Now is the perfect time to kick start a project to get a very simple Plex client on Linux on the Raspberry Pi.

Similar functionality to the iOS app, and likely based on the work done by the OpenELEC team.

Unfortunately, I am not the person to do it: even the hour or so every few days to work on my own setup is scraping focus from other projects. I know that there are some great people and great teams out here that could find their voice through a project like this, so I’m happy to release it in to the wild. šŸ™‚

Here’s Why:

The release of the Raspberry

  • We’re now passing the 75,000 unit mark.
  • Another shipment of 100,000 is already in the works and set for fall delivery.
  • No signs of slowing down.
  • More similar boards getting in to the game.

x264 Scene releases

  • The groups that allow us to device-shift content we already have recordedĀ chose on Feb 20,2012 to change the encoding from Mpeg4 to x264 on all shows being released.
  • This cuts out a bunch of older device support, and pulls many people towards a new device (Devices left in the dust: Wii, Original Xbox, VCD players, lower-powered computers, and more I’m not thinking of).

Crowdfunding options (See: KickStarter)

  • RasPi has a huge mindshare, not least of which is because of the video showing it running XBMC way back when.
  • Media centres are common, but finding the right client for Plex has been tricky; there’s no Plex box, and as far as I am aware, there is no Plex client on any device that has an RCA video connection in addition to HDMI.
  • I have seen numerous posts about people being willing to pay for something that works.
  • IMO; Plex has the right idea from a user interface and interaction standpoint; MyPlex is awesome, streaming to all devices with synchronized play counts and transcoding when needed? Yes please.

Outsourcing Options

  • It’s easier than ever to hire great developers, there is even an option of having some of the stars of the forums on the payroll through something like odesk.com.
  • Once the UI is pared right down, the basics of the Plex Client make it an attainable short-term goal.

There’s even some money to be made

Sell Pre-loaded SD Cards

There has always been a market for people who take technically complicated solutions and package them in a simple way; selling an accessory kit with two options: “SD” (3x RCA output) or “HDTV” (HDMI), a preloaded (and approved) SD card with automatic updates, and a decent remote.

Even sell just the accessory kits: Partner with a drop-shipper so the only stock to be maintained are blank SD cards, and even that can be outsourced since it’s just a matter of imaging the card, testing it, and putting it in an envelope.

So, what could this look like?

Visually, I think the Plex team has done some amazing work, with a lot of thought behind everything, so I would definitely suggest teaming with them or at least getting their consent to shamelessly rip off the iOS version‘s design.

For functionality, these are some suggestions for starting points:

  • MyPlex Support (find servers and shows the device as a media player so that the plex iphone/ipad app can be used as a remote)
  • Animations to a minimum (700Mhz ARM after all)
  • Intelligence regarding SD card size (<2GB: disable caching by default, 8GB+; cache as much as possible in RAM-friendly formats, etc)
  • PMS needs to transcode audio from some HD files while leaving the video intact (DTS decoding chokes the CPU when it’s not doing passthrough)
  • Free download installer (a la OpenElec or Raspbmc)
  • On-device updates for Plex, and the RasPi kernel
  • And, maybe; access to overclocking profiles from within the advanced settings (changes the config.txt file with a warning of what happens when it’s flaky, as well as how to change it back if the device fails to boot)

Imagine your name in lights, and TVs around the world literally glowing with the work that you contributed to!

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