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Plex Does Away With Dedicated Server Requirement for NVIDIA Shield Users

Using the popular media center app Plex just got a lot easier — if you own an NVIDIA Shield Android TV streaming box, that is: The latest version of Plex’s Android TV app does away with the need to run dedicated server software on a computer when combined with an NVIDIA Shield.

Owners of NVIDIA’s device, which doubles as a lightweight game console, can simply store their media on the Shield’s internal hard drive, or attach an external USB drive, and then play media directly on their TV or stream it to mobile devices or other smart TVs or connected devices.

Plex has long been popular with tech-savvy consumers with large local media collections. The media app is available on virtually any mobile device as well as most game consoles and many smart TVs and streaming boxes. However, Plex has historically required users to also run a media server on their computer or network-attached storage device to optimize streams on the fly.

The NVIDIA Shield is so powerful that it can run both the server software and a playback engine for 4K videos at the same time. That’s a significant step forward for Plex, even if the number of Nvidia Shield owners who can take advantage of this are likely limited.

But the fact that Plex could turn the Shield into a streaming server that can send audio and video on demand to your phone or tablet suggests that the startup may be able to extend this kind of technology to additional devices in the future. “We’ll continue to evaluate other platforms,” the Plex team said in a blog post Thursday.

Plex’s usage of the NVIDIA Shield as a home media server also goes to show that there is still some demand for processor-intensive computing in the living room. Tech companies have long pushed to outsource much of this computing into the cloud. The best example for this is Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter, which uses cheap hardware to simply play cloud-based media.

But Plex’s success has shown that the cloud isn’t always the best solution for personal media — and increasingly powerful chipsets in TVs and streaming devices could make it possible to give consumers cloud-like features without the need to turn on a computer at all.

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