XBMC vs. Plex

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JazJon

I reccomend XBMC & Plex server together.

I use mymovies.dk for my whole library organization. (with enabled .nfo files for XBMC to scrape) Plex seems to pickup everything no problem as well. The key is having folders & files named to perfection.

I have multiple 3TB drives "pooled" into one giant drive thanks to stablebit.com/DrivePool. This means I only have 1 "Movies" folder and 1 "TV" folder to worry about.

I use combination of Windows Media Center (Windows 8 on my 2012 Mac Mini) & XBMC Frodo for my front end 10 foot experience while at home. I use Media Center for my Ceton CableCard Tuner DVR recordings. (since I'm not confident in XBMC PVR options yet, and the new HDHomeRun h.264 Prime isn't out yet)

I have Plex Server installed and use that for viewing via iPad/iPhone on the go, and can Mirror my output to friends Apple TV's or their XBMC setup.

For me that's the perfect blend. Everything is auto sorted and named to perfection via www.filebot.net
MyMovies database is Fantastic once you set it up.

For my needs, I don't see the benefit of hassle time messing with plexbmc. I'm ready to try a new PVR solution other than Media Center in the near future though. (Microsoft officially abandoned it recently, but it's still king as of 2013)

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linesma

I have used XBMC since 2007, and it is my preference for my HTPC. I use a Win 7 install where I have created 2 accounts. 1 account is for XBMC and the other is an Administrator account. On the XBMC account, I have replaced the Windows GUI with the XBMC interface. When I need to do updates, I log out of the XBMC Account, and go to the Administrator account. This setup, combined with the Motorola Nyxboard Hybrid Remote, has recieved the coveted WAF (Wife Approval Factor) award.

I have tried Plex, WMC, Mediaportal, and some others, but XBMC worked the best for me.

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ferds7

Has anyone used game emulators on either XBMC or Plex? I've been debating which of these two systems to hook up for a few weeks now. I just haven't had the time to do anything but read up on them.

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strangelove9

Let me ask you something else... Why are these GUIs necessary at all?
Once you have a HTPC running Win7/8, you already have an interface you're accustomed with. If you have a small multimedia keyboard like the ones from Lenovo, you're all set. Why is something like XBMC even necessary?

You can play any media format under the sun with VLC, and you can play any widespread audio with Winamp.

If you watch video, you're doing it in fullscreen, anyway, who cares what's underneath?

What exactly is the appeal of XBMC and its ilk?

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NotYetRated

I cannot speak to XBMC, but Plex I can.

I travel a ton. Plex allows me to keep all of my content at home, and I can stream it to myself via by Phone, Tablet, Laptop, a buddies smart TV.... Anywhere with a decent net connection allows me to stream all of my media. My girlfriend has access to all of my media while she is at school. Same goes for my brother.

At home