Updated May 2021
Most serious streamers have heard of Plex. But for newbies, Plex is a freemium media server application that allows you to centralize all of your content and stream it on any of your devices.
While the (almost) free version of Plex is a fantastic application, a premium Plex Pass is highly affordable and offers amazing features that can supercharge your media center.
So, let’s take a look at the benefits you get with Plex Pass so you can decide whether the premium upgrade makes sense for you.
What Is Plex?
Plex is a fantastic tool if you have lots of your own media content that you want to organize and stream to your devices, just like you would stream content from services such as Netflix.
Basically, all you need to do is put all of the media you want to access in a folder somewhere on your computer, and then point Plex at that folder and it does the rest. Install the app on any of your devices, from your smartphone to your Android TV box, and you can stream the content effortlessly.
While there are actually a lot of applications out there that let you do this, Plex stands out in that, rather than leaving your scrolling through complicated file names, it uses smart technology to organize your content, pulling in information from places like IMDB, so it also feels like you are browsing Netflix.
As well as being able to access your own content, with the (almost) free version of Plex, you get an ad-supported streaming service with premium movies and TV series, and you can also hook up an HD TV antenna and tuner to watch over-the-air channels.
I keep saying “almost free” since you actually have to make a one-off payment of $5 per device to activate the Plex app for streaming.
What Is A Plex Pass?
Plex Pass is the premium version of Plex that comes with lots of additional features, which streamers will value.
It is also pretty good value in comparison to the free version of Plex. With the free version, you need to pay $5 per device that you want to use the application on.
So, if you install it on your TV box, tablet, and two smartphones, you have already spent $20.
When you subscribe to Plex Pass, you can activate Plex on as many devices as you want for no additional cost.
Plans currently cost $5 per month, $40 per year, or $120 for a lifetime pass.
But as well as covering all of your devices for a single free, Plex Pass also unlocks a lot of additional features and benefits.
Plex Pass Features And Benefits
Ad-Free Plex Streaming
First off, Plex Pass will remove the annoying advertising from Plex’s streaming service. It includes a pretty good selection of movies, including a lot of indie classics that haven’t made their way onto Netflix or Prime Video.
In terms of TV shows, you can watch the popular Christina Ricci show Pan Am, the short-lived Charlie’s Angels reboot, Snatch, the series based on the popular Guy Ritchie film, Mad About You, War of the Worlds, and much more.
Also, with Plex Pass you get the feature to automatically skip the intro when binge-watching a series. This may seem like a small thing, but when you have sat through the opening credits of your favorite show for the 5th time, you’ll remember why this is an important feature.
Live TV And DVR
Want to include live TV in the media center that you set up with Plex? No problem, all you need is an HD antenna.
Not only can you browse live TV using Plex’s intuitive interface, but Plex also provides DVR functionality, so you can record episodes of your favorite shows or that game you don’t want to miss and watch later.
The channels you get will depend on where you live and how good your antenna is. If you’ve cut the cable cord but still miss live TV and DVR functionality, then this could be great news.
Mobile sync lets you queue content you can watch offline. You’re probably not going to use this very often, but this is still a cool feature.
Got a flight ahead of you and don’t want to watch the terrible movie selection on the plane or pay for the Wi-Fi? Sync up your own content ready to watch offline while in the air.
Multiple Users And Parental Controls
Plex Pass is great if you want to connect everyone in the family to the same media server. You don’t have to pay for everyone’s mobile phone or computer individually.
Plex Pass also includes the ability to set up individual Plex users – each with their own versions of your media library. Want to create a user that just has access to your G-rated content? Now, you can.
This feature isn’t just great for kids, you can also use it for users with different entertainment tastes. Are you a fan of romantic comedies, while your partner is into Sci-Fi horror? You can categorize films and include or exclude portions of the library as you wish. No more scrolling through Colin Firth images to find your Alien collection.
While you are probably using music streaming services such as Pandora or Spotify, what about all the digital music that you have collected over the years? It probably has the same problem as your movie collection: too many unorganized file names to scroll through (only worse).
But Plex can do the same for your music collection and your film collections. Again, Plex scrapes the internet to enhance your collection with lyrics, album art, artist bios, and more.
If you like to create your own playlists, Plex can help with features like Plex Mix and mood mixes.
Just like with movies, you can also sync up your favorite tunes to play on your device when you are offline.
Cloud Media Sync
Cloud Sync lets you upload selected content to a cloud storage provider like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. You’ll need a subscription with the service you want to use.
However, online storage is so cheap nowadays; this is an easy way to have access to your media even if your home network is offline.
