Originally Posted by StCelery
So your entire media library is just full of one-off DRM-free DVD rips? Why would you want to have to transcode all your files every single time you watch anything instead of just putting the file in a relatively universal format to begin with so you can play it on anything? ...
You can only use skins on a computer; there's no way to change the appearance of the front end on Rokus or TVs or any other device besides a PC which can use Plex at this point. ...
As far as Plex's scraping agents go, it's great idea, but it simply doesn't work unless you want incomplete and incorrect and Google Translation sounding metadata with generally lousy art when it can find any art or, for that matter, any information about the movie at all. ...
... extra channels and plug-ins is great, too. But the most exciting ones are not in the official app "store" and their developers seem neither able nor interested in staying on top of keeping them updated and functioning.
... the entire development of it seems really unfocused and, frankly, pretty lazy given its popularity, availability and how many people are involved, at least in theory, in the day to day operations. Their forums have repeated bug notifications and requests going unfixed and unanswered for years. I guess it's most frustrating because the potential is so obvious and, seemingly, so close and there seems to just be apathy about making it 'great' rather than decent.
Yes, my entire local media collection has no DRM. Through various methods and tools, the DRM was removed in the ripping process. I found trying to use the digital copies provided by various content providers to be a bigger hassle than it was worth. Thus, the extra time it took to make my own was just easier and more robust.
As for Plex and transcoding, in the settings, you can set it to do direct play by default. And if the player can't play the file natively, then the PMS will transcode the file to a format the player can. Since 95% of library is in mkv, it will need to transcode for the Roku1s and Roku2, and most of my Android mobile devices. But some files probably have bit rates that I can't send because of the limited bandwidth of my mobile data carrier. I use Plex all the time, and half the time away from home. You are correct, transcoding can have issues, and part of the quality is doing to depend on the power of the CPU of the PMS machine. The benefit though, one file, for all devices. Heck, with the Plex synce feature for Android and iOS, you can add content to be stored on a mobile device if you won't have internet access, say a plane flight. On side note, it's pretty cool that you can turn your mobile device into a PMS for that synced media. Plus, I don't have to have try to find mobile media that can handle MKVs or if it will fit on the microSD card; I suggest BSPlayer or VLC for Android.
Otherwise, you run into what you're talking about. Having to keep multiple saves for the various devices. For many media suites, the best way to keep multiple listings for popping up is to create multiple directories based on device or format, and then create a separate libraries.
Personally, I use MakeMKV to create a source mkv. These are just disc conversions, no transcoding. Thus blu ray discs tend to be around 20GB file size. I then take to file and use Handbrake to make it smaller. This does involve transcoding. But I can get those files to around 4GB to 6GB in size. Since I have eye issues, I don't notice all the video quality degradation, but for the most part, most people the quality loss from the default settings isn't that that noticeable and what is, doesn't ruin the experience. Once the file is review to make sure it is sufficient, I move it to my library, and then delete the MakeMKV mkv, and the disc is stored away. In Plex, I have two libraries for this process. One I call Original MKV and the other Test MKV. But you get the idea.
No need to take pictures of your TV for Netflix, Hulu, and or whatever other online service you may use. I subscribe to both and use them on Roku, Xbox360, PS3, and Android mobile devices. I'm familiar with the UI. In fact, I've used Netflix Instant Watch service shortly after it launch on the PC, when how much streaming time you got was based on the dollar amount you paid per month on your bill. I even pre-ordered the Roku box (It was the called the Netflix Instant Watch Player by Roku). Let me tell you, the UI in those days was clunky, and that's being generous.
I'm aware that the only the UI can be easily changed on the PC. This is true for any of the media suites, such as XBMC. Thus, I wasn't disagreeing with you that the UI could use some tweaking or improvement. In the four something years I have used Plex, I have seen UI changes. They're slowing coming, but it does occur. At the same time, the is a definite subjective to the user.
As for the development of Plex, it's no worse then other community based projects. I know they're slightly different in that not all the code for it is open, and they are a private company now. I see this a lot with firewall software, so they're not unique as a business model. Considering, what Plex does, it functions very well. I don't believe Plex is a very large company. I would surprise if they had over ten people on their payroll. I think they're around five people, but don't quote me.
I don't disagree with you about the Plex forums being full of people with issues. And some issues that don't get resolved. Yet, most forums I visit, especially product based, are almost nothing to issues and complaints. People go there looking for solutions and help. Most don't go there to praise. It's the nature of the beast of the forums. Although some issues may not get resolved, but it could be just the person or some oddball event that can't be reproduced reliably to find the actual problem to create a solution. I personally, had an issue with Plex, specially with the Android app. I was able to post the logs and what was happening to their forums. They found the problem and had an update with the fix the next day.
As for the scrappers, I don't use local metadata files. I just know they can be used. Some people are into creating their own or what it from different sources. I find using IMDB and TVRage, the default sources that XBMC and Plex use is fine. My biggest issue, is not with scrappers, but the info. I get annoyed that they don't put the movies summaries first and then the extra about debutes and awards. Not all the players, because they're new and still developing, don't scroll, such as the one for the Web. I haven't found the artwork to be low resolution. Though, I do believe some content probably does because they're old and no one updated it. I rarely change the artwork. I just don't care. The only issue I've encountered, but I have had it with both XBMC and Plex, when setting up the libraries, such as after a fresh install on a PC, I can only do library at a time, and usually one directory. I find if I try to more, the scraper won't pulled the metadata for all the files, and I could never get it to add it later.
With all that said, I do appreciate Plex's gives a priority to function over form. The UI may be clunky at times, but it still works and it's still pretty to use. It just may not be as pretty or well organized compared to services such as Netflix that have enough cash flow to hire someone who specializes the UI design.
Plex, as well as other media suites, such as iTunes, XBMC, Media Browser, and so forth all have things they do really well, and others very poorly. And none of them are one fit for everyone. And this is good thing because it gives us users a choice to find something that fits our needs best. Give competition for them to improve and inspire each other.
By no means do I mean to imply that you should use Plex, XBMC, or something else instead of iTunes. I was just sharing that in my experience, Plex has worked well for my needs and did not experience that you did. If anything, I'm suggesting if you do choose to use something else, you may want to considering changing how you set up your localized media to save space and eliminate some of the other issues you encountered.