There have been many discussions about Kodi and Plex over the topic of which is the best media streaming service. If you still can’t decide which is better, please read this article as we’ve provided an in-depth comparison of Plex vs. Kodi covering the aspects we think you ought to know. And we hope you will feel no pressure to make the right choice between the two media software by the end of this article. Now, let’s dive in!
Kodi is a free and open-source media player software that was first created for the first-generation Xbox game console. And it’s named XBMC (Xbox Media Center) back then. But now it has changed its name and developed into a stand-alone media player that can run on a wide selection of devices to stream movies, music, and photos flexibly.
Plex is also a media center application. But unlike Kodi, Plex is a server-client based software that can stream media content from the server to any client device. Yet, Plex does have something in common with Kodi since part of Plex was actually derived from Kodi source code. So you will notice the two software share some similarities, such as the functionality to access one’s local collections of movies, TV shows, music, and photos, and manage and playback the media content.
Though the two media applications have some features that overlap, they are in essence two distinct software. The ultimate difference between Kodi and Plex lies in their usages. Kodi is mainly for one person to watch content on one device, while Plex is more for people to watch and share media with his/her whole family or friends across platforms. We will unravel more details in the next section’s Plex vs. Kodi comparison.
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Note: This will be a long read. If you don’t want to spend much time on this, you can scroll down to the next part to see the Kodi Plex comparison table. But you will miss some information.
Platform compatibility is the most obvious yet vital factor in evaluating whether the product suits you or not. Both Kodi and Plex support nearly all the mainstream platforms, but Kodi still can’t compete with Plex in this round.
Kodi is available on a lot of platforms, including Windows, Linux, Android, Raspberry Pi, iOS, macOS, and tvOS. Yet most of the Kodi installations on those platforms, say, iOS, need some workarounds like jail-breaking or side-loading. And this may not sound comfortable to most new beginners, though the Kodi software is compatible with their devices.
Plex, on the other hand, is supported by a wider range of platforms and with much easier installation as well. Apart from the devices mentioned above, the Plex media client also supports streaming services, Smart TVs, Web, and gaming consoles. It can even be installed as an add-on on Kodi.
In short, Kodi is best compatible with Android devices, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. Installation on other platforms like iOS, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV needs a little extra effort. Plex is compatible with almost all platforms.
Since Kodi is open-source, you can expect Kodi to be more flexible in customization. And it is, users with some computer know-how can do their own personification on the menu displaying, function improving, and other characteristic changes they want. The less-experienced users can also rely on its off-the-shelf plugins to customize the software to their tastes.
Plex, however, seems to have no customization at all except some basic touches on the home-screen modification and sidebar navigation. It is also void of plugins service (removed two years ago) that can help to customize the Plex interface at one go. But it’s worth noting that Plex already has a slick user interface that meets the popular aesthetics and most casual users don’t feel the need to make further changes to the UI.
Yet still, in the field of customization, Plex is no match for Kodi. And if you are a seasoned user and care about a personalized style, Kodi is your better option. But if you are a non-tech-savvy person, Plex may be the right one for you.
The way how Plex and Kodi store the media database is very different though they both scan and organize your local media collections. And that matters greatly as it explains how Plex and Kodi work and also helps you to decide which software you like better.
Kodi forms an independent database every time you install Kodi on a new device. Put another way, you won’t have the same Kodi media library when you moved to another device. For example, you have Kodi installed on both your computer and your phone. The Kodi on your computer will create a media database based on the media files on your computer; and the Kodi on your phone will also organize your phone-based library likewise. It’s very difficult to access your computer media through the Kodi on your phone and vice versa. And that explains why Kodi is only media player software.
Plex, on the contrary, has only one central media database stored on the Plex server device. And you can access the same database on any of your client platforms. Try to think of it as Netflix, only that the media database is from the local collections on your server device. And this also allows for some streaming services features such as multi-device watching, viewing progress tracking, and media downloading. Compared with Kodi’s independent database, Plex’s central database attests to its client-server model.
One thing that also matters yet is easy to get passed by is the transcoding feature. Understanding Kodi Plex’s difference on this will help you to see whether your device is the best to handle Kodi or Plex.
Transcoding is related to the database location. Since Kodi has a separate database on every new device, you can easily tell that Kodi has to rely on the very device where the Kodi is installed to do the transcoding. And this means your device cannot be too low-powered.
Plex, however, leaves all the heavy-lifting to the server device since its database is stored on the server. And there are no requirements for the client devices. This fact just speaks why Plex can be supported on nearly all platforms. Yet transcoding on the server device is CPU-intensive and requires a lot of power. And unlike Kodi, you have to buy a Plex Pass to enable hardware transcoding. Anyway, your server device, such as computers, NAS, and gaming consoles, should also have enough power.
Plex is better than Kodi in the field of sharing libraries since library sharing is almost Plex-exclusive. And that’s the biggest advantage Plex has over Kodi.
The gist of Plex is building a personal home media hub and sharing it with family and friends. This is possible due to the Plex media server you built. With the entire media database stored on the central media server, you can allow other people to access this server and watch the content just like you do. The maximum number of people you can share is 100. And you, the server owner, can decide which folder is to share with what person and set data limitations on the outgoing streams. However, this library sharing feature is only available in Plex Pass, which we will cover later.
Kodi is not meant for sharing instead. It is simply a media player to play your local files and stream online content with the help of add-ons. But if you want to enable sharing service on Kodi, there is a very complicated method to it, and we won’t talk about it here.
Speaking of plugins, it is now Kodi that holds all the aces.
Kodi’s plugins are called add-ons. We mentioned earlier the Kodi skin add-ons in the customization section, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to it (Check out the best Kodi addons in 2020). You’ll get the best experience on Kodi with its add-ons as they break the limits of media watching. It’s safe to say that it’s the add-ons feature that made today’s Kodi. Yet be careful when using these add-ons for not all of them are legal.
Plex once had a plugins service called channels. Unfortunately, Plex closed that service two years ago. What you can find now on Plex are only some ad-support TV channels. However, you can still watch IPTV on Plex through a workaround.
Price is the last but not least factor to the Kodi Plex evaluation. We’ll give a quick run-down on this.
Kodi is open-source and hence completely free. Plex, by contrast, is propriety software and is available in both free and paid versions. The premium Plex is called Plex Pass, and it charges $4.99/month, $39.99/year, and $119.99/lifetime. The before-mentioned functionality to playback media on some client devices, sync media offline, and share library are all Plex Pass features.
In our opinion, the full-featured Plex is a worthy deal, yet the free price is also appealing.
Before reaching the final verdict of Plex vs. Kodi, we would like to highlight again their relative strengths and weaknesses:
Kodi is an open-source media player that can playback your media content locally. It is highly customizable and supports plugins that could empower Kodi to access unlimited online streaming movies and TV shows. But it is not shareable on multiple devices.
Plex is a home media server to stream your private content to multiple client devices. It can be shared with other people. But it requires a Plex Pass to unlock most of its features. It is also less flexible and does not support plugins.
At this point, the answer is clear. If you want to build a home media hub, go with Plex. If you just want to have a place of your own, then go with Kodi. It’s all of a matter of personal preference. Thanks for reading!
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