Thursday, 9 January 2014

Jolla streaming video with Plex media server

Jolla as a remote for Samsung Blueray player
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1. Overview

Plex media server works perfectly on Jolla Smartphone. Here's a review to streaming media from computer to Jolla's screen, use Jolla as a remote control, and use another phone as a remote control for Jolla's Plex player. Everything introduced in this article have been fully tested to work. Installing guide is not included. In this review we:
  • stream videos from Plex media server to Jolla smartphone over WiFi
  • check  if Jolla works as a media server, sending content to other players in the same network
  • use Jolla as a remote control for a Samsung Blueray player
  • use Jolla as a Plex Player and another phone as aa remote control for Jolla

2. Plex supported devices

Plex software includes a backend media server (Propiertary sSoftware) and a frontend media player (OpenSource, based on XBMC player). Plex software (before version 1.0) can be installed for free on
  • Windows (XP with Service Pack 3 or later)
  • Mac (OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later)
  • Linux (Ubuntu 10.04->, Fedora 14->, CentOS 6->)
  • FreeBSD 9.1
  • NAS (Synology, Netgear, QNAP, unRAID, Drobo, Asustor). With some limitations.
  • Mobile devices: Android (inc. Jolla), iOs, Windows Phone 8
  • TV's & Blueray players (Roku, Google TV, Samsung)
  • Chromecast supporting devices (this is not free. Requires Plex Pass)
From November 2013 Plex introduced version 1.0: Plex Home Theater. Latest version is available for computers running on Windows (Vista or later) and Mac (Snow Leopard or later).

3. Plex on Jolla

Version 0.9.8 works on Jolla, via Android Support, both as a player (no Plex Pass or account required) and as a media server (to use, account and paid Plex Pass required). Without Plex Pass Jolla is capable to play any streaming media supported by the device (e.g. H.264 video format). Media server can transcode most video streams, audio streams and subtitles to supported formats in desired quality. Plex Media Server including the media must locate on the same network with Jolla (e.g. same WLAN)

4. Plex player on Jolla - Photo Review

Plex on Jolla. View to the content of the Media Server
In my setup, I have installed Plex Media Server on my Win7 computer and on Jolla Smartphone.
Plex on Jolla. Watching a BBC document in 720p quality
Additionally Plex Player is installed to my Samsung Blueray player (HT-D5500) and a remote control for that is installed to my Jolla. Here's a view to the remote control, each function works great on Jolla:

Even more, I've installed a 3rd party remote control for Plex Player to another smartphone, so I'm able to control my Jolla from that. Maybe this doesn't seem too important, but it was required to fix the player screen size on Jolla:
Screen overscan wizard is located on the Player Settings, and a remote control was required to adjust the screen. Using the touchpad of another smartphone (ZTE) I was able to adjust Jolla's screen for full use with the player. Some other settings on Jolla are shown below:
As you can see on the right image above, it's possible to select Jolla to be advertised as a server. I tested that, of course, and I was actually surprised that the Plex player on my BD was able to connect to the Plex Media Server on my Jolla. So, the server was recognized, but sharing Jolla's files seems to require sync option, and I haven't activated a Plex Pass to be able to use that. After enabling sync it would propably be possible to share files stored in Android environment (as Plex server is running under Android Support on Jolla).

Streaming video quality was absolutely great. I was able to strem 1080p videos over my WLAN network without any lagging. I did it just in testing purpose, streaming with this quality is useless as Jolla's screen resolution (540x960 px) has only a quarter of full HD quality (1080x1920 px)
Plex on Jolla - adjusting stremaing quality while watching the stream
Audio sync and quality were great too. For my first listening test I attached a DENON amplifier and a nice pair of Gradient speakers to Jolla's audio plug. I would have liked to test if Jolla would support any 5.1 audio stream too, but I was missing a suitable media for that. However, the stereo sound was absolutely fantastic.

Subtitles time sync isn't adjustable on Jolla's player, and as subtitle files are also transcoded when needed, it's pretty possible that some subtitles are in sync and some are not. My testing night ended to watching a movie in my bed with a nice pair of light Sennheiser headphones. In that one, subtitles were in sync too.

After watcing an 1h 30min movie, my Jolla had 25% less battery charge (screen brigtness at half). No lagging, no problems - everything seems to work as it should with Plex. I give this my full recommendation.

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