Kodi vs Plex: Which media-streamer is best?
When it comes home streaming solutions, you have two main options: Kodi or Plex. Both programs originated from media software designed for the first Xbox (XMBC), but since then they’ve been developed in parallel. Despite their shared beginnings, Kodi and Plex now take two very different approaches to streaming media, and choosing the one for you will depend on a variety of factors. So which is best: the open-source Kodi or the carefully developed Plex? Here we’ll go through everything from customisation to compatibility to work out which streaming solution is the one for you.
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Navigation is one of the most important aspects of a media streamer, and both Kodi and Plex deliver in this respect. Kodi uses a clear display that translates well on bigger screens, so it’s easy to fly through menus on any device, but Plex has the neater, quicker and cleaner interface. That being said, Kodi does offer a range of skin customisation options that make it possible to change the UI on a whim.
Verdict: It’s a draw. Both home theatre options are clean and easy to use. Although Kodi does give you more options to customise the look of the media streamer, Plex’s menu system is already very good – so why change it?
If you’re going to be using your streaming software a great deal, you’ll want to have it set up just as like it – and that means you’ll want to customise it. Because of its open-source roots, almost every aspect of Kodi is customisable. In contrast, Plex offers significantly less customisation.
Verdict: Kodi wins. Kodi is good in its original form, but it excels when customised. Whether you want to add extensions, change the skin or add a new source, you can do it with Kodi. However, it’s important to note that this extra customisation comes with increased difficulty, so if you don’t fancy tinkering with menus, Plex is probably a better choice.
Both media streamers work on pretty much everything, so chances are your devices will work with Kodi or Plex. Kodi’s open-source nature means there’s a way of uploading the software on most devices, but Plex has great compatibility too. In fact, there’s a version of Plex for the Xbox One and PS4, something not currently offered by Kodi.
Verdict: Plex wins. Although Kodi is compatible with pretty much everything, Plex is even better. Consoles such as the Xbox One and PS4 are already underneath our main TVs, and Plex’s ability to stream to them is a real advantage.
Kodi and Plex deliver streams, but how they do it is vastly different – and that can sometimes have an effect on performance. Plex stores all your files on a server and transcodes them at the same place, before sending them to the device you want to watch on. The bulk of the heavy-lifting is done by a larger PC, and that means Plex takes up less space and resources on your other devices, and can often have smoother HD streams.
In contrast, Kodi stores the files locally and does most of the work on the device on which you’re watching. That means smaller products such as the Chromecast, Fire TV Stick and Android phones may struggle.
Verdict: Plex wins. While Kodi tends to operate without a hitch, it can have issues with higher-resolution files – exactly the sort you’d want to watch. By outsourcing the work to larger computers, Plex can deliver buffer-free HD films without a hitch, whatever device you’re streaming on.
Kodi is free and open-source, but Plex is also free, unless you want some extra features. For £3.99 a month or £31.99 a year, Plex gives you access to everything from parental controls to the ability to download films to devices for offline play.
Verdict: A draw. Both services offer a good range of functionality for absolutely nothing, but if you do want to pay for it, Plex becomes a 360˚ solution for all your streaming needs.
Both streamers offer some really useful features, but they’re so evenly matched it comes down to personal preference. However, the way to compare them is to use the ongoing debate between Android and iOS. If you like to tinker and have control of every aspect your software, Android is great. But if you’d prefer something that’s hard to break and even easier to use, iOS is the system for you.
In the same way, tinkerers will love the freedom the open-source Kodi provides, while those who want something to just work are probably better off opting for Plex.
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