Plex is probably the best way to stream to your TV, but what if you don't have a PC to use as a back-end server? Thanks to a new NVIDIA Shield update, you can now build the media system of your dreams on the cheap.
We love, love, love Plex. I mean, seriously, how backwards does transferring content to a TV via USB stick seem these days?
If you've always wanted to get hip to the Plexolution but lacked the necessary hardware, today's your lucky day – it's time to join the party.
Review: Plex Media Server
The 4K-ready NVIDIA Shield – a tidy Android set-top box that earned an 8/10 review rating - is getting full Plex Media Server capabilities as part of the imminent SHIELD Experience 3.2 software update.
That means that the NVIDIA Shield box will now not only support the Plex front-end player app, it'll actually be able to function as the Plex server itself.
Why does this matter?
It matters because, previously, the Shield was only capable of serving as intermediary when it came to Plex – it could receive content from another device on behalf of your TV, but not actually locally store or stream that content.
For that, you needed a relatively powerful PC or NAS drive as your back-end – neither of which come of the cheap. And even if you had one, there were energy efficiency concerns, as you need your server to be always on.
With the Shield update, that's now longer the case. Just grab yourself an NVIDIA Shield over on Amazon for £150 (or £190 bundled with the gaming remote) and you're nearly good to go.
Because £150 'only' gets you an 8GB Shield and that's no where near enough on-board storage for the modern media hog. However, as the Shield features two USB 3.0 ports, you can easily hook it up to an external storage device and expand your capacity on the cheap.
By way of example, an ultra-spacious 2TB Samsung M3 is currently available on Amazon for just £63 – a whopping 30% or £27 off.
That gives you four times the storage of the £220 500GB Shield model for roughly the same price.
Or, opt for the more directly comparable 500GB Samsung M3 – we should mention it's super-slimline, so it'll tuck nicely away with your Shield – for a shade over £40, meaning you can enjoy exactly the same Plex setup for under £200.
To our mind, this is the cheapest way you can enjoy a full-fat Plex experience on the cheap – there's no expensive hardware required. In fact, chances are you probably already have a decent sized external hard drive, meaning all you need is a Shield to get streaming.
As well as offering 4K UHD, it's also worth mentioning that the Shield supports Dolby's new Atmos sound standard, so this really is a great way to enjoy a premium media streaming experience on a budget.
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Know of a better way to build a sweet Plex system? Let us know in the comments below.