Plex updates Fire TV app with new UI and support for Live TV and DVR

Plex has just updated their Amazon Fire TV app with a significant interface overhaul. In doing so they’ve also added support for Live TV and DVR capabilities to Fire TV devices. This means you can now connect a TV tuner to your Plex server and stream live programming to all of your Fire TV devices with recording and time shifting capabilities.

The new Plex interface is certainly not going to go over well with everyone. It’s essentially the same interface that was pushed to Android TV devices earlier this year with very little change. This has some major drawbacks, like no longer being able to use the play/pause button on the Fire TV remote, since Android TV remotes don’t have that button. Hopefully, Plex doesn’t take long to customize the app a bit more for the Fire TV platform.

New interface aside, the updated app brings the much-anticipated ability to stream Live TV to Fire TV devices. Plex first launched these capabilities on other platforms earlier this year, but now it’s finally available for Fire TV devices.

The most common way to take advantage of the Live TV and DVR functionality is to have an HDHomeRun networked tuner box. However, you can also connect a USB or PCI tuner directly to your Plex server and have access to the tuner from Fire TV devices. Some of the supported USB tuners include the Hauppauge WinTV-DualHD, Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-955Q, Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One, and the AVerMedia AVerTV Volar Hybrid Q, as well as the PCI-E based HAUPPAUGE WinTV-quadHD tuner card.

This Plex update also adds the ability to rename the device within the app. This should allow for a much better experience using Plex’s Alexa voice-control capabilities, for those of you who have multipe devices running Plex. The new interface is also said to be much better on memory, so it should seem snappier and smoother, especially on weaker devices like the 1st-gen Fire TV Stick. A Plex Pass subscription is required to use the Live TV and DVR features.

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21 comments
  1. Craig says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t move over to the Android TV Material Design UI much sooner? I’m sure it’s easier developing for one UI than two different ones. Least now Plex users on Fire TV get thumbnails chapter previews if their movies support em.

  2. Edgar R. says:

    They fix HD audio passthrough on native app with this update on firetv? Never got 7.1 to work let alone 5.1. Both DTSHD or TrueHD.

  3. JV says:

    Too bad you still need to use the Plex server. It’s so invasive and cpu intensive. Just read the files like Kodi does and cache the content/thumbnails on the client.

    • John says:

      Um, then just use Kodi? Those of us who use Plex generally see the server as it’s key strength, not a burden. Heck, I use Kodi as a front-end for my Plex server at home.

      Not sure where it’s “CPU intensive.” It only uses a lot of CPU if it’s transcoding, which Kodi just can’t do. And “invasive”…I have no idea what you’re even talking about there.

      • Joe says:

        “Which Kodi doesn’t need to do” would be more accurate, best I can tell. I don’t care how it works, just that it does.

      • Andy says:

        Any idea why Plex on Kodi won’t play a lot of 1080p files, while the regular Plex app plays them without any issues ? Only way I can fix that on the Plex/Kodi app is to change the playback to 720p.

      • Adam says:

        Hi John, how is the server a strength?

        I’m not challenging the assertion, I just don’t know.

        My setup is SPMC on the FireTV supplied over cat5 by a hard drive on my network. I don’t think I’m missing out on any features, the media scraping is done by SPMC and I don’t have to have PC up and running as a server to watch a movie.

        I realize this question comes off as mine-is-better-yours-is-teh-devil troll of old(*) but that is not my intention. I know that a lot of people that know more than I prefer to use Plex over a simple Kodi/network drive combination, I’m just ignorant as to why…

        *How quaint these now seem. The… vitriol on Facebook or Youtube or any news story comment section actually makes me miss the “savagery” of the vi vs Emacs wars…

        • John says:

          For a single local LAN install Kodi is fine. But keeping 10 instances of it in sync is a nightmare.

          And Plex is seriously everywhere…I have literally gone over to a friend’s house, downloaded the Plex app on their PS3, punched in my login, and poof, all my media instantly available.

          • Adam says:

            Reading a little, I also see the advantage of syncing media between devices. Start watching it in the living room, finish watching it in the basement. Not something that fits my pattern of use, but I can see it as a distinction that justifies having a server up if that is a feature you want.

            “You want media syncing? Back in my day, if you wanted media syncing, you hit eject on the VHS player and carried your tape to your friends house and hoped that his father wasn’t one of them Betamax commies”

      • Reflex says:

        Kodi has no transcoding capability. It works fine so long as the client can read the format, and has the CPU cycles to decode in realtime. For a tv set top box, a PC or a higher end tablet this is fine. For a mobile device, especially remotely (think cell phone over LTE) this is both data and power intensive. With Plex you can choose to transcode on the server, which is presumably not power limited, or on the device, or set it automated based on the scenario (for instance, I transcode on the server when on a LTE connection but not when I’m on the LAN the server is on).

        Kodi is a more limited product than Plex. Plex can do almost everything Kodi can, but Kodi can only do a subset of what Plex can. I like Kodi and it makes sense for some scenarios, but for others Plex really shines.

    • shwru980r says:

      How old is the computer you’re using for your plex server? You should probably update to a Pentium Kadylake processor at a minimum with 8G of ram.

  4. Mc says:

    The new ui sucks pretty hard.. everything looks differently, functions differently, nasty navigation.. wish everything was fully abstracted so you could skin the ui to look like the older version while allowing the new functionality..

  5. tech3475 says:

    Heads up for anyone using HDHomrun, if it’s not being detected and you’re using a switch, try plugging it directly into the router (at least for the initial setup).

    For some reason it otherwise failed to be detected by various devices due to a DHCP error.

    Also in Plex’s EPG setup, for UK users at least, only enter the first part of the post code and not the full i.e. XX00 not XX00 1YY.

    So far server side, it seems very much in beta with recordings failing but not saying so and skipping through a recording takes allot of time, if at all.

    I also wish they used a traditional EPG as opposed to the ‘library’ based approach.

    That said, I’m hoping that overall the benefits outweigh the cost.

    • shwru980r says:

      Thanks for the feedback. Skipping over commercials is the main reason I use a DVR and missed recordings are no bargain either. I won’t be using plex for a DVR.

      • tech3475 says:

        To update to my previous post, today I had one recording failure (transcoder error was reported) but another recording was fine.

        Through the browser, playback didn’t seem to be working (presumably because it’s MPEG2-TS).

        On the Fire TV with the latest version though playback seems to be working, including the ability to skip without significant delay like my previous tests.

        Live TV, one channel loaded while another didn’t within reasonable time.

        Right now I’d class it as hit or miss and it looks like I’ll need to keep a second DVR going for now until it can earn my trust.

  6. Hanif says:

    Meanwhile……. YouTube have done the complete opposite to Plex – they’ve scrapped their fluid Leanback interface for their Android TV YouTube app in favour of standardising it with the same UI as seen on non-Android TV televisions such as Samsung and LG TVs – which is basically a shell of their TV website (www.youtube.com/tv).

    Plex are moving forward with design while YouTube are going backwards.

  7. stadi says:

    I’ve been waiting for this UI for a long time. I really hated the old one. I always use the all movies, all tv shows view, and it was hard to get there in the old one. Here i get much faster to where I need to and everything looks cleaner. Unfortunately I can’t get into settings as it crashes on my 2st gen FireTV, hopefully they fix it.

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