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You Can Now Watch Together on Plex

Plex has launched Watch Together, a new feature which lets you watch movies and TV shows together with friends far away. So, whether you want to watch on-demand content or something from your own library, you can now do so with the people you care about.

An Alternative to Yet Another Quiz Night

The COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns around the world to stop it spreading, have changed everything. Shops, bars, restaurants, and movie theaters have all closed their doors, leaving many of us at a loss for what to do for fun and relaxation.

Some people have turned to hosting quiz nights on Zoom or Houseparty. However, if that sounds too much like hard work for you, perhaps you would prefer to watch your favorite movie with friends. Which is where Plex’s new Watch Together feature comes in.

How to Watch Together With Friends on Plex

As announced in a post on the Plex Blog, Plex has launched Watch Together. As the name suggests, this lets you watch content on Plex with your family and friends. However, crucially in these troubled times, they don’t have to be in the same room as you.

Watch Together lets you watch content together with family and friends online. Whether it’s a free, on-demand movie or TV show, or content from your personal media library. And Plex will keep the content in sync for everyone, allowing you to sit back and relax.

To use Watch Together on Plex, just find the movie or TV show you want to watch, click the three-dot More menu, and select Watch Together. Then, just invite your friends and click Start. The content will play on everyone’s devices at the same time.

Everyone watching together can control playback, which means you need to be careful who you invite. Watch Together is supported on Android, iOS, tvOS, Fire TV, NVIDIA SHIELD, and Roku. Just update to the latest release to ensure compatibility.

Other Ways to Watch Together With Friends

Plex is keen to point out that this is currently only an experimental feature. So beware that there could be bugs and frustrations involved. Still, the company is actively seeking feedback, so why not give Watch Together a go and let Plex know what needs changing?

Plex isn’t the only platform to offer its users a way to watch content together with friends online. So, for those who are bored while stuck at home, here’s how to watch Netflix with friends far away and how to watch YouTube videos with people online.

Read the full article: You Can Now Watch Together on Plex

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Hulu And Plex Are Making It Easier To Watch Streaming Video With Friends

Hulu and Plex are making it easier to watch streaming video with friends. Here's what you need to know.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

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Plex Adds Crackle Content to Its Free Streaming Service

Plex has added Crackle content to its free streaming service. Which is the ad-supported Plex Free Movies and TV. This means that Plex users in the US suddenly have access to thousands more TV shows, movies, and documentaries for free.

In December 2019, Plex launched its own free streaming service. This is full of movies, TV shows, and documentaries, all of which are free to watch. However, Plex has partnered with Crackle to bring thousands more free titles to viewers in the US.

How to Watch Crackle Content on Plex

It should be noted that most of Crackle’s catalog is older movies and TV shows you’ve probably already seen. However, there are some big names, with movies including Captain Phillips and The Illusionist, and TV shows including Hell’s Kitchen and Roseanne.

As is the fashion these days, Crackle has already produced its own original content. This includes On Point, a docuseries following high school basketball players, and Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life, which takes you on tour with the hip-hop pioneer.

Plex claims that as a result of its partnership with Crackle, “Plex users in the US will now be able to stream more individual movies than you can stream on Netflix.” Which is a bold claim but an intriguing one for those who don’t mind watching ads.

To watch Crackle content on Plex, just open the Movies & TV section of the Plex app. There you’ll find all of the movies and TV shows offered by Crackle, organized in various different ways. Just click on a title and tap Play to start streaming it for free.

The Best TV Shows to Watch on Crackle

While Plex is only offering Crackle content in the US, the company claims to be “working on new partnerships to deliver even more free streaming content to all our friends around the world in the coming weeks.” Or you could just use a VPN instead.

This is a great deal for Plex users, who can now watch even more content for free just for putting up with the occasional commercial break. And if you’re new to Crackle and unsure where to start, we have listed the best free TV shows to watch on Crackle.

Read the full article: Plex Adds Crackle Content to Its Free Streaming Service

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The 5 Best Raspberry Pi Smart TV Projects We’ve Seen

Need a smart TV but don’t have the budget? While there’s a good chance that you already own hardware that can make your TV “smart”, one low-budget piece of kit can make all the difference.

For under $50 you can turn a dumb TV into a smart TV with a Raspberry Pi. Here’s what you need to know about building your own Raspberry Pi streaming TV box.

Raspberry Pi 4 Raspberry Pi 4 Buy Now On Amazon $49.99

5 Things a DIY Smart TV Should Offer

Before getting down to the “how,” consider the “what.”

