The third good use one could put the Pi to, and use it thoroughly is as a Media Server. And that’s where Plex comes into the picture! I know, it’s nothing new — since probably the inception of RPi, there have been numerous such apps and OSs which have done the same — XBMC ports, Kodi, and likewise. But I have had mixed experiences with them — beyond the initial “aha!”, the experience wasn’t what one could “delightful!” in the long run. I think the biggest hassle for me was loading the media, to start with. This was followed by other aspects, like account management, supported formats (or the lack of it), and what not.
However, Plex seems to have upped the game several notches. Or maybe the people at Plex know how to impress this Netflix-addicted population — the ones who would want to be stream on any. device, support both app and browser based streaming, continue from where they left off, be able to load media directly, share their (in-house) media server with their friends/family, be able to restrict content per account, etc. (I am sure you see what I did there.)
Again, I will abstain from listing down the installation steps for Plex — there are numerous websites that have those.
Loading the media just requires following a specific and simple directory format. A spare hard disk which could auto-mount could be attached to the RPi for it. Of course, the advantage of using portable media is that one could attach it to any other media source, and directly modify the media to be made available via Plex. Or, for the geeky ones — a cron job could be written to rsync the media over ssh to this Pi.
There is however, restrictions on the “Free lunch”. If one wants to use the Plex client app, one would have to pay a nominal fee. This, of course, enables a host of features not available otherwise.
The “Free” option, of course, is the browser based client, which can do everything that the app can do, albeit at a slightly less of a convenience. I am not complaining, though. 😉