Making your digital media accessible throughout your home involves two things: a media server for managing the files via a media library, and a home theatre app for browsing and playing your media on other devices, from tablets and phones to smart TVs and set-top boxes. The concept is nothing new, as veteran users of XBMC and Plex will attest.
Media Browser offers an alternative to Plex, particularly when the server is a Windows PC. Mac and Linux beta builds are also both available – click here for more information – but are currently for advanced users only.
So what’s unique? Media Browser offers a similar interface to Plex, will automatically download episode and movie information and posters based on your filenames, and works across a variety of devices via a series of free – and increasingly paid-for – apps. Nevertheless, there are some nifty features that set it apart.
The most notable of these is multi-user support – this allows you to set up family and friends with their own customised (and restricted in the case of children) access to your library, with the ability to tweak certain playback settings to their personal tastes.
Configuration and management is remarkably simple - at least on the surface: once installed, a wizard opens in your browser that takes you through the initial steps of setting up your media libraries based on location and content. You create your first user and then find yourself at the Media Browser dashboard.
From here, configuring and fine-tuning your media server is simplicity itself: set up those user accounts, download and install plugins to add extra functionality and tweak DLNA settings, all while you wait for the initial library scan to complete.
Click the Home button in the top left-hand corner, and you can browse your library for material to view and watch directly from your web browser. More importantly, your server will also be visible to any DLNA device, but for best results seek out the Media Browser mobile app for Android, iPhone, iPad or Windows 8, or install Media Browser Theater for your Windows 7/8 PC. You’ll also find plugins for Windows Media Center, Media Portal and XBMC if you’re wedded to those devices.
And that’s it – all of your media, accessible from just about any device in your home.
A decent alternative to Plex, but Media Browser feels just that bit less intuitive at this stage, although it does offer more options for fine-tuning your libraries.