Your Raspberry Pi can substitute the functionality of a smart TV, making a so-called dumb TV into a smart TV. So, what should you expect from it?

  1. The ability to play media from a USB storage device or external HDD. This is possible via a USB port on smart TVs. On the Raspberry Pi, you should have a USB port spare to do the same.
  2. Video streaming from online sites like Netflix and YouTube. The Chromium browser for the Raspberry Pi can play the Netflix library, or you can install a Kodi add-on for Netflix.
  3. Remote control from a mobile device. Kodi can be set up with a client app on your smartphone to control the software remotely. Otherwise, an infrared, Bluetooth, or wireless remote control can be setup, with a companion USB dongle connected to the Pi.
  4. News and weather. A smart TV should be able to pull news and weather data and present it to you when you switch on the television.
  5. PVR support. If you need to record a TV show, connect a USB TV card and hard disk drive.

While these features aren’t possible with all Raspberry Pi smart TV projects, they’re certainly available in the most popular option: Kodi.

1. Build a Raspberry Pi Streaming Box With Kodi

OSMC running on a Raspberry Pi Zero
Image credit: David Marsh via Flickr

If you haven’t already seen Kodi in action, now is the time to try it out. Several Kodi images are available for the Raspberry Pi, each offering largely the same experience:

How you install these depends on your experience level. LibreElec is one of several operating systems available in the Raspberry Pi NOOBS installer, making it the simplest installation. Alternatively, you can download your preferred image and write it to your Pi’s microSD card.

Kodi can also be installed as part of other projects, such as a RecalBox retro gaming center. Or you can also install Kodi manually:

sudo apt update

sudo apt install kodi

Once installed, add-ons let you access video and audio content from across the internet. These are apps that present content of your choice. For instance, Kodi features a YouTube add-on.

Beware, however: as some add-ons are illegal, you should stick to those available from the official Kodi add-on repository.

Kodi also offers weather reporting, so you can check whether you’re missing sunshine while browsing YouTube.

2. Stream Media Across Your Network With Plex

plex library

An alternative to Kodi, Plex enables you to stream media across your home network. This client-server dynamic uses your Raspberry Pi as a client and a system running Plex as the server.

For the server, you’ll need a PC (Windows, macOS, or Linux), or a NAS box. You can even install the Plex server on a Raspberry Pi.

The RasPlex client software is installed with custom microSD card writing software, using the tool on the RasPlex website.

Download: RasPlex client

Once everything is set up, your Raspberry Pi Plex box will stream TV shows and movies to your TV. Pretty smart!

See our detailed guide to installing Plex client on your Raspberry Pi for the full details.

3. KDE Plasma Bigscreen: Open Source Raspberry Pi 4 Smart TV

Employing a modified KDE Neon distribution, this Raspberry Pi implementation of Plasma Bigscreen features Mycroft AI and libcec. So, as well as a smart TV, you get voice control (Mycroft) and compatibility with your TV’s existing remote (libcec).

As an open project, you can set up your own smart TV without worrying about privacy or censorship.

At the time of writing, the Big Screen apps are limited to YouTube, Soundcloud, and BitChute. Despite this, it’s worth checking out—building a Raspberry Pi smart TV has never been so easy.

Download: KDE Plasma Bigscreen

4. Cast Media From Android to Your Raspberry Pi TV

One popular low-cost approach to making your dumb TV smart is to use a Google Chromecast. But if you own a Raspberry Pi, you don’t even need to go this far.

Google Chromecast works in much the same way as Miracast and other wireless HDMI technologies. Simply, an app window or entire mobile desktop is streamed wirelessly to a TV. From here, apps can be run, games played in big screen mode, video streamed, etc.

Or for a more straightforward implementation, take a look at the Raspicast app on Google Play. Once you’ve done that, check our guide to setting up a Raspberry Pi Chromecast.

You’ll be streaming media from your phone to your TV via a Raspberry Pi in minutes!

5. Android TV on Raspberry Pi

Turn your Raspberry Pi into an Android TV box

A final option is to abandon standard Raspbian-based Raspberry Pi distros and opt for Android instead.

With Android installed on your Raspberry Pi, you can then configure the operating system to play media files through your TV. It’s like having a big-screen version of Android in your home!

Android TV is a version of Android designed for set-top boxes, but you don’t need this for the Raspberry Pi. Follow our guide to installing Android TV on Raspberry Pi and go from there.