Trailers And Extras
If you’re like me, you love trailers. For example, when the new Star Wars trailer dropped, it became a big social event for me and my friends.
You can set up Plex to play trailers before you watch your movie just like if you were at the theater. You’ll also get access to any extra features like interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, and deleted scenes that normally come on the DVD version of your movie.
Plex Pass Perks
You need some extra stuff to make the most out of Plex.
Plex Pass Perks takes a little of the sting out of it with some pretty nice discounts on the stuff you’ll need (or want).
The discounts change over time, but you’ll find things like Mohu antennas, Drobo and Western Digital storage solutions, and HDHomeRun media extenders.
Early Access To New Stuff
Plex is constantly improving. New features like Live TV and DVR roll out to Plex Pass subscribers first. Think of it like getting early access to the next generation of the Plex Media Server.
FAQs About Plex
How Much Is A Plex Pass?
Currently, Plex Pass costs $5 per month, $40 per year, and $120 for a lifetime subscription. This covers as many devices as you need.
If you go for standard Plex, you pay a one-off fee of almost $5 per device. But Plex Plus also comes with additional functionality that is unavailable with standard Plex.
Why Do I Need A Plex Pass?
If you are going to use Plex Pass as your main media center, there are a variety of
reasons you need Plex Pass. Some of the best functionality you get with Plex Plus is that it allows you to stream live TV with an HD antenna and provides DVR functionality so you can record live TV to watch later.
You can also download content to watch offline later, which can be useful while you are traveling. It also introduces accounts and parental controls, which are essential if you have multiple family members accessing the media library.
Is Plex Illegal?
Plex is entirely legal, as it is simply software that allows you to set up your own media server. But, of course, that software can be used in a way that is illegal. For example, it is not uncommon for users to set up servers that allow other users to access pirated content. This is still illegal, regardless of whether you are playing a Plex subscription or not.
Is Plex Better Than Netflix?
It is not really possible to compare Netflix and Plex, because they just aren’t the same thing. Plex is a way to organize your own media library, while Netflix is a streaming service that offers you access to their content. While they are both used for watching, they offer entirely different services.
In fact, if you have a Netflix account, you can also get a Netflix plugin for Plex. Then you can search Netflix along with your other media sources in Plex when looking for something to watch.
How Do I Watch Free Movies On Plex?
At the end of 2019, Plex launched a streaming library of movies and television shows. It is free to all Plex users, but it is ad-supported, so expect your viewing pleasure to be disrupted occasionally.
You can also download a variety of other plugins that allow you to access movies and television shows, some of which are free and some of which are paid for. For example, you can watch old films on the Internet Archive or subscribe to USTVNow for some of the major channels.
It is also possible for individuals to share content between their movie servers. There are some users that fill their servers with the latest movies and allow other users to access them (again, free or paid for). But this activity is often illegal.
Is There A Better Alternative To Plex?
There are many free alternatives to Plex; the most popular of which is Kodi. It similarly allows you to organize your media library and stream it to any of your devices. Other alternatives include Mezzmo, MediaPortal, Stremio, and Universal Media Server.
Do I Need A VPN For Plex?
You do not need a VPN to use Plex, and it is unnecessary if you are streaming your own content to your own device on your own home network. However, if you are streaming from other sources, especially sources that are geofenced or contain copyrighted content, it is advisable to use a VPN.
Does Plex Share Your Data?
Plex does not collect or store personal data. It may anonymously send files names and other identifiers linked with your personal content to the Plex servers to customize your experience, improve search, and so forth. But you can disable this capability if you want.
Is Plex Pass Worth It?
Whether Plex Pass is worth it for you, depends on what you want to use it for.
If you are just looking for a convenient way to stream your own content to a handful of devices, for example, two smartphones and a TV Box, then the one-off $5 payment for each device may be all you need.
But, are you looking to stream your content across multiple devices? Stopping halfway through a movie on your TV box and then want to pick up exactly where you left off on your smartphone?
Do you want to be able to watch and record live TV?
Do you want to get discounts on premium streaming content?
Do you want to set up accounts for every user in the household, some with parental controls?
For all of this, you will need Plex Pass.
Plex Pass will only cost you $40 a year, which is the equivalent cost of eight devices. It is not difficult for a normal household to have that number of devices when everyone has their own smartphone, computer, tablet, and TV box.
Considering all the extras you get with Plex Pass, this additional expense suddenly seems to come with a lot of value.
To get the greatest value out of Plex, you need Plex Pass. You can sign up for Plex Pass by heading over to Plex.tv.
What do you think? Do you have a Plex Pass? Let us know in the comments below!