Media Streamers

Plex unveils revamped Roku app, we go hands-on

We took the brand-new Plex for Roku app for a spin and walked away satisfied.

plex-roku.jpg
Dan Graziano/CNET

Plex is one of the most powerful and popular apps available on Roku . It doesn't have the name recognition of Netflix or HBO Go, but Plex claims it's ranked as one of the top five apps on the platform, and is used on more than 1.4 million Roku devices.

Compared to the slick Plex apps on other devices, the popular but dated-looking Roku app was due for an update. Now one is available.

Plex on Tuesday released a preview version of its revamped Roku app, but it's currently only available to Plex Pass subscribers ($4.99 per month, which works out to £3.25 or AU$6.40, with yearly and lifetime options). The updated app will arrive for non-Plex Pass subscribers in the next few months.

If you aren't familiar with it, Plex is a piece of software that can be used to organize your personal media libraries from your computer, such as movies, music and photos, and stream them to your TV, a secondary computer or your mobile device. It even supports a variety of channels (similar to those found on the Apple TV ) for watching content from the BBC, Comedy Central, Vimeo, YouTube and many more.

The Plex software is free to use, although the paid-for Plex Pass gets you more features and access to the company's various apps. The Roku app is available for free to Plex Pass subscribers or can be had for a one-time fee of $4.99 after a 30-day free trial.

roku-hubs-1.png
Plex

We got to spend some time with the new Roku app and we were impressed. The first thing you'll notice when you jump in is the new layout -- it's a stunning design. If you've used a Plex app on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 , the design will be familiar.

Plex

One of my favorite things about Plex is that it can identify the media you add to your library and automatically fill metadata. For example, after adding my copy of the movie "Big Hero 6" to my Plex server on my computer, the software shows me information on the cast and crew, a summary of the film, artwork, and even trailers and behind-the-scenes videos.

All of these features are placed front and center in the new app, which help give it a more premium feel that could mean your Roku is easily mistaken for an Apple TV.

Plex

There's a lot to like in the redesigned app, but it's not yet fully functional. This preview version supports video and music playback, cinema trailers and behind-the-scenes videos, but not photos, playlists or channels. These features are said to be coming soon, although no firm date has been set.