What Is Plex Pass? The Plex Subscription Explained

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With all the talk of online streaming you may have heard of Plex Pass. This is especially true if you have been thinking of cutting the cord with Plex live TV.

If you are still unsure of what a Plex Pass is, then hopefully this article will help explain a few things including the difference between a free and paid Plex experience, as well as the different pricing options for those choosing to buy a Plex Pass subscription.

First off, it's important to understand what Plex is.

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What is Plex?

In the most basic sense, Plex is simply a media player that lets you watch videos, listen to music or look at photos.

It is available in app form and can be downloaded on multiple different platforms and devices. For example, Android device owners can download the Plex Android app from the Google Play Store on a smartphone, tablet or even their Android TV set-top box or TVs that are powered by Android TV.

Plex can also be accessed via the service's web portal and supports cross-platform access. Basically, Plex is a media player you can access by most connected devices with a screen.

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Plex in itself does not cost anything to download so anyone can start using the app now as an alternatively media player to whatever solutions are installed on their device by default.

However, that's only a full definition if you view Plex solely as an app and this is where Plex as a media server comes in.

What's Plex Media Server?

Like many things these days, Plex is also a network-based service. A Plex Media Server is different to the apps as it is more of a central hub that can be connected to by those apps. For example, you can't set up a Plex Media Server on your smartphone but you can access one from your smartphone.

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Setting up a Plex Media Server typically requires a PC or a device like the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and once the server is set up the user can not only access the server from the various apps, but also any contents stored on the server.

In other words, a user can allocate a music or video folder on their PC to the server and then access the contents of those folders on their smartphone, wherever they are.

Plex Pass is slightly different as it looks to offer a more premium Plex and Plex Media Server experience.

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Plex Pass opens the Plex doors wider

As mentioned, you don't need to buy a Plex Pass to use Plex or even a Plex Media Server, however, doing so opens the doors to more features and a richer experience overall.

Not only can you set up a Plex Media Server without a Plex Pass, but you can also access content on that server without the subscription. However, the Plex Pass looks to improve the situation by allowing users to download content from the server onto another device remotely for offline viewing. For example, if you are away from home, you'll still be able to connect to the server and download music and videos so they can be listened/watched even when there's no internet connection.

Another popular Plex feature is the ability to share the server access with others. Again, a Plex Pass is not necessarily needed to do this, but using one gives the account owner greater control over all of the different access points and users. Something that might be especially useful to parents in busy households. This includes better managing of individual accounts and more detailed information about the usage of each account connected to the server.

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There are other benefits as well and especially when it comes to the way a user interacts with music, video and images through Plex. Again, most of these aspects do not require the Pass, but the Pass enriches the experience through various ways, such as improved metadata, generated playlists, auto-tagging, cinema trailers, and more.

Watch and record live TV

What is arguably the most beneficial perk of a Plex Pass is the access to Plex's most advanced features, including live TV.

With a Plex Pass and a Plex Media Server set up, and when combined with an antenna and a DVR tuner, Plex users are able to tune in to over-the-air channels and even record them for playback later.

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Likewise, this feature can be coupled with the other Plex features to provide an even better experience. For example, as Plex lets you access content when away from home, this will also include live TV for Plex Pass subscribers. Those users are able to watch movies and shows recorded from a live TV feed, as well as tuning into live TV, on any mobile device that's connected to the internet.

This also includes the mobile sync feature so users are able to download live TV recordings and watch them offline when there's no internet connection.

How much does a Plex Pass subscription cost?

There's three main options to get started with Plex Pass.

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The first is the monthly plan. This one works like most subscriptions where you pay and renew on a monthly basis. In this case the price comes in at $4.99 per month. The benefit of this option is you are free to cancel at any time so if you feel the service is not right for you after the first month then you've only spent $5 to find that out.

The second option is the annual plan. This one works along the same lines as the monthly option with users able to renew each year. The cost when subscribing annually is $39.99 and this represents a saving of $20 per year when compared to twelve months subscribed via the monthly plan.

The last option is the lifetime plan. This is definitely the best option for those who know this is the right service for them as the lifetime plan costs $119.99 and that's it. There's no need to renew at any time as it is just complete access to Plex Pass on a permanent basis.

This also includes any new features that are added to Plex Pass in the future. Therefore, unlike some products that sell you this year's version, the lifetime plan will receive all the same features and upgrades those on a monthly or annual subscription will get.

Is a Plex Pass subscription right for you?

One of the simplest ways to understand the difference is how much you want Plex to do for you. For example, if you simply just want to use Plex to consume content you already own, then chances are you do not need a Plex Pass subscription. You don't need a Plex Pass to access your own content or even to stream it when away from home. In addition, you do gain access to some content that's not yours without a subscription – like web shows and podcasts.

However, if you want Plex to help out more with added background and metadata for music, or improvements to the sound quality, or to provide you with trailers and other extra content for movies, or to automatically upload camera roll images and tag them for you, then a Plex Pass subscription will prove worthwhile.

If you are looking to cut the cord and want a better way to interact with over-the-air channels, then a Plex Pass subscription is a must-have.

More info: Plex Pass

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Editor-in-Chief

John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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