Plex launches dedicated version of Plex Media Center for Windows 8 devices

Media server developer Plex Inc. has announced the immediate availability of Plex for Windows 8 1.0, a dedicated media center app giving users of Windows 8 PCs and Windows RT tablets access to their Plex Media Server collections via a full-screen, touch-friendly app.

Plex for Windows 8, like other Plex mobile applications, isn’t free. It launches with a special $2.99 price, likely to rise to $4.99 in line with its other mobile apps. The release is joined by Plex Media Server, a minor maintenance update that primarily resolves issues introduced with the new PlexSync service, which is currently restricted to PlexPass subscription holders only.

Once installed, the user launches Plex for Windows 8 from the Start screen via its tile shortcut. The app will then immediately start searching for locally hosted servers (users can also log in to their MyPlex account in order to access servers over the internet). Once found, it automatically connects and starts displaying content.

Users have a number of ways to browse their library: On Deck provides them with access to content currently being watched, but not yet completed. Library is the traditional method of browsing by media library while Recently Added provides quick and easy access to the latest content added to the server.

One feature shared with the Plex/Web browser client, but currently not implemented in any other mobile version, is support for filters. This option, which appears once the user has selected a specific library, allows content to be both filtered and sorted according to various critera, such as genre, year or date added.

One of the key drawbacks of Plex for Windows 8 in its current state is that it’s optimized largely for touchscreens – while users can navigate with the aid of a mouse or trackpad on a traditional computer, keyboard support is currently non-existent, meaning the app won’t work with remote controls. Luckily, those with Windows 8 computers can install the free Plex Media Center client instead, which runs full-screen from the traditional Windows desktop, supports keyboard/remote control input and is freeware.

Plex for Windows 8 1.0 is available now for PCs running Windows 8 or tablets and smartphones running Windows RT. Other mobile versions – including Android, iPad and Windows Phone 7 – are catered for by Plex 2.3.1, while Windows and Mac desktops should install the freeware Plex Media Center.

Those embracing Plex for the first time should also install Plex Media Server on the computer hosting the media – video, music and pictures – that they wish to share. Note that Plex now supports DLNA, meaning a Plex server can also be accessed on any DLNA-certified streaming device, including many smart TVs and set-top boxes.

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