A program like Plex offers the best of both worlds. Plex indexes all of the media on your PC, and then streams it to mobile and connected devices alike—so you can watch movies on your smartphone or tablet while you're on the go, or on set-top boxes like the Roku, PS3, and Xbox.
The downside is that you need to leave your PC running 24/7, at least during the times when you want to have streaming access to your movie library. The Plex software taxes your system a bit, too, especially when it's indexing files and transcoding them while streaming.
Back in December, PCWorld's Alex Castle detailed how to get started with Plex, so I won't rehash that setup process here. Instead, let's look at pairing Plex with a Roku box so you can enjoy all of your newly ripped movies on your big-screen TV.
First, you'll want to make sure that Plex has scanned the folder containing your ripped movie files. Right-click the Plex icon in your System Tray, and click Media Manager. In the My Library section, click the plus sign, choose Movies, and then add the appropriate folder.
While Plex is scanning the contents, head to Roku's site and add the Plex channel. You'll need to be signed in to your Roku account. If you own a newish Samsung TV, an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 3, or a Google TV box, you should be able to find a Plex channel on that device as well.
Now turn on your TV, fire up the Roku box, and flip to the Plex channel. You should have access to all of your movies! Keep in mind though, that new channels can take a few minutes to appear, and Plex can take even longer to scan and catalog your movie folder. So don't be alarmed if you don't see your full library right away. If you take the time to set up the Plex mobile device client, you should also be able to stream your movies to your smartphone or tablet with ease.
And that's it! As long as Plex is running, you can access your movies via apps and set-top boxes. You've just given your DVD library a new, cloud-savvy lease on life.
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