PlayOn vs. Plex Media Server

A comparison of two approaches to streaming media from your PC to your Wii U

Plex Media Server Screen

There are two good options for streaming media from your computer to your Wii U; PlayOn and Plex Media Server. Here’s a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each. Note that if you’re using Linux or a Mac you can skip the rest of this article and just install Plex; PlayOn is PC only.

Cost: Free

Plex Media Server and PlayOn are both free, although both offer paid for services that aren't relevant to this article. 

Ease of Setup: Easy and Easier

Plex’s setup is a little more complicated than PlayOn’s. That’s why I wrote a step-by-step guide on setting up Plex but didn’t do the same for PlayOn, which only requires that you install it then open settings and add your media folders via the My Media tab. Then just go to in your Wii U browser and go to My Media Files->Media Library->Videos. Plex is pretty straightforward to install, but not quite that simple.

Interface: Simple or Fancy

Plex has a much more elaborate interface than PlayOn. Plex downloads detailed information on your movies categorizes TV shows into a library system and offers various sorting capabilities. You can add tags, choose subtitles, and change the resolution, which is useful if the file is streaming more information than your connection can carry. This fanciness has some drawbacks on the Wii U, like difficult-to-grab scrollbars, and some things don't work well; for example, if you change the default settings on your Wii U they will revert back the next time you start it up.

PlayOn just gives you a list of files which you can find alphabetically or via folders. Very simple but also very rigid.


In terms of the steadiness of the stream, I've found PlayOn to be more consistent. Plex struggles more with some video formats than others, and is more prone to pauses and stuttering, although these effects usually lessen after a couple of minutes. I've had PlayOn play videos that Plex choked on.


Plex is a complex, feature-laden application that suffers from some technical issues and interface quirks on the Wii U. For the most part, though, it does what I want it to, and includes some features like support for subtitles and dual audio that are essential when playing some videos. PlayOn, on the other hand, is simple and clean, but its bare-bones approach isn't nearly as engaging. Personally, I prefer Plex, but it’s worth having both installed, in case one gets you problems that they other can resolve.