Plex Media Server + Android App review on SYNET7LP

Discussion in 'Sylvania Tablets' started by mvancil, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. mvancil

    mvancil Member

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    I tend to try out many different media servers and apps, so I thought it might be helpful to others and share my experience with some of the ones I test out.

    Recently I purchased the iPad app for Plex Media Server, and after seeing how great it performed, I decided to try it out on my Sylvania tablet.

    The startup:

    Getting the app loaded was a cinch. No hiccups or issues.

    Getting it loaded on the media server. Kind of a small hassle. If I were to rate it from 1 to 10 with 10 being the biggest hairpulling hassle I could imagine. I would rate this app at a 4.

    For starters, the first hurdle I encountered was that I could not add my media folders in via it's web interface (the only interface where you can do this operation). After a bit of searching around, I found that there is an environment variable in Windows 7 called "PYTHONPATH" which points to the open source libraries for Python. This media server uses it's own internal libraries to interface with the database. The simple fix was to remove this variable. Once I did that, the server began to accept the new folders into the database.

    I believe that removing this variable has affected some items on my system, but so far....nothing I can really point to. I'll keep you updated.

    Once I overcame that hurdle, I did a complete import of my media. This took roughly 6 hours. I have roughly 2TB of media, so this is not too over the top, considering what the import included.

    What the import included was a complete download of all the metadata for my videos. It would look at the folder names and conclude what series or movie was contained therein, and it would examine the contents of the folder to determine what episode number each file was. Using this information, it compiled an interface much like Netflix, with ratings stars, thumbnail images, series description and when you opened each series there was a detailed description with each episode.

    Very professional looking and very well done.

    I did have one issue though....there was a lot that somehow did not get imported. In one series, almost 100 episodes were not loading. I attempted to restructure the folders, and rename the episodes to make them easier to find the metadata. This had no effect, and I spent a lot of hours doing this and then scanning the folders.

    In the end, I found the quickest easiest way to address this, was to disable a lot of the awesome features by importing them as a home video collection as opposed to a movie or TV show. This means I would have no star ratings, no descriptions and the thumbnails were generated from the video itself.

    To me, this is just fine. All I want is a good dynamic streaming server, the rest is just fluff.

    Now....on to the app.

    On the iPad, all of the default settings work perfect and as advertised. Mostly due to the iPad's great processor. The Sylvania tablet is a horse of a different color. It's not so awesome on streaming video. Often, it's downright *****y.

    Well, on all the default settings, I got what I expected. Something that works but stutters heavily. So I dug down into the settings for the app, and discovered that you can set the bitrate from the client. So, I dropped the bitrate down to the smallest setting and tried it again.

    It played the whole way through several episodes. I had an occasional stutter, but when I noticed I was using the wrong access point in the house, and connected to the closer one, this stutter went away. At the lowest bitrate I did notice some quality loss, but not so much that it was unplayable. It was still very watchable.

    So then I started tooling around with the plug-ins on the server.

    These plug-ins are AWESOME.

    I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail, but one item you WILL definitely be interested in is the Netflix plug-in. It's exactly what you think it is. Using this media server, I can connect to Netflix on my SYNET7LP and lookup movies or TV shows and play them on the tablet without issue. This has been my #1 complaint about this tablet since day one (the fact that Netflix would not work on it).

    So, in summation, it's a great app and sever combo. Not for the non-techie, but a few committed users could probably stumble through ok. It brings value back to the tablet by allowing the services we wanted to run on it, in a second-hand sort of way.

    Thats ok though....for me...it just has to work.
     
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  2. mvancil

    mvancil Member

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    Ok, just a followup here.

    I put the server through the paces and even loaded up the music library as well. It is performing excellently. As far as my initial worry about removing the PYTHONPATH variable from Windows, I have noticed one effect. Under the programs menu, there was a list of about 20 apps, mostly pre-installed stuff I never used. Also among those apps was Synergy+. When I removed the variable, those links disappeared. So I presume they are loaded from a python database. I noticed this when I went to launch Synergy.

    These links were not listed under a sub-folder, they were by themselves at the very top. The apps they linked too were still installed, so all I had to do was recreate the link.

    So....I was correct that there was some effect, but it's not a major one, so no big deal (for me, anyway).
     
  3. mvancil

    mvancil Member

    Joined:
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