The official demo includes a tour of Plex’ “intergalactic headquarters”.
(No, Edward Snowden hasn’t gone to work there.)
The Echo Dot/Alexa, Amazon’s hands-free, voice-controlled device, recently acquired a new skill: Plex.
(Plex is a great, free way to make your own music/video content available on your smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.)
I have worked with this skill quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem highly usable for me. Why?
- You must already have a Plex app up and available for Alexa to control. If I have just used my Logitech Harmony remote to set up our Roku’s Plex channel, then the remote is a more straightforward way to make selections.
- Even when the Plex channel is up on our Roku 3, Alexa occasionally seems to be blind to its availability. A reboot of the Roku 3 is needed to get Alexa to “see” it. (It may be more a problem with this model of Roku than with Alexa.)
- If you have more than one Plex Media Server (we do), it’s time-consuming to get Alexa to switch servers. You must listen to a numbered list of available servers before you can respond.
- Voice control generally works OK for movies. For TV shows, I rarely would remember the specific season and episode number. With a physical remote, you don’t need to recall anything; it’s browsable up there on the screen.
- Asking Alexa for suggestions, or to shuffle music by an artist, or to play something new works fairly well. But it frequently takes me more than one try to get Alexa to play a specific album. Often, only one song is played from the album (maybe an Alexa bug).
The Alexa Plex skill will likely improve; this is the initial roll-out.
Note: when Alexa is controlling Plex, the music or movie sound issues from the device running the Plex app (e.g., smart TV, Roku), rather than from the Echo Dot. That’s fine if your Echo Dot is located close enough to you.
But if your Echo Dot is plugged into a sound system playing non-Alexa sound, the Dot may be too close to the speakers for Alexa to understand without you yelling the entire command. (When Alexa herself is playing internet radio, merely the word “Alexa” gets her to mute the sound so she can hear the command.)
Then, you probably would need to use the sound-switching tactic I described in a previous post, Amazon Echo Dot as a stereo component. Or use a long cord to get the Echo Dot away from the speakers and closer to your voice.
Or, get another Echo Dot to sit within arm’s length, and change its wake word to “Echo”, “Amazon”, or “Computer”. They only cost $50.
However, two talking devices in the same room might give you app-o-Plex-y 🙂 .
“A-Plex-a” is cool and fun, though impractical for my everyday use.
If you are a Plex and Alexa user, do go ahead and try it; the price is right: $0.