While you can’t build a Roku box with a Raspberry Pi, Android TV is the next thing.

5 Ways to Build a Raspberry Pi Smart TV Solution

If you own a Raspberry Pi, it’s likely that at some point you’ve used it as a smart TV. After all, the various Kodi ports are some of the most popular disk images beyond Raspbian. And if you’re using a Raspberry Pi 4, you’re going to enjoy one of the best Kodi experiences available.

We’ve looked at five options for a Raspberry Pi smart TV build:

  1. Kodi
  2. Plex
  3. Plasma Bigscreen
  4. Chromecast substitute
  5. Android TV on Raspberry Pi

Happy just using Kodi? Here’s how to set up a Raspberry Pi Smart TV with Netflix, Amazon VOD, and Plex.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Raspberry Pi Smart TV Projects We’ve Seen

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You Can Now Watch Live TV for Free on Plex

Plex is giving away its Live TV feature for free for up to three months. Live TV is normally only available to Plex Pass subscribers, but for a limited time only, anyone with a free Plex account (plus a couple of other necessities) can watch Live TV without paying a penny.

How to Watch Live TV for Free on Plex

Given the coronavirus pandemic that is forcing people to work from home, lots of companies are doing what they can to help. And Plex is no exception, offering three months of Live TV for free to anyone who wants it. As detailed on the Plex Forum.

To watch Live TV on Plex, you’ll need a Plex account (available for free), a Plex Media Server (also free to set up), a TV antenna, and a TV tuner. You can then watch any over-the-air broadcasts available in your area on the device of your choosing.

There are some caveats: This does not include DVR functionality or any other premium features. These features still require an active Plex Pass subscription. You’ll also only get 48 hours of guide data, whereas Plex Pass subscribers get two weeks’ worth.

Even with these caveats, this means you can now watch Live TV on Plex for free between now and June 30. Which is nice. Obviously, Plex will be hoping to persuade some of you to buy a Plex Pass after this ends, but there are reasons why you don’t need a Plex Pass.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Master Plex

We’re big fans of Plex here at MakeUseOf, so we have compiled a list of the best tips, tricks, tutorials, and guides to help you master Plex Media. You can use this exhaustive resource for help and advice whether you’re new to Plex or an experienced user.

Read the full article: You Can Now Watch Live TV for Free on Plex

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Mastering Plex Media: The 25+ Best Tips, Tricks, Tutorials, and Guides

We have all the tips, tricks, tutorials, and guides you’ll need to become a full-fledged master of Plex Media. Newbies and veterans, welcome!

Have you ever wanted to run your own personal Netflix-type service within your own home? Imagine if you could load up all of your digital movies, TV shows, music, and more onto a single device, then be able to stream it on any device on the same internet network.

Well, Plex lets you do that—and so much more. Plex is one of the best home media solutions available today. And the best part? It’s free to use! There are some non-essential convenience features that do require a paid subscription, but they’re truly non-essential. The best bits of Plex are, indeed, all free.

If you’ve never even heard of Plex before, you’ll want to check out our complete newbie’s guide to Plex. It’s long, it’s comprehensive, and it’s everything you need to get started even with zero knowledge.

Choosing a Device as Your Plex Media Server

best-solutions-plex

The beauty of Plex is that it can run on many devices: most computers, certain gaming consoles, network-attached storage (NAS) drives, and even some routers. Perfect for an always-on home media streaming solution!

If you just want to stream Plex off of your laptop or computer, check out our Plex newbie guide that was linked up above!

Configuring Your Plex Media Server

Once the Plex software is installed and running on your device of choice, you’ll want to get it properly set up for your needs. Check out these tips and tricks that we’ve compiled over the years:

More Plex Tips and Tricks

plex library

The general idea of Plex is simple—you select what you want to stream, and stream it—but you can take things up another level with some of the tips and tricks below:

An Even Better Plex Experience

The default Plex software is pretty great right out of the box. However, you can definitely improve the experience using third-party software, apps, and plugins that Plex fans have created over the years:

Understanding Plex’s Paid Features

If you’ve gotten this far, you might be wondering what kinds of  “non-essential” features are hidden behind Plex’s paid subscription called Plex Pass:

Alternatives to Plex Media Server

Plex is arguably the best at what it does, but there are several alternatives out there in case you find that Plex isn’t exactly the right solution for you:

Read the full article: Mastering Plex Media: The 25+ Best Tips, Tricks, Tutorials, and Guides

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Plex Slammed By Huge Copyright Coalition For Not Policing Pirates

In days gone by, living rooms around the world could be found stacked with video cassette tapes full of films and TV shows. Some bought, others recorded at home, these copies would need to be waded through, to find whatever content the owner fancied watching that day.

