For those tired of playing within Apple TV’s (s aapl) limited bounds, Plex provides some new freedom for jailbroken current generation devices. You may have already seen this media center application on your Mac or iOS device. Plex is based on the open-source XBMC (also the basis for Boxee) and provides a free alternative to sticking with only what Apple has provided.
Though only in the “concept client” mode (untested and complicated to install) as of right now, the jailbreak app shows the true, unlocked potential of the new Apple TV. Plex allows you to stream nearly any kind of video directly to your device from your Mac, not just the content in your iTunes library. Despite being an early build, the app does have a clean interface that fits right in on the Apple TV and allows for easy navigation.
Plex also introduces various other sources from which to draw media, in addition to those provided by your Apple TV and files on your local network. It can act as a media center for streaming content from the web, and is compatible with sources like FoxNews.com, MLB.com and BBC iPlayer. Perhaps most useful of all, Plex also supports Hulu. Essentially, an Apple TV running this new jailbreak app nears content parity with the much more expensive Google TV offerings.
Some limitations of the application include how Plex must re-encode videos rather than play them back in native form, using more device resources, and how it still isn’t very easy to install or jailbreak your device.
If you’re looking to try it out in the current un-tested mode, visit the Plex forums. For non-advanced users, it’s probably best to wait for a more stable (and more easily installed) version to emerge. As always, remember that jailbreaking your device can create various problems, to the point of making your device unusable and/or voiding your warranty.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):