My mother in law has a fairly large collection of movies and a number of TV Series which she stores on an external hard drive on her iMac in her ‘study’ room. She then has two Samsung Smart TVs which I had previously hooked up to the network (since they can access the Internet and run things like Skype and so on) using a bunch of HomePlug AV2 adaptors.
Originally I was using DLNA via Serviio to stream her movies and TV Series (as well as photos and some iTunes music) to the Smart TVs and this sort of worked, mostly. But it wasn’t overly reliable – the first problem I encountered initially was that the FAT filesystem only supports files up to 4G so some of the converted movies (which she ripped using MacXDVD Ripper Pro) were truncated. Of course we only discovered that once we were three quarters of the way through the movie!
But DLNA doesn’t offer the additional information about the movie, such as Synopsis, Year, Actor Profiles etc that something like XBMC or Plex offers, as well as the fancy background poster/fan art etc. I also found Servio wasn’t showing all the movies properly for some reason and I couldn’t track down why.
Which was why I decided to look into Plex, since it supports a DLNA server as well. Setting up Plex on the iMac was ridiculously easy – all configured through a nice looking web interface. Set up the paths to movies and tv shows and Plex nips off to the internet to look up all the extra metadata that you like. Which is all well and good if you’re playing the movies or TV Shows on your actual Mac. But of course, mother-in-law isn’t – she’s watching it on one of her Smart TVs.
And then I discovered the free Plex app available for Samsung Smart TVs, which I installed for her and haven’t looked back. The interface is sleek, and very similar to the normal Plex web and media center interface which is very easy to navigate.
Initially I had everything setup over the wireless network but I discovered that even though it was a wireless N network, it simply couldn’t cope with the streaming. The Homeplug AV2 system works a treat – no video dropouts and her iPad still works nicely because the 2 networks are essentially separate.
If you’re looking for a way to serve your media files (movies and TV Shows) from a Mac (or Windows or Linux) server to your Samsung SmartTV then you really can’t go past Plex. Especially since both the server and the client are free.