This guide shows you Plex vs Kodi. In this guide, we put Kodi up against Plex to reveal to you the biggest differences. Use this walk-through to see who should use which media streaming system (or how to use both!):
Plex vs Kodi: Summary
The basic difference between Kodi and Plex is that Plex is focused on playing “local” content, while Kodi is more focused on playing streaming content.
Depending on what type of TV / movie-lover you are, you will find benefits and drawbacks in the Plex vs Kodi debate. Therefore, instead of just outright deciding the “Winner” in the “Plex vs Kodi” debate, we give you this detailed look of each one so you can decide for yourself.
So use the Plex and Kodi app walk-throughs below to explore these two great media centers and decide for yourself which to use:
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What is Plex?
Plex is an extremely popular online service that allows its users to stream their content on any device, from anywhere in the world.
- The Plex service is centered around the Plex app, which is available for PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Amazon FireStick & Fire TV (as a native app), yadda yadda – all major operating systems.
Here’s a screenshot of the Plex app browsing through the Plex media server, using a Windows 10 PC:
What is Kodi?
- The Kodi media platform is based around the Kodi app, which – similar to Plex – is available for every major operating system (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, FireStick, etc).
- Plex is operated by a private company that invests time and money resources into providing a service that has “corporate-backed” feel, similar to Netflix.
- It’s very easy to install Plex on FireStick (by using the Amazon App Store), Android (Google Play Store), or any other streaming device (even iPhone – just use Apple iTunes App Store). In fact, installing Plex is even easier than installing Kodi. This is a fact, since Kodi is not available in Amazon’s App Store (but Plex is!). So, installing Plex on FireStick or any other device is simply a matter of finding Plex in the device’s respective app store and pressing “Install”.
- After you buy a Plex Pass (around $10/mo), you can stream HD media from anywhere in the world. Basically, this makes a secure media server which you can connect to when you’re home, or not at home! Yes, you can use your smartphone and tablet to watch movies & TV shows with Plex. Or connect an HDMI cable to your laptop, then connect the other end to your HDTV!
- Plex is only partially open source (see details below)
- There aren’t nearly as many TV Addons available for Plex. In fact, there’s really just the main Plex service, which allows you to stream content from your own media library. Additionally, there are Plex “channels” that are similar to YouTube playlists. These Plex channels pull-in content from around the web similar to Kodi, but are not as far-reaching in their diversity of content.
- Kodi is limitless. Why? Because hundreds of Kodi addons are available for you to install. This fact alone makes Kodi the clear winner in the “expandability” category of our Plex vs Kodi breakdown. These Kodi “plugins” significantly increase the access you have to streaming TV and movies. Many third-party addons are available, which “scrape” streaming content from various sources around the Internet. Or just use Kodi for already well-known streaming services, like Crackle or YouTube (or even Pandora!).
- The Kodi platform is fully open-source, in contrast to Plex being only partially open-source.
- The Kodi media platform is more for “techies” than for “newbies”. Why? Because the Kodi app is updated on a regular basis – and some of these updates (like Kodi 17.1 Update) are mandatory. So if you want to use Kodi, be warned that it’s best suited for people who are comfortable with installing apps and things like that. If you’re someone who’s not familiar with the Internet, you may have a difficult time when you try to install Kodi on FireStick, for example.
Is Plex Open Source?
Yes and no. There are two layers of “Plex” software: the “host” layer and the “client” layer. The “host” layer is open-source.
- The “host” layer is open-source and interacts with your operating system, plays music and video, and loads up the user interface via a Chromium browser process
- Plex’s “client” layer is not open-source, and serves as the HTML5-based web-client. This layer is responsible for communicating with the Plex.TV service, communicating with your media server, and rendering the User Interface you see on your screen / TV / monitor
- The Plex software license is GPLv2
Use Both Plex and Kodi!
So, why not use both Plex and Kodi? Use Kodi and Plex to get the best of both worlds, since each one is simply just another app you install on your streaming device (such as Amazon FireStick, which supports Plex and Kodi).
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Kodi is the overall winner for general content playback, such as streaming movies & TV shows.
But Plex offers us a more consistent, user-friendly experience. Plex also enables you to more-or-less “decide” what you want on your media server, so you can add and remove movies, TV shows, and music as you see fit. In contrast, Kodi has a constantly-changing environment (for example: the new Kodi 17.1 update is mandatory!). So Plex does offer a more “regular” environment for streaming movies and TV shows, but it lacks the “expandability” of Kodi (aka XBMC).
How to Use Both Kodi and Plex
(My Personal Recommendation:)
Instead of deciding a “winner” in the Plex vs Kodi argument, use both! It is completely fine to have both the Kodi app and the Plex app installed on all of your streaming devices (such as Fire Stick).