With the rise of digital technology, however, such physical collections have largely disappeared, replaced by copies that occupy virtually zero space, with thousands of movies, TV shows, music tracks, and photographs effortlessly stored on relatively cheap hard drives.

Paper-based indexing systems, for those who cared to maintain them in the analog age, have now been replaced by software that not only does all the hard work but also makes collections a thing of beauty. While there are alternatives, Emby for example, the clear market leader is Plex. However, the company behind the software is now facing a backlash for failing to control how people interact with its creation.

According to CreativeFuture, a pro-copyright coalition of more than 560 companies and organizations, Plex – which is basically a pretty media player – is helping to fan the flames of piracy. While there are some exceptions which we’ll come to shortly, people generally need to be in physical possession of movies or TV shows to watch them using Plex, with torrents providing the necessary material.

“[T]he problem now finds itself on a dangerous precipice where it could easily slip right back into becoming a crisis again, as it was in the mid-2000s – before streaming was all the rage,” Creative Future writes.

“Thanks to a rapidly growing media application called Plex, torrent-based piracy is back in vogue, and better than ever (for criminals who have no problem with profiting from content that doesn’t belong to them, that is).”

To set the scene, that Plex is some kind of ‘rogue’ application, CreativeFuture (CF) aligns the media player with another piece of software, one that has also suffered reputational damage as a result of its users’ activities. The choice of adjective to describe both is particularly interesting.

“To understand what Plex is and how it functions, it is helpful to look at Kodi – another dangerous digital media player that we have written about repeatedly here at CreativeFuture,” CF notes.

The claim that Plex is dangerous is supported by an article published in The Verge, which reported on so-called ‘Plex shares’. Without going into the minutiae, ‘shares’ effectively allow Plex users to access content on other users’ Plex servers which, in some cases, could have been obtained illegally.

That some Plex users allow others to access huge libraries of pirated content is a fact, with some being targeted by anti-piracy groups such as BREIN. But, in common with so many piracy controversies in recent years, CF feels that if Plex users are doing something illegal, then the company behind the Plex software should be held responsible for their actions.

In this respect, CF claims that like “most” tech platforms, Plex is doing what it can to avoid accountability.

“In turning a blind eye to its piracy problem, Plex has joined the ranks of internet heavyweights who refuse to take responsibility for the criminal behavior on their platforms,” the copyright coalition notes.

“With heightened scrutiny on the biggest platforms, lawmakers across the country, and abroad, have increasingly demonstrated less tolerance for tech companies that sidestep law and order in their relentless quest for user growth.”

Quite what CF believes Plex should do isn’t covered. If we take current industry strategies as a benchmark, we might guess that the organization would encourage the use of some kind of pro-active filtering mechanism, which would prevent Plex users from adding potentially infringing material to their own computers.

Of course, that would mean massive implications for end-user privacy, almost impossible calculations to determine who is allowed to add content to a library within the law in multiple jurisdictions, plus an inevitable backlash and migration to other platforms that reject such intrusions. It would also require the company behind Plex to get deeply involved and therefore acquire ‘knowledge’ of infringing user behavior, something that raises all kinds of red flags.

The piece, which deserves to be read in its own right, also accuses or Reddit of being a “notorious piracy-enabling outlet”. What it fails to mention, and probably should’ve done, however, is that Plex is already making progress with various entertainment industry groups to tackle piracy in the best way possible – providing users with easy access to licensed content.

In 2019, Plex announced it would begin streaming thousands of free movies, TV shows and music documentaries from within the app, after striking deals with relevant rightsholders. The content is ad-supported and the hope is to expand the offering in the future.

“Over time, we’ll be adding more stuff from different studios and creators — from Oscar-winning Hollywood movies to the latest from India, Russia, China, Japan, Africa, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe to really cool independent movies fresh off the festival circuit,” the company said.

That Plex now finds itself in the firing line isn’t really a surprise – if Reddit is a “notorious” enabler of piracy, then any company with end users could find itself tarred with the same brush. TorrentFreak contacted the software developer for its opinion on the latest set of claims but at the time of publication, Plex chose to remain silent.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.