Plex vs Front Row - Your View

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by digitalmac, Oct 31, 2009.


Preferences for your Mac mini

Poll closed Nov 30, 2009.
  1. Front Row

    17 vote(s)
  2. Plex

    47 vote(s)
  3. Others

    3 vote(s)
  1. digitalmac macrumors member


    Sep 5, 2008
    How do you compare between Plex and Front Row? What would you prefer?
  2. wartnig macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2009
    Shropshire, UK
    Does anyone have any screenshots of there plex interface? and organised media? I'd love to see how people have theirs setup.. I currently use Frontrow.. but really want to try and get Plex all setup..
    WHat skins do people use?
  3. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    I've got approx 250 movies (most in HD) and a handful of TV series. It can be difficult to get used to adding files and Plex's naming structures. Once you get past that hurdle, Plex is fantastic. I love that it grabs all of the info/movie posters.
  4. King Mook Mook macrumors 6502

    I use Plex for my needs. For me it's because Plex is simply the best tool to play 1080p Blu Ray rips, as if one were to try and play it on Quicktime/Front Row/VLC etc. it is very very very very laggy. Although it does have quite a learning curve and if you were to use it I would recommend putting on a skin such as Aeon, which is the one I use and I find it to work very well and make things much more efficient (

    King Mook Mook
  5. Amigalander macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    The PLEX interface seems unusably complex and unintuitive to me. I spent some time with it trying to figure it out, but made little progress. I just couldn't use it.
  6. coogee macrumors regular

    May 28, 2007
    Plex might take a little time setting up - the skin, your preferences, your shares, adding stuff to the library (which you don't have to use) etc..

    But, considering all the ridiculous hoops you need to jump through to convert all your media to iTunes, to tag it correctly etc. it's far more straightforward than Front Row and a much much better featureset.

    Plex works for me. Front Row works for Apple. I can convert to fitting the Apple model of what media I'm allowed to have and where I'm allowed to have it, or I can just use Plex.

    Plex + Aeon >>> Front Row.

    The best I can say for Front Row is that it fits neatly with iTunes for music but even that isn't particularly well implemented.

    My 2c anyway, I'm sure the next person will have a different view, whatever works for you.

    If you wanted to make a direct comparison, break it down - Movies, TV, Music, Photos etc.. and different formats..
  7. tallyho macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2004
    I'd be interested if any UK users are using Plex and getting it to automatically scrape appropriate UK metadata for films TV shows etc. I haven't tried Plex, so for FrontRow on my iMac and streaming to my 2 AppleTVs I am quite obsessed with MetaX/Subler tagging of my media .... I would love to do this all automatically but don't want US metadata :confused:
  8. JBaughb macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    Plex has a steep learning curve. I tried it for a few hours one day many months ago and abandoned it...but eventually picked it up again and after a couple more hours of reading and research realized how easy it was to use. Once you get how it all works its really quite easy. Maintenance takes almost literally no time at all and adding new files and having them scrape all relevant information into your library is crazy easy. Much easier than itunes. Here are some screenshots of my setup as was requested above.

    Main menu.

    Movie section (info that is obtained automatically with near 100% accuracy - Title, Description, Poster, Actors, Directors, Studio, Rating, Run Time). Searching for all movies that you own by one actor, director, or studio is a breeze and a lot of fun.

    Paused Movie screen (plus ability to select audio track (5.1, stereo, director commentary) or subtitles on/off)

    TV Section (gets all show information, including artwork, episode info, rating, and air date)

    Connects to itunes to get music and podcast information (my podcasts are set to auto download in itunes in the background and plex auto inserts them into my library)

    Who can forget the plugins for Hulu, Netflix, Apple Movie Trailers, Colbert Report, and The Daily Show (so I can watch full episodes every night without having to download them individually or open up an ugly web browser).

    I highly suggest anyone looking for an HTPC front end try Plex. It looks fantastic and is so easy that literally anyone from my girlfriend or my grandmother and even my 6 year old little brother can use it. The work required to add new episodes or movies is insignificant (rename them to a format that plex likes and drop them in the correct folder...plex takes care of the rest).

    The Plex community is very active, developers are super helpful and support is great...even for Snow Leopard. I have over 2,000 tv episodes in around 20 different shows. About 400 movies scraped into there too...most of them are complete Video_ts rips. For the rare movie that plex has trouble playing there is even a direct link in Plex to launch Frontrow and all the same remote control commands work so I don't have to grab out the keyboard and mouse.

    Hope this helps. Sorry for the large pics.
  9. Revels macrumors member

    Sep 27, 2008
    ^^That looks top notch. Better than mine. I'm just running the standard skin.

    I love Plex. It can be a little difficult to start with but I'm quite organised with all my files anyway. So Plex understood them all without me having to rename them. It does miss the occasional film, even the more modern ones and I can't seem to get it to fix that, but other than that, no complaints at all.
  10. blacka4 macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2009
    this is going to sound stupid but plex is freeware right?? Also am I able to rip the entire video with all the extras and not have to rip just the movie
  11. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    Sorry to hijack this thread but I have a plex/iTunes question relating to source info/file naming. I understand that Plex requires a specific naming format in order for the scapers to pull accurate movie/TV info. Unfortunately, I had already ripped/encoded a couple hundred movies and tagged them using MetaX for use with a couple :apple:TVs before setting up my mac mini HTPC.

    Is there an easier way to rename the files without hosing up my iTunes library and having to rebuild it/redirect each video? I keep my video media on an external HDD separate from the iTunes media folder and have MetaX send the newly tagged file to iTunes if that makes a difference.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
  12. JBaughb macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2008
    plex is freeware. I would pay for it if they charged...its thats important to me. You can rip either just the movie or the full dvd image (thats what i do). Either way you'll need a separate program to do that. I use mactheripper.

    as far as renaming. you'll probably have to go though your files and rename them individually. It shouldn't take long. the naming structure is pretty basic.
    Just name the files the name of the movie

    The Dark Knight
    21 Days Later

    or preferably go though and put the year of release at the end of the file.
    The Watchmen (2008)

    you'll have less problems with scraping that way.

    you will have to redo your itunes library though if you want them in both. Since you have all your meta tags set up it shouldnt be much trouble to delete them from itunes and add again.
  13. Scooterpig macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    Please forgive my ignorance but is Plex able to be added to the ATV or is just for OS X?
  14. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    Plex vs Front Row is not really a fair fight. Front Row is a very basic media player, Plex is a near fully featured one that's far more powerful and customizable.
  15. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008

    Ok this seems to get repeated. Takes a while to figure out and then once its FIGURED OUT its reall a snap. Is it that the documentation is all over the place so its difficult to setup and figure it out easily? What I am getting at is if there is an easy way to implement based on what you and others have gone through or does everyone need to go through this painstaking process to get it to work and understand the process? I am interested in getting a mac mini and setting up plex but want to go about this the best way.
  16. WeegieMac Guest


    Jan 29, 2008
    Glasgow, UK
    I use Plex and am constantly customising my set up with new DVD covers and backgrounds, either from online sources or using my own files sourced online and stored on my Mac.

    I'll put some screenshots up later, but the whole Apple Remote conflict between Front Row and Plex has been solved for me by buying Snatch from the App Store for £2.39 and installing the custom Plex remote on my iPhone.

    Absolutely fantastic, and again I'll post screens later since I'm at work right now.
  17. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    It's really not that difficult. Is it drag and drop, out of the box simple? No. Put your video in a folder, add the folder as a source, scan for new content and you are done. Plex has a lot of documentation on their site, but they have videos within the application under the Help menu that spell it out very obviously. It took me about 30 minutes of playing around with it to understand it.

    There was a new driver for the remote that fixed things, and it looks like there is no longer any need for the driver on 10.6.2.
  18. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Apple TV.. it's a shame that Front Row hasn't been updated to the new Apple TV GUI or an application that works on Leopard/Snow Leopard that mimics the Apple TV.

    While Plex looks awesome, I find it a bit overloaded with eye candy.
  19. eleven59 macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2008
    i believe it is only built on Leopard and Atv uses a stripped Tiger? build. They have no plans of doing that.. would be sweet if it could run on Atv... i know some will say just use XBMC/boxee, but sorry, plex plays more files!! never had a problem playing straight mkv or .ts files on plex!!!
  20. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    You would if it were on an AppleTV...
  21. eleven59 macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2008
    DOH! Well plex still rocks... On the comp.

    On atv, that's were caveman's guide and HB comes in handy!
  22. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    My apologies for wasting everyone's time. I wend ahead and renamed all of my video files (and even relocated a few) and turns out iTunes kept right along and maintained all of the links. I've had problems when I've renamed/moved music in the past and assumed the same would happen with my video files. Must be the keep library organized option in iTunes that helped maintain the links.
  23. boston04and07 macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2008
    Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks so! I agree, it looks amazing, but it's just too much for me personally. I really like the (old-fashioned?) idea of tagging all your videos in iTunes and having them be primarily accessible that way, and using Front Row just as the simple, light media browser that it is. After years of encoding and tagging files, it's become somewhat of a hobby, and I just don't want to give that up in favor of Plex's scraping. I don't need any online video content in there, either - I have Hulu Desktop for that. For live TV there's EyeTV, and for switching back and forth between the applications, I've got Rowmote Pro. This setup works like a charm for me, and I really am just far too lazy to restructure my entire media setup for the benefits of Plex's awesome interface. To each his/her own, though! I totally envy your awesome setups :) But for now, I really like Front Row and it suits my needs well!

    If Plex ever allows us to use our own tagging methods, instead of scraping, I might switch then...
  24. Idgit macrumors 6502


    Mar 14, 2004
    Plex is okay, but it misses new files frequently and requires repeated forced library updates to see new files.

    I use the Sapphire Browser plugin with Front Row. It's genius and really adds a lot to Front Row. No need to add your files to iTunes. Sapphire finds them and adds them automatically. It's easy to configure (much easier than Plex) and adding cover art is a cinch.

    And lots of screenshots here.
  25. slu macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2004
    I think it all depends on your uses. I prefer Plex because of the integration with online video sites. I don't watch things more than once so collecting and tagging movies and tv shows doesn't concern me. I also don't download any video via torrents. If you don't do any of that, then Plex is dead easy to setup.

    So my vote is for Plex for online video integration only. If Front Row had that, I wouldn't need Plex at all.

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