Emby vs Plex — Which Is the Better Media Centre?

emby vs plex

If you find the offerings and performance of your cable service provider pesky and are a tyro in the cord-cutting and home media ecosystem, you might have to decide on which media centre is the best to use. This isn’t a straightforward problem to solve. As a matter of fact, there is really is no best media centre.

As you intensify your search for a robust platform, you will come across a slew of options.  However, the two most popular ones — Plex and Emby — will stay atop your search results. Emby, which is formerly called Media Browser, is a media server that is developed for organizing, playing, and streaming video and audio to various types of devices. On the other hand, Plex is a client-server media player system as well as software suite which consists of 2 primary components.  

Though for long, Plex and Kodi have held sway over the media centre landscape, Emby is growing in popularity among users as a good alternative. Which is the better media centre to select: Emby or Plex? Read on to find out.

Emby vs Plex — Initial (Client-Server) Setup

The 2 systems utilize a client/server setup, where you are required to install the server application on your PC or NAS drive on which you store your local media as well as the client application on a device that you want to use the content on.

Setting up the client software of the 2 apps is as straightforward as carrying out the installation of the program and supplying a code. Where the process will get complicated is when you are trying to set up the server software.

The process on Emby is more complicated than the one on Plex. Speaking broadly, it is mainly targeted at the mass market as well as non-tech-savvy users.

For instance, while designing a movie library on Emby, you will come across advanced options like whether to allow chapter image extraction or not, and whether to have metadata images downloaded in advance or not. While experienced users may find such settings quite straightforward, newbies may feel otherwise.

Emby vs Plex — Cost-Effectiveness

The 2 applications feature a premium plan. Both of them offer extra features, making them appealing. While some users may not fancy a Plex Pass, the option costs $14.99 for 3 months, or $119.99 if you choose a lifetime subscription. Emby’s Premiere option offers similar prices, with the monthly plan setting you back by $4.99 per month and the lifetime subscription by $119.

Emby vs Plex — Customization Options

The level of customization available in Kodi is one of the better features it has in comparison Plex, and Emby also shares this edge. If you prefer to play around endless settings and tweak the user interface to your own style and needs, Emby is your best bet.

If you are armed with the technical knowledge, you will be able to apply your own CSS to the Emby web application, introduce some changes to the login screen, make use of themes of other people, and tinker several other things. You can’t do any of these on Plex.

Emby vs Plex — Navigation Experience

Plex is the more polished option of both due to its more substantial budget. As a result of this, it won’t be unfair to state that it provides a more pleasant and simple-to-use navigation experience. It is not as if Emby’s navigation is iffy, but Plex just has a more professional appeal.

Emby vs Plex — Live TV & DVR Option

The 2 apps come with a live TV and DVR offering. Though Plex’s Live TV option is restricted to users on the premium plan, users can watch free live TV through Emby’s web application; however, you have to subscribe to Premiere in order to watch it on any other device.

Apparently, some design differences exist in both — for instance, the integrated electronic program guide, EPG, of Plex. But concerning functionality, the 2 of them are virtually identical.

However, Plex once again has an advantage over Emby with respect to supported equipment. Emby only offers support for the HDHomeRun tuner natively as well as Hauppauge devices running on the Windows platform. Plex features support for HDHomeRun, AVerMedia, Hauppauge, and DVBLogic. On Emby, to add support for other tuners, use a live TV plugin.

Emby vs Plex — Who Wins the Battle?

Emby is a great app with a range of interesting features and capabilities. So it deserves a lot of praise for slugging it out with Plex in this comparison review. But arguing that Plex is not the better of the two solutions is quite hard as the app provides more native features, offers support for more external devices, and gives users a smoother experience. It also comes with a more polished and professional-looking user interface.


Posted by Deji

Deji is a freelance writer and Physics graduate from the University of Ibadan. Passionate and meticulous, he is a keen follower of developments around the world on a number of issues ranging from science, tech, history, politics, among others. Deji loves playing football and meeting people. Please, follow on Twitter and Facebook

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