2018.
Compare Plex plans
Plex has several plans available to subscribers, including one free and three paid options. We took a look at the available choices and compared them on the basis of price, amount of content, sound quality and features. The music streaming element of the service requires a Tidal subscription to listen to complete songs.
|Plex||Plex Pass||Plex Premium||Tidal HiFi + Plex Pass|
|Content||1,000+ movies and shows||1,000+ movies and shows||60 million tracks, 240,000 videos, 1000+ movies and shows||60 million tracks, 240,000 videos, 1000+ movies and shows|
|Music lyric playback||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced music quality||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Free trial length||N/A||30 days||30 days||30 days|
Why Plex may be the right streaming service for you
Plex makes it easy to store and organize personal media content, such as music and video files. It then permits users to watch and listen to that content using any compatible device. Although it offers a selection of free movies and TV shows, Plex’s selection of commercial content is limited — and the service regularly changes its offerings. This isn’t the place to look for a Netflix-caliber library. The service is best for users with large personal content libraries who’re looking for a way to store and organize, then share and enjoy content across several devices.
Access to the Plex media server and its movies & TV streaming service is free, as are limited versions of its mobile and web apps. The service limits music and video streaming on the free mobile app to just one minute. It also watermarks photos until the user makes an in-app purchase or buys a Plex Pass subscription.
Upgrading to Plex Pass activates all mobile apps plus live TV and cloud DVR storage. It also allows users to download content for offline listening and viewing on Android or iOS devices, connect their media server up to their home system, access their play history and unlock premium sound quality.
The Plex Premium service includes all of that plus advanced music features such as library augmentation, loudness leveling, and sweet fades. Users can also take advantage of Tidal hubs, playlists and recommendations.
To get started, users need to download the Plex Media Server. They can manage the server from their web app, add personal media files, stream content and setup access to live TV broadcasts.
Plex is available across desktop and mobile devices, including:
- Alexa products, such as Amazon Echo
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android TV
- Apple iOS
- Apple TV
- Nvidia Shield
- PlayStation 3 and 4
- Sonos smart speakers
- Web app
- Xbox One
Plex features you’ll love
We took a closer look at what Plex has to offer and the standout features of the service. Discover the benefits of the Plex service, from media storage and streaming to the provision of lyrics and sound quality.
Powerful media storage
Plex gives users total control of all their digital media. Its software enables them to organize, stream and share personal collections of movies, TV, music and photos anywhere on multiple devices.
Benefits of the paid service also include lyrics to music streaming via LyricFind and the Plex Home service, which lets users easily switch between multiple accounts and provides early access to new apps and features.
High sound quality
Plex claims to deliver the “best sound you can find” through Tidal’s Hi-Fi tiers of music service. Listeners can choose between premium and high-fidelity quality.
Live broadcast TV access
In addition to impressive music and video services, Plex also allows viewers to watch and record live broadcast TV through the app. This perk requires users to have a compatible TV antenna and tuner.
What to watch on Plex
The on-demand video element of Plex isn’t of the same quality as other video streaming services on the market. It lacks big Hollywood hits that are available through other video streaming offerings but does offer thousands of movies for subscribers to watch on-demand.
The most popular movies section includes the documentary The Outrageous World of Katy Perry, a science fiction movie Vegas Skyline, the original Zulu, A Christmas Carol and a host of straight-to-DVD horror movies including The Slumber Party Massacre. The Plex Pass service provides cinema trailers and further movie extras such as cast interviews, behind the scenes features and deleted scenes.
Signing up for a Plex account gives users discounted use of Tidal’s library of 60 million tracks, which the company claims, ensures “the most complete music service out there.” However, streaming through Tidal requires an active subscription to the service. Free Plex users can only listen to 30-second snippets of tracks.
Anyone with a sizable personal media library who’s looking for a convenient way to store, organize, share and enjoy content should take a good look at Plex. Users who pay for access to Tidal’s service get a solid music streaming experience, and those with a compatible antenna and tuner can watch live local TV through the app. But given the service’s limited library, movie and TV fans looking for something like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu or Sling TV should probably look elsewhere.