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Emby vs Plex – Which is the Better Media Center?

Posted by Jamie on May 23, 2018

If you’re in the market for a new media center, choosing what platform to use can be a little confusing. Do you go for the more established Kodi or Plex? Or do you go for the upstart Emby? To you prioritize feature or reliability? A helpful community or cutting-edge development? To help with that, I’m putting two media centers head to head in Emby vs Plex – Which is the best media center?

What is Emby?

Emby is an open source media center application that works a lot like Plex. It provides an attractive and easy to use dashboard that enables you to access all different kinds of media that you have stored on your media server. Like Plex, it uses a server-client setup. You configure a media server with the Emby server software and you can stream that content to any device that utilizes the Emby client software.

What is Plex?

Plex works in much the same way. It also uses the server-client architecture and turns your media center computer into a streaming powerhouse. It installs on a range of clients and offers some streaming channels of its own for good measure.

Emby vs Plex – Setup

In any head to head between two apps, setup has to be one of the most important deciders. Both apps are relatively straightforward to configure so it isn’t as simple to choose between them as it might be. However, Plex has spent a lot of time and effort on making it as simple to set up as possible and I think it has the edge here.

The Emby installer is a little more involved and there is some configuration needed to set everything up. Compare that to Plex where you install the software on server and client and as long as they are on the same network they find each other without having to do much at all.

Emby vs Plex – Features

Both Emby and Plex offer a lot. They both offer a way to stream your own content, access remotely from the internet, use addons, stream TV, add metadata to your media such as covers, artist, movie data etc., sync across devices, add user profiles and a ton more stuff.

Where they diverge is what comes free. It seems Plex offers more with the free package than Emby does with one important exception. Both offer premium subscriptions, Plex Pass and Emby Premiere but it appears that Emby locks more away behind the paywall than Plex does. There is also no parental control that I can see with Emby. For those of us with little ones, that could be a deal breaker.

The one big exception is Live TV. Plex offers it but only as part of Plex Pass. Even though it uses free OTA signal feeds, you still have to pay for the ability to watch TV. Emby offers it for free. Emby Premier offers DVR functions but the ability to watch TV is free.

Emby vs Plex – Addons

Emby calls them plugins, Plex calls them channels. We tend to call them addons. Those extra features you can download and integrate into your media center to add more power. Both platforms work with addons and both have a number of them to choose from.

Plex has a definite advantage here but only because it is the more established media center. It has many more channels available than Emby right now. I expect that to change as Emby gains ground as the community that supports it seems very active. At the present time there are more addons for Plex that offer much more than the few currently available for Emby.

Emby vs Plex – Cost

The cost of Emby and Plex is very similar. They both offer a free version and have three subscription plans. Emby costs $4.99 a month, $54 a year and $119 for a lifetime. Plex costs $4.99 a month, $39.99 a year and $119.99 for a lifetime. Unless you’re paying yearly, there is nothing to choose between them.

The advantage comes with what you get for your money. If you look at the features lists linked above, Plex Pass offers a lot more features than Emby Premier. If those features offer value to you and how you would use the platform, that gives advantage to Plex. If you wouldn’t use those features, it is much harder to choose between them.

Emby vs Plex – Usability

Emby and Plex are both very straightforward to use once configured. Emby isn’t quite so beginner friendly but if you have used Kodi or another media center before, you won’t get lost. If you’re a total newbie, Plex has been designed specifically for you.

Both platforms make it easy to configure the UI. Both arrange and organize your media in a logical way and both have very logical navigation.

Emby vs Plex – Which is the best media center?

Both Emby and Plex are very competent platforms that offer simple ways to control and stream media. Both work well, are simple to use and once setup, they both just work. Plex has the advantage of being more mature and has many more features and addons. Emby is the upstart and is coming along strong.

For now, I would say Plex has the advantage. It has been around longer, has more features for free, more addons and more users. However, this advantage will erode in time as Emby has a loyal support base and is growing and developing all the time.

What do you think is the best Emby or Plex? Tell us your thoughts below!

One thought on “Emby vs Plex – Which is the Better Media Center?”

Agustus Steranko says:
I love Plex
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This Guide Last Updated: May 23, 2018

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