Roku Channel Review – Plex Parental Controls Are (finally) Here!

 

  Late on the night of November 24th, I received a notification via email. It had finally happened. Plex finally announced long overdue parental controls. The folks at Plex even admit it themselves – these controls are years overdue. But alas, they are here. For those like myself who use Plex as their primary media server and have little ones in the home who shouldn’t have easy access to some of the content, this is big news. In January, I wrote about what I feel is an excellent alternative known as RARflix which I still use to this day. Though effective, RARflix requires establishing multiple Plex accounts, and sharing the portions of your Plex library that you want those accounts to have access to. You can then password protect any or all of those profiles using your Roku remote. Again, this works once all set up. But the fact is, Plex users shouldn’t have to go through this type of setup. There should be native parental controls.

   Plex pulls this all together with a new feature called Plex Home. Simply select “Check For Updates” via your Plex server icon and it should grab the latest version, 0.9.11.4 (although thanks to the auto-update feature built in it should have already updated on its own). You’ll then need to grab the Plex Test Chanel for Roku. It is important to note here that to take full advantage of this new awesomeness, you need to be a Plex Pass subscriber.

   Quick and simple: 1. The server updates. 2. You add the Roku channel. Boom – done! On top of that, Plex did an excellent job making the user setup as simple as can be via the server UI – a process they refer to as Creating A Plex Home. A very common sense approach: add a user, name the user, and if you want it to be a secured user enter a PIN. On the Plex Home website, there’s an example Home setup that illustrates this effective simplicity.

   Once completed, my setup looks like this:

   As this is new, it is not without at least on shortcoming. Oddly enough, the shortcoming is on the most important screen – the login screen itself. Not sure about anyone else, but I have one son in particular who likes to play the “I bet I can guess your password” game. As such, he often tries to sneak up on me to try to figure out the PIN and/or password for my cell phone or tablet, or the current PIN for RARflix. Thus, the problem with the current Plex PIN entry screen is that anyone can see your PIN as you are entering it because you have to navigate to each number on the keypad to select it:

   For the sake of Roku users, perhaps Plex will want to adopt a different approach. As for RARflix, the password is setup via the Roku as an admin user and is actually a directional pad combination (ex. – UP, DOWN, DOWN, UP, LEFT). Thus when entered at the login screen, there is no visible keypad but a blank area that displays asterisks as the directional pad is used:

   Other than that, I have had no other issues with this new setup. I applaud everyone at Plex for finally bringing this much needed feature to the most important element of my cord cutting universe!

   Have you created a Plex Home? If so, please share your thoughts on it below!

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