Plex vs DNLA

Discussion in 'Video Streaming Boxes & Services' started by Jon Weaver, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. Jon Weaver

    Jon Weaver
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    I am struggling to understand 'Plex'.. I always believed that Plex was similar but different to DNLA.. But a colleague just informed me that he uses Plex to his PS3 and after a bit of research, it seems that Plex has added 'DNLA' support to the server.

    My assumption was that DNLA just streams the data and the Client converts it using its codec.. Where as Plex does the transcoding on the Server end and just transmits the video using some kind of proprietary protocol (perhaps a bit like VNC).

    So I have a question.. Does this mean that Plex has fully gone to a DNLA solution and dropped their proprietary protocol? Or is DNLA it just an option?

    And the killer question is.. Say you had a Plex Serverd.. And you had the option of watching something via a DNLA Client or a Plex app, which would be better?

    Jon
     
  2. halfelite

    halfelite
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    For easy sake PLEX and DLNA are interchangeable. There is no proprietary protocol its all just http streams. The difference being. PLEX does do transcoding and a DLNA server does not have to transcode.

    Normal basic DLNA client is usually just a file list plex apps usually offer cover art and such with watched filters and a lot more
     
  3. next010

    next010
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    Plex offers a pretty GUI interface, DLNA does not thats the main difference, other than that as halfelite says they are pretty similar in function.

    As Plex can reached via DLNA too some of that cover artwork Plex provides can be seen through DLNA but it's generally not as good, DLNA was designed in mind with text listings and small thumbnail previews. Very few DLNA clients allow changing the view mode.
     
  4. Jon Weaver

    Jon Weaver
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    I probably didn't write my question very well.. I think the point I was trying to make (And perhaps I am misunderstanding this) is that a DNLS Client/Server sends the data, and the Client end does the decoding using its inbuilt codecs.

    Where as with Plex, the data is transcoded to video at the Server end and then transmitted as video date and simply displayed on the client end (a bit like how VNC works).

    So the question I was trying to ask is that since Plex does DNLA and Transcoding, iif you wanted the best quality, would you be better using a Plex or DNLA client?

    Jon
     
  5. next010

    next010
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    With Plex it is a mix of both, the client can decode if it supports the video using what Plex call "direct play", if the Plex client does not support the video then the Plex server transcodes the video. Plex clients tell the Plex server what they can and cannot play.

    With DLNA is it similar in principle but transcoding is not part of the DLNA spec, what DLNA servers do is use profiles to identify clients with limited media support then transcode the content into a compatible format. Without a profile the DLNA server will not transcode the content.

    For DLNA Plex uses profiles same as all other DLNA servers, as to quality depends upon the transcoding settings, some DLNA servers allow you to tinker with the bitrate used but I couldnt say if one is better than the other.
     
  6. NX3

    NX3
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    Plex server with a Plex client is a good setup.

    Plex server to a DLNA device in my experience is a car crash. Each recent update to Plex says it has world class DLNA support, it doesn't, its a mess, it doesn't work properly and you get no answers on the Plex forum free or paid for sections. I've wasted a lot of time on this and will continue to help them as it could be a good product.

    I have two of the same devices on my network, Plex provides all the content on one but on the other identifies it as a different device so limits the contents based on what it can transcode. Unlike a good DLNA server (e.g Serviio) you have no control over what the server decides a device is so can't over write its incorrect settings. Having checked the XML files they borrowed the profile settings for some devices from Serviio (I have no issues with this) so they should work identically. However the identifier engine in Plex is doing something wrong, raised on forums with others and no fix. I did come up with a work around in the profile XML which I submitted to them but no response....

    The other issues IMO is that in transcode for MP4 format, good quality but very cpu intensive. Other DLNA transcoding servers typically use mpeg2 so even lower powered devices can transcode. I don't have an expensive Intel i5 cpu for a NAS and you have no control over the format, its silly.

    Final part of Plex thats not well thought out is linux specific but its odd behaviour to user folders. While other DLNA servers on my server and read / share all folders / files, Plex doesn't and again in the GUI you have little control over it.

    To answer your question, what is your end device ?

    Plex does that hard things well but does the easy 'basic' stuff badly, a pure DLNA server is better at doing DLNA quite simply.

    Saying that if you run it on a Windows device, with no transcoding needed or a powerful CPU or a Plex end user device its going to be good.... but then why not use XMBC of which Plex is based on :)
     

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