View Full Version : PlexConnect is worth the effort with Apple TV

Mr. Zarniwoop
Sep 21, 2013, 07:19 PM
I thought it might be helpful to share my experience around Plex and Apple TV. For the last few weeks, I've been slowly moving to Plex becoming my only media manager. The final push was once I installed PlexConnect to make it work with my Apple TVs. It's simply fantastic.

You need a system to act as a Plex Media Server (PMS), which can be a PC, Linux box, Mac, or even a NAS. It needs to have access to your media, in almost any format (MKV/AVI/other files in a file system), including iTunes, iPhoto or Aperture libraries. The PMS indexes and tags all of the metadata automatically, using common Internet repositories of media information. The PMS serves various Plex clients, transcoding if the client cannot handle the native format that is stored.

iOS and Android devices can then play media from the Plex Media Server using the Plex ($5) client, including offline sync if you pay for PlexPass ($4/month, $30/year, or $75 lifetime). Or, you can play media from a web browser using Plex/Web, including remote access to your media over the Internet when away from home. Or, you can play media from DNLA clients, Google TV, 2011+ LG TVs, Roku set top boxes, or Samsung devices. Or, you can play media from a Windows or Linux PC or a Mac using Plex Home Theater (formerly Plex Media Center). Or, you can play media from an Apple TV using PlexConnect. And yes, it works fine with the new Apple TV Software Update 6.0 (iOS 7.0 build 11A470e) on both the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs.

Other than the paid mobile (iOS/Android) clients and PlexPass for offline sync with those clients, the rest of the software is free. It's all more hoops-jumping than buying all your media from the iTunes Store and only using Apple devices, but especially PlexConnect is so shockingly good it feels like Apple delivered it. The way it works, PlexConnect runs on a Windows PC or Mac and it runs a little proxy DNS and web server for the Apple TV that "hijacks" the Apple TV Trailers app. There are two things that need to be changed on the Apple TV: (1) the DNS is changed to manually point to the PlexConnect DNS proxy PC/Mac's IP address, and (2) a new trailers.apple.com SSL certificate for your PlexConnect box is added to the Apple TV using the Apple iPhone Configuration tool which is a one-time configuration via the Apple TV's USB port. Then, you just go into the Trailers app on your Apple TV and you are browsing Plex using Plex categories and options in a native Apple TV interface. No jailbreaking is involved. It's so much the Apple experience that PlexConnect can even play purchased iTunes DRMS-protected files if your Apple TV is logged into the proper iTunes account since it's playing the file natively using the native media player on an Apple TV!

It's far less hassle and simpler than XBMC all around, which Plex grew out of, as I did wrestle with XBMC for quite a while before giving up: toying with a hacked Apple TV 1st generation, a jailbroken Apple TV 2nd generation, a Windows 7 HTPC and a Mac. It's broader support than jailbreaking a 2nd generation Apple TV, which is limited to specific older iOS versions. It's more flexible with file formats and a simpler server than turing a PC or Mac into an iTunes box.

For those interested, here are the install guides for PlexConnect (https://github.com/iBaa/PlexConnect/wiki/Install-guides). Once I had my PMS set up, PlexConnect took under 20 minutes to get running start-to-finish on my two Apple TVs.