What is Plex Pass and do you need it? – Geek Review

Complex

If you’re tired of getting rattled by streaming services, Plex can be your saving grace. The free Plex service lets you create a streaming platform based on your personal collection of movies, shows, and music. But if you want to take it to the next level, a PlexPass Subscription is a must.

Alone, Plex is completely free

Unlike Netflix or Hulu, which are streaming services, Plex is a media server platform. You provide hardware and content from Plex, and it gives you a beautiful interface that automatically organizes and labels everything.

A free Plex subscription lets you stream content from your media server to any device in your home. It’s completely ad-free and each member of your household can create a personal profile on your Plex server.

That said, you will encounter some restrictions when using Plex for free. A Plex Pass subscription is required if you want to stream media outside of your home. Also, without Plex Pass, the Plex mobile app costs $5 per device. (To be clear, the Plex app is free on smart TVs.)

Plex Pass unlocks remote streaming and more

Plex running on a smartphone.
Gary L Hider / Shutterstock.com

Some Plex users are perfectly happy with a free subscription. But really, the benefits of Plex Pass are hard to ignore. A Plex Pass subscription lets you stream media from your server to devices outside your home, including those owned by friends and family. Plex Pass truly turns your Plex Media Server into a personal streaming service.

Moreover, Plex Pass gives you awesome quality of life features. It lets you skip intros in TV shows, record videos or music for offline enjoyment, or even set content restrictions for kids.

Here are all the features included in Plex Pass:

  • Remote broadcast: A Plex Pass subscription is required for remote streaming.
  • Hardware transcoding: Leverage your server hardware to natively transcode video.
  • Free mobile apps: Plex usually charges money for its mobile apps. But with Plex Pass, these apps are free.
  • Offline downloads: Save media content to a device for offline viewing or listening.
  • Content Restrictions: Prevent your children from viewing inappropriate content on Plex.
  • Watch and Record Live TV: Plug an OTA receiver into your Plex Media Server to stream and record live shows.
  • Skip intros: Plex Pass gives you the option to skip TV show intros.
  • Trailers and supplements: Your Plex server will automatically find additional trailers and clips to accompany the movies.
  • Multiple film cuts: Keep multiple cuts of the same movie, such as the theatrical and director’s cuts of Extraterrestrial.
  • HDR Tone Mapping: Improve the visual quality of content on your HDR-enabled display.
  • Early Access and Betas: Unlock new features before they are available to free users or test beta versions of the Plex Media Server app.
  • Music Features: Unlock Plexamp player, automatic song lyrics, additional music controls, offline listening and an optional Tidal discount.

We also have to highlight hardware transcoding, which may be the most important Plex Pass feature. Plex uses transcoding to reduce a movie’s resolution or change its file type, which is necessary when you have a poor internet connection or when your smart TV isn’t compatible with a certain video file.

For free users, Plex offers something called software transcoding. But software transcoding is too demanding and can cripple your Plex media server. Hardware transcoding is much easier on your server, ensuring fewer downtimes (or zero downtime) when transcoding is needed.

Of course, Plex isn’t just for movies and TV shows. It doubles as a personal music streaming platform. And with a Plex Pass subscription, you can ditch Spotify or Apple Music in favor of your own high-quality music files.

For music fans, Plex Pass is essential

images from the Plexamp application on Android.
Plexamp

A free Plex account lets you manage and play music from your server. Plex supports most music file types, including lossless formats such as FLAC. And, of course, you can stream your music library from the Plex app or web player.

But for a more dedicated music experience, you’ll probably want a Plex Pass subscription. It unlocks several music-oriented features, including the Plexamp music player.

Plexamp is a dedicated music streaming app for your Plex media server. Its interface is similar to that of Spotify or Apple Music, although it offers a customizable user interface, visualizers and other interesting features. Of course, you can download music from Plexamp for offline listening, or even share the service with friends and family.

And oddly enough, Plexamp can stream music directly from Tidal. It’s like mixing a “real” streaming service with your personal library – Plex Pass even includes a discount code for a Tidal subscription. (This Tidal stuff isn’t forced on you, by the way. Most Plex users don’t even know it.)

A Plex Pass subscription also gives you detailed music controls, including volume settings and fade options. Moreover, it lets you see song lyrics, which are automatically pulled from lyrics websites.

How much does the Plex Pass cost?

Pricing options for Plex Pass.
Complex

Plex Pass prices are incredibly competitive, especially compared to traditional streaming services like Netflix or HBO Max. It’s only $5 a month, and budget-conscious shoppers can save big with an annual or lifetime subscription.

  • Monthly plan: $5 per month ($60 per year)
  • Annual plan: $40 per year
  • Lifetime plan: $120 one-time fee

The Plex Pass Lifetime Membership is a very good deal. It pays for itself after only two years and never needs to be renewed.

Notably, Plex offers a huge discount on its lifetime membership every few months. You can get a lifetime Plex Pass for just $65 during these sales, which tend to happen in the spring and fall.

Should you pay for the Plex Pass?

Plex playing music and videos on three phones.
Complex

Some people are happy to use Plex for free. But most users end up paying for Plex Pass at some point, whether to unlock remote streaming, offline viewing, or the Plexamp music player. At just $5 a month, Plex Pass is definitely worth it.

That said, those new to Plex should give the free membership a try for a while. This will help you get familiar with the platform. Plus, if you learn that Plex isn’t meeting your needs, you can walk away knowing you haven’t spent a dime.

Once you have a good feel for Plex, you should consider signing up for Plex Pass. It’s an affordable subscription that takes your media server to the next level. And hey, nobody’s forcing you to buy the Lifetime plan – some people sign up for Plex Pass to take their media on vacation and cancel the service after a month.

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