I know you love Kodi. I do too. But there’s a reason people keep switching to Plex: it’s better.
I know: the two products aren’t directly comparable. Kodi is a local media player, while Plex has a server-and-client model. The initial Plex setup is complex, and kind of confusing at first. The Plex add-on ecosystem isn’t as robust as Kodi’s, and a lot of Plex’s best features are locked behind a premium subscription paywall.
And still, as time goes on, I’ve noticed more and more of my friends—some of whom have written about Kodi professionally for years—are switching over to Plex for watching stuff. Are they crazy?
No. Plex really is that good. Here are a few reasons why.
Plex Keeps Everything In Sync, Easily
If you watch everything on one device, Kodi works perfectly. If you have multiple devices, however, Kodi is going to make you work for it.
First, you need to mount network shares and add all of your stuff to each of your devices. Next, assuming you want to keep your “watched” status in sync, you’ll need to set up MySQL and connect Kodi to it. Give that article a read, then tell us it’s a viable setup for the average user.
With Plex, by contrast, setting up a Plex server is a one-time thing. After you’ve added your movies, TV shows, and music, you can log in from any other device and all your stuff is there. Even better, you can watch stuff on your Plex server outside your home network with only a little bit of configuration. You don’t even need a dedicated client. You can log in from any web browser and start watching.
None of this is impossible with Kodi, but it’s a lot easier to do with Plex, and you don’t have to worry about updates breaking everything. Of course this doesn’t matter if you do all your TV watching on one device, which is fair enough. But that’s an increasingly small number of people.
Plex Offers an Actually Integrated PVR System
Kodi offers live TV and PVR functionality—sort of. You have to set up a third party PVR program, and then connect it to Kodi. We explained how to set up NextPVR with Kodi, for example, but there are many other applications you can use for the job. Even when you’re done, the PVR doesn’t really feel like it belongs in Kodi. Your recordings live in a separate database than the rest of your TV shows and movies, meaning you can’t browse everything at once.
Plex’s PVR is easy to set up, meanwhile, and fully integrates recorded content with the rest of your library. It’s easy to manage your recordings from anywhere, too. Just log into Plex on any device, using the official client or even a web browser.
And it gets better. You can skip adds in NextPVR and Kodi using Comskip, but the setup is convoluted. You can do the same thing in Plex with a single checkmark in the settings.
Plex Offers Better and More Streamlined Cross Platform Access
Plex offers official clients for devices on which Kodi can’t run (like Roku), or devices that you have to hack in order to run Kodi (like Apple TV). This means you can use Plex without replacing your current streaming boxes.
This doesn’t matter if you’ve already got a house full of Raspberry Pi boxes running Kodi, provided you’re willing to do the work outlined above. With Plex you don’t have to. Seeing as the cheapest Roku costs $30, which is cheaper than Pi after buying the peripherals, it doesn’t cost much to access your media on multiple TVs using Plex.
To be fair, Kodi runs on many platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi all work great. There’s also an Android version, which looks and functions the same as the desktop version. Some people may like this: why should the mobile version be different? Plus there’s a touch-based skin, which helps a little.
The problem with this approach is that it’s not streamlined. Plex, meanwhile, offers mobile apps that feel and function like mobile apps. You can play media on your phone, or you can use your phone as a remote for some other device. Even better, there’s an official version of Plex for iPhone, something Kodi can’t offer as of this writing.
Even on the desktop, Plex is more flexible. It can function either as a mouse-and-keyboard interface for both managing and watching your collection, or you can use a remote-driven full screen interface that focuses just on the watching. The mouse-and-keyboard interface is a much easier tool for managing your media collection, in my opinion. Give it a shot and see if you agree.
Sharing Is Caring
It’s really easy to share your Plex library with family and friends, and in turn for them to share libraries with you. It’s hard to overstate how awesome this is, and Kodi doesn’t offer anything like it.
Plexamp Is a Great Desktop Music Player
The Plex team launched Plexamp back in December, and I really love it. You can play all the music on your Plex server using a simple and beautiful interface that stays out of your way. It’s arguably the best iTunes alternative out there right now.
Can’t Decide? Make Plex and Kodi Work Together.
I understand if this doesn’t make you want to quit Kodi. I haven’t quit Kodi altogether, either. There are some things Kodi does very well. The interface is fully customizable, and the add-on ecosystem is extensive, to name just a couple.
Happily, you can combine the best of both worlds by using Kodi to watch your Plex library. It takes a little setting up, but gives you the best of both worlds. Give it a shot if you’re even a little Plex-curious.
Photo credit: Concept Photo/Shutterstock.com
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