PlayOn vs. Plex Media Server

A comparison of two ways to stream media from your PC to your Wii U

There are two good options for streaming media from your computer to your Wii U: PlayOn and Plex Media Server. We tested both to see which one offers superior video game streaming.

PlayOn vs Plex

Overall Findings

PlayOn
  • Quick and easy setup.

  • Available for most computers and mobile devices.

  • Choose between desktop or cloud versions.

Plex Media Server
  • Available for smart TVs and game consoles (but not Wii U).

  • Collects data from users.

  • No cloud support.

Both services support streaming and recording access to various platforms. Plex Media Server boasts more bells and whistles overall. However, it lacks some of the features of PlayOn, most notably the option to store recordings in the cloud.

Cost: Free With Paid Options

PlayOn
  • A free trial is available.

  • Need a paid subscription to stream to Wii U.

  • Pay per recording.

Plex Media Server
  • Free streaming to game systems.

  • Flexible premium plans.

  • Stream live TV with Plex Pass.

If cost is your top criteria, then Plex Media Server is the clear winner. Plex and PlayOn are both free to download, but you must subscribe to PlayOn to stream to video game consoles. Plex Media Server also has premium options, and these are less expensive than PlayOn's.

Interface: Simple or Fancy

PlayOn
  • Bare-bones menus.

  • Works well with the Wii U interface.

  • No advanced options for categorizing recordings.

Plex Media Server
  • Organize and customize recordings.

  • Sometimes conflicts with the Wii U interface.

Plex Media Server has a more elaborate interface than PlayOn. Plex downloads detailed information on your movies, categorizes TV shows into a library system, and offers sorting capabilities. You can add tags, choose subtitles, and change the resolution, which is useful if the file is streaming more information than the connection can carry.

This fanciness has some drawbacks on the Wii U, for example, difficult-to-grab scrollbars, and some things don't work well. If you change the default settings on your Wii U, these settings revert back the next time you start it up. PlayOn, on the other hand, displays an alphabetical list of files and folders.

Streaming and Playback Quality: PlayOn Wins Out

PlayOn
  • Consistent quality with few sputters.

  • Record streams and save streams to the cloud.

Plex Media Server
  • Occasional technical hiccups.

  • Streaming problems typically resolve themselves.

In terms of the steadiness of the stream, PlayOn seems to be more consistent. Plex struggles with some video formats, and it's more prone to pauses and stuttering. These effects usually lessen after a couple of minutes but are still annoying.

Final Verdict

Plex Media Server 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 it's supposed to do. PlayOn, on the other hand, is simple and lightweight, but its bare-bones approach isn't nearly as engaging.

Plex is the more popular option for power users. Still, it's worth having both installed if one gives you problems that the other can resolve.