Plex – A Fantastic Media Server

August 25, 2012

I’ve come across a cool free media server called Plex which manages and facilitates streaming my video files and music files to my connected devices. I remember looking at Plex a few years ago and didn’t think too much of it, but the version they have now is fantastic. Here’s some of it’s features:

  • Can automatically identify your videos by titles and will pull down poster art and episode/movie descriptions automatically from common database servers
  • Has many grouping options such as “Watched”, “On Deck”, etc.
  • Has the ability to stream video and music across a network (either internal LAN or external WAN) from your home PC, at different transmission speeds.
  • Will transcode videos on-the-fly when necessary based on the network connection speed to the client app.
  • Very easy to use interface on the server and client
  • Client apps available for Android, iOS, and PC devices
  • Media Server program available for Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux systems

I normally take my recorded TV shows (from EyeTV) which are stored on my iMac system and stream them to my Acer A500 Iconia Android Tablet or Google Nexus 7 Tablet in my house. I have been using the streaming capability of the ES Explorer Android app (which simply plays a selected video using its video player), but the Plex system is much more robust. It seems to work great, and what’s even more cool is that I can stream transcoded video to my Android Smartphone or Tablet while on travel from my home iMac even on a slower network connection. Pretty cool stuff. In addition, the Server Interface on my iMac looks great. Read the rest of this entry »

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Google Nexus 7 Tablet Mini-Review

July 15, 2012

Currently, I have a the following Android tablets which I use for my app development testing as well as personal use:

  • Acer Iconia A500 (10″) Tablet – This was my first tablet device which I purchase about a year ago for $300 US (which was discounted by $100 at Staples during a promotion). I still use this tablet almost daily at home for reading news and web browsing while eating breakfast, and also for watching Netflix movies on the couch. The battery life is great. I’ve also rooted it and installed a custom Honeycomb OS ROM to have a better performing tablet.
  • Kindle Fire (7″) Tablet – Toting around my 10″ Acer tablet can be a bit cumbersome, so instead I decided to get the 7″ Kindle Fire when it was first released late last year. The hardware is solid, and at that time you couldn’t beat the $199 US price. Amazon sold these devices at a loss so they could use it as a delivery system for customers to purchase their other online services (e.g., apps, books, movies, music, etc). I’ve used this tablet on a daily basis also, taking it with me to coffee shops and restaurants, as well as being my companion on business trips. I use it for listening to Pandora (on WiFi), web browsing, and also accessing my Mac home computer via a VNC connection. Since the Kindle Fire has a limited and restricted version of the Android OS, I decided to root it and install a custom Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS ROM to modernize it. It does work better, but as with all custom ROMs it does have it’s quirks (e.g., the battery charging light doesn’t work nor does the OS report accurate battery power levels).
  • Blackberry Playbook (7″) Tablet – I was given this tablet through a developer’s program with RIM. It’s physically almost identical to the Kindle Fire, but it runs a proprietary Android OS developed by Blackberry, and you can only install apps from the Blackberry app store (even though they are standard Android apps). I played around with this tablet for about 30 minutes, then promptly put it back in the box and stored it on my office shelf. I don’t have plans to use it for development work (since RIM is about to go out of business), and will probably sell it on eBay.

So, I use my Acer 10″ tablet for a lot of home use, and the 7″ Kindle Fire tablet when I leave the house. When I heard about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet’s specs and price, it was a no brainer to try to get one for my own personal use. It had the latest hardware technology (hi-res screen, quad-core Tegra processor, front camera, microphone) and the latest Google OS (newly introduced Jelly Bean). And selling at $199 for the 8 GB model (same storage as Kindle Fire) or $249 for the 16 GB model, it was a great deal. Fortunately, I was able to trade in my Apple iPod Touch 64 GB device at the Gamestop store and get enough credit to fully cover the cost of the Nexus 7 (see previous posting). Read the rest of this entry »


Got my Nexus 7 Tablet Early!

July 15, 2012

I had pre-ordered my Google Android Nexus 7 Tablet a week ago from my local Gamestop store, and was told I would be in the “2nd wave” of releases with an estimated date of August 7th. But, fortunately one week later I get a text message saying my N7 is ready to be picked up at the store. If you check the Android Central Forums, you’ll see that there’s a firestorm of angry nerds who pre-ordered their N7’s through the online Google Play Store when the N7 was first announced at the Google I/O Conference. They are up-in-arms over the fact that they didn’t get their N7’s in their grubby hands before anyone else in the universe. There’s postings about getting Google to pay them back for shipping, or getting some kind of compensation for not being the very first to get an N7.

Strange, that these nerds feel so entitled to being the first to get a N7 device because they pre-ordered from Google. My definition of “pre-order” is that you’ve reserved a device with the seller to make sure you get one in case they run completely out. It doesn’t mean you’ll be the very first to get one (especially considering Google never said you would). Google gave a “2-3 weeks” delivery time, but these angry nerds who feel a sense of entitlement just simply ignore that delivery time, being upset that stores like Gamestop, Staples, Walmart, etc. are selling N7’s to customers with and without pre-ordering.

Well, I just have to say get over it. It’s just a piece of hardware, and not the end of the world if you have to wait a few days to get it. People are just so impatient these days, expecting instant gratification. If you really need an N7 now, just buy one at one of these local stores and refuse delivery of your Google purchased N7 when it arrives. End of story.