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All posts for the month January, 2016

New Year's Eve in New York

New Year’s Eve in New York

(This post isn’t directly about cord-cutting or home theater per se, but about a side benefit of Plex, which itself is a very good cord-cutting/home theater move.)

New Year’s Day, I signed up at Planet Fitness in south Tulsa.

At home, we have a Diamondback 860Rb stationary recumbent bike, and a Schwinn Bowflex Comp machine. Both my wife and I have used them regularly.

The bike was originally for her, but I liked it as an rainy-day alternative to running, and have used it much more often in recent years. I can get a pretty good workout from the Bowflex, so much so that I let my All American Fitness membership lapse years ago.

But after using the Life Fitness brand machines on the ship during our cruise last month, I thought I might like to be in a gym again for all the muscle-specific machines that demand constant force throughout the range of motion with inertial resistance. It would also be an impetus to get out of the house more often.

Planet Fitness has Life Fitness machines, plus a nice setup in their huge aerobic area with 18 TV screens, set on 9 different cable channels. You plug your own headphones into the machine’s console, then select the sound for the screen you want to watch.

The 2 shows I missed while cruising.

On my smartphone.

Arnold on my smartphone.

PF also has free wifi, so while exercising, I can stream any of our Plex content (e.g., my recordings of KWGS’ “All This Jazz” radio show, or any movie, TV show or music album from our Plex library) from home to my wifi smartphone in the gym. (Also see this summer’s post Poolside fun with Plex remote access)

Of course, I can use any of the other phone apps, such as Netflix, YouTube, TuneIn Radio, etc.

Plex has another feature which would be useful if there were poor or no wifi. You can sync any movie, TV show, or album to a specific device (like my phone), then watch or listen when not connected to a network.

This has always been possible, but used to be a huge hassle, due to the need to convert to a device-friendly size and format, then load the media to a phone or tablet.

But with Plex handling the transcoding and downloading, it’s easy.

Most of the movies in our Plex library are ripped from standard DVD (480p resolution, 1.5 Mbps bandwidth). When selecting for download in Plex, I typically cut the bandwidth in half (to 720 Kbps), since it makes little difference on a small screen, and creates a smaller, faster processing and loading media file.

I just added a 64 GB microSD card to my phone, so I imagine I could get most of our video library on it if I so desired.

Right now, I have two of my favorite movies (“The Terminator” and “Dr. Strangelove”) and two “All This Jazz” shows downloaded to the phone.

The other day at the gym, I tried streaming “Diamonds Are Forever” from one of our home Plex servers. During the 30 minutes I pedaled, there were a couple of momentary freezes, but they weren’t a significant viewing problem. If I didn’t care for that, or if wifi bandwidth were a problem, I could have just downloaded the movie before heading out the door.

Which I need to do in about 15 minutes.

Happy Plexing and Flexing New Year!