I’m really trying not to add new devices to my life. I picked up a Roku last year so that I could watch CBS’ internet TV on my regular TV. I chose that instead of the Amazon or Apple TV because the Roku also let you add ‘apps’ for regular TV channels (SyFy, Freeform, PBS) and if I missed a TV episode due to travel, I could watch it on the big television.
Then I wanted to play some shows that I’d saved as MP4s from my laptop to my TV, without a new device like a Chromecast.
The solution was Plex
Plex is a media server you can run on your computer that lets you add all your media, even things that don’t exist in iTunes, and organize them sanely. You can manage it in your web browser (or command line) and while you do have to have an account with Plex the service, you don’t have to pay or sign up for any of the services.
If you have an Apple TV or an Amazon Fire you can use those too, but I used my Roku, added my media, and boom. Watching videos I own from my laptop on my TV.
A couple caveats:
- If you download MP4s from cough torrent cough places, you’ll need to get their subtitles too.
- TV show files need to named
SHOWNAME - S##E## - EPISODENAME.EXTto work properly.
It’s not perfect, but it’s better than trying to watch TV on your computer.