By comparison, Kodi is designed to run on your main media center computer or device, but also includes emulators, games, and a more comprehensive set of plugins.
If you’re looking for a way to stream or watch movies and TV shows, there’s a good option you’re trying to choose between Kodi and Plex. Although both are solid options, there are some notable differences that can help you decide between them.
Plex: a media server to stream everywhere
Plex is a media server solution that is hosted on a single machine, somewhere on your local network. The server is used to store and stream media to other client devices on the network.
You can download and install Plex Media Server on a large number of devices, including desktop computers (Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD) and network-attached storage drives. Plex has relatively low system requirements for servers, though performance will be affected by the speed of your network and your decision to use or not use a wireless network.
Plex has a wide range of client apps to choose from. These let you access your Plex library and look up information about what you’re watching (like movie descriptions and ratings) using the Plex user interface. These are available for all major desktop operating systems, but also most smart TVs, set-top boxes like Apple TV and NVIDIA Shield, mobile platforms like Android and iPhone, and even VR headsets.
You can also use Plex through a web interface using a standard browser if you prefer. If you have a device that lacks a dedicated client app, Plex includes DLNA/UPnP streaming, which extends streaming capabilities to a large number of devices that support the standard (particularly older smart TVs).
While Plex is ideal as a local media streaming solution, it works remotely as well. You can log into your Plex account and stream your media over the internet from anywhere. You can also do things like share your library or view content with other people over the Internet.
Plex is strictly focused on the multimedia experience and includes a library of movies and TV shows that are ready to stream. These include public domain and ad-supported content, plus a host of live TV channels. You can extend this selection with a wide selection of plugins
Locally, Plex allows you to add your own movies, TV shows, music, photos, and home videos. The media server will scan your library and pull relevant cover images, descriptions, ratings, and more.
Although Plex is free to download, some features require Plex Pass or a one-time fee. Plex Pass provides seamless access to streaming via mobile apps, hardware transcoding, local downloads, themes, additional users, the ability to use Plex as a DVR, offline listening to local music from Plexamp, lyrics, and more. Plex Pass currently costs $4.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription.
Kodi: A Media Center App
Kodi is a media center app that runs on a computer or other device connected to your main TV. Formerly known as Xbox Media Center and then XBMC, Kodi places great emphasis on making its user interface smooth and presenting your media in a stylish and functional way.
While you can run Plex on a server tucked away in a closet, Kodi works best on a dedicated home theater PC (HTPC) or similar. You can download and run Kodi on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, Raspberry Pi, and with a little work, closed Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
Kodi doesn’t come with any media, and instead you’ll need to add libraries for music, movies, TV shows, and photos. These can be locally attached internal or external drives or network locations such as Windows SMB shares and NAS devices. Since Kodi is a standalone solution, you’ll need to do a little extra work to sync your library across different instances.
Like Plex, Kodi can scrape the web and create a detailed library of content including cover images, descriptions, ratings, and more. The library will keep track of what you’ve watched and organize content by season. You can also record live TV using Kodi’s PVR abilities.
Kodi’s interface is beautiful and functional out of the box, but is also highly customizable with downloadable skins. There’s also a huge library of community-maintained plugins that add all sorts of features, from online streaming services to music visualizations and more.
With the right plugins, you can do more than just play local and remote media with Kodi. There are a large number of emulators and game launchers available as plugins, including MAME, DOSBox, and Libretro (home of the Retroarch multi-emulator system).
Although Kodi doesn’t use a separate server and client framework, you can still stream your library around the house by enabling DLNA/UPnP streaming within your Kodi settings.
Lastly, Kodi is a completely free and open source solution. Premium passes are not required to unlock the functionality, but by the same token, this functionality is a bit more limited.
Plex vs. Kodi: Which one should you choose?
Choosing one system over another doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to miss out on a lot of functionality. Both Plex and Kodi broadly support the same media types and enjoy excellent compatibility with most major video and audio formats. Both will scan and organize your media for you, download covers and descriptions, and present them in an eye-catching way.
Both are compatible with a wide range of devices and both are capable of maximizing compatibility through DLNA/UPnP streaming. Both are a great way to put an old computer you no longer use to good use. But there are some important differences that you can use to guide your decision.
Plex works well if you want to set up a server that isn’t connected to your main TV. As long as you have the right client apps available, you’ll get the full-featured Plex experience on any device. You can fill the gap with DLNA/UPnP streaming on older devices or use Plex’s web interface, but the server arguably works better if your client has a dedicated app available.
Fortunately, Plex has a large number of client apps available for most modern systems. This means you only need to run a single server somewhere on your network, even on a computer you already use that lives in your studio or is completely hidden from view like a NAS device.
Plex is the ideal choice if remote streaming is important to you. If you want to be able to access your library outside of your home network, Plex makes it easy. All you need to do is log in with your Plex username and password and choose what you want to stream. In addition to this, Plex comes with completely free access content.
Kodi is an endpoint for your media that should run on a device that’s directly connected to your main TV (or projector). Although it also includes the ability to stream your library locally, it’s best used on a dedicated HTPC or similar. This allows you to use its beautiful interface and the ability to function as a game launcher and an emulator. If you’re looking for an all-in-one emulator and media center, Kodi is hard to beat.
Since Kodi needs to be installed on a device that is directly connected to your TV, you will be able to use this device for different things. You could, for example, use Steam’s Big Picture mode to play games in your living room (run them natively or connect your gaming PC using Steam Link) or use an app like Playnite to link launchers like Epic Game Store and GOG together. under one. TV friendly interface.
Lastly, Kodi is completely free and open source. Plex has more features in terms of streaming from a single online library, but many of them (like streaming to mobile apps) aren’t necessarily free to use.
Install both for free (or try an alternative instead)
Long story short, go for Kodi if you’re looking for a single media center app to run on a computer or device that’s directly connected to your TV. If you prefer to stream from a single local server to numerous local or remote devices, Plex is the best option. Alternatively, you can run a combination of the two, as there is an official Plex addon available for Kodi.
Both Plex and Kodi are available to download and try for free. Kodi is free forever, while Plex has a generous free plan. There is nothing wrong with trying both to see which one is best suited for your use.
Alternatively, check out some of the best Plex alternatives. Jellyfin is one of those free and open source streaming solutions worth checking out.