Plex Box Shoot-Out !

For this month’s sponsored Plex video we take a look at what options are out there for folks who stream high-end 4k content in the home from their personal Plex media server. While the server requirements are not steep for this sort of activity (you only need enough LAN bandwidth), there is great complexity in choosing the right player.

In the video we look at four popular video players: The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, Amazon Fire TV Cube Gen 3, Apple TV 4k and the Xbox. What I was testing for was each box’s ability to play a high bit rate 4k Blu Ray rip that contains Dolby Vision HDR video, lossless ATMOS or DT-S X sound, and can properly switch the television into 24p with the proper HDR mode selected.

As you’ll see in the video the NVidia Shield is still the reining champion for nearly 100% compatibility with most of the video formats Plex enthusiasts use. If Nvidia ever stops selling them it’ll be a disaster for the Plex community!

The Apple TV and Fire TV Cube are making progress but are not quite there. The big issue with both boxes is that they convert audio to LPCM in the background and there’s no way for the user to circumvent that for a direct feed to the receiver.

The Xbox is very close to becoming an alternative to the Shield. It does work with all lossless audio formats and supports HDR but it’s still not quite there when it comes to Dolby Vision. Given how solid everything is I don’t think it’ll be long until it’s up there with the Shield – and of course it has a great library of games too.

These videos are always fraught with danger for me as the technical weeds are deep and I like to keep things relatively simple. But so far from the comments it looks like I did ok on this one :).