The ability to access media and view it on many different devices has become an expectation in today’s constantly on-the-go world. Kodi is one of the most popular applications that provide some of the best features due to it’s open-source. Although Kodi is popular and highly rated, it always useful to know what alternatives might be available.
At the top of the list of Kodi alternatives is Plex. Plex will take your existing collections of movies, music, pictures and pull it all together into one application. When you download the application, it will go through all of your media and automatically download it for you to reference later. This allows the user to see everything from the cast information to TV theme songs, synopses, etc.
One of the best features is the ability to stream media to remote devices like a PC or tablet. You don’t even have to worry about whether your device is capable of handling a specific format. For example, if your outdated PC is not able to handle a specific format, Plex will transition your media it a format that is compatible with your device. This also allows the application to overcome hardware limitations since bandwidth is optimized. This means that even an older or low powered PC can still take advantage of Plex’s features.
Another notable feature is the ability to pause a movie, TV show or even a song on one device and then continue it on different device. This is possible because media is stored on client server architecture so it is able to retain the stopping place.
Plex also has several channels that allow the end user access to several news and technology channels.
Platform Availability: MAC OSx, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Windows Phone, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox
Price: Free; Paid subscription begins at $4.99 per month for extra features.
Emby is another media application similar to Plex. It has the ability to take different types of media and organize it in a user-friendly interface so that the end user can easily find their favorite movies, television shows or any other digital media that they already own.
Emby also has streaming options and allows access to other existing subscriptions. This would be similar to the experience with Kodi or Roku. With this feature, DVR recordings can be viewed. It also has features like parental controls. Where this goes one step further though is that it can be accessed across multi-devices so media can be organized on one device and played on another because data is saved on a client server. This is the difference maker between Plex and Kodi since they both work optimally when one device is the main media center and just view content on other devices.
Another feature worth noting is that Emby and Kodi can be integrated together so that a user can take advantage of the feature / functionality of both applications. It’s important to note that Emby is open source so there are several plug-ins available. This is most likely why it is able to be interfaced so well with Kodi.
Finally, there is an option to upgrade to Emby Premiere with gives access to mobile sync and will pull in items like cover art or Rotten Tomato ratings. This feature also does backup and restores of the application.
Platform Availability: Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Linux (Desktop); Windows Phone (Mobile), Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Xbox
Price: Free, Paid subscription begins at $4.99 per month, for additional features.
A less popular option comparatively speaking, is the Media Portal application. There are not as many features available, but there are enough useful items that it is worth mentioning.
The most notable feature is the DVR functionality. This feature allows the end user to record and watch recordings from any device. It also allows access to Internet radio stations. The user interface is one of the easiest to use and visually appealing.
Media Portal is also open source like Emby, but it is only offered on Windows. Because it is open source though, there are several plug-ins available that offer functionality like watching YouTube videos. Compared to Kodi or Emby, the number of Add-ons pale in comparison. But since it is open source, those options will increase as more users begin to program them.
Platform Availability: Windows
Universal Media Server
Universal Media Server is going to be the basic, no-fuss media streaming option. The user interface is simple and it is easy to install and set up. The set up for Plex is easier though and more intuitive for users.
Like the other options, it can be used across many devices and will allow access to different media format without needing a ton of configuration. Like Emby, it will optimize the streaming options based on the network speed to eliminate limitations due slower devices.
Universal Media Server also has the options like plug-ins that allow the ability to pull information from IMDB or MediaMonkey. Beware though that the plug-ins available are not as well developed as Plex’s so there is a bit of a gamble of what you may be getting (although admittedly there are some really great hidden diamonds in the rough that might be discovered).
The downside is that Universal Media Server does not allow remote access so content cannot be viewed when not at home. The interface is not visually appealing either and art for thumbnails would need to be added manually.
Platform Availability: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux
Try Something Else Than Kodi
Kodi still has some of the best feature / functionality on the market especially with it’s add-on options and its ability to be compatible with several different devices. Even with those options, there is some great options out there that offer many of the same features. Since many of them are open source, the next brilliant add-on could be added to any of the above options at any time! Are you using other media player software applications that you’d like to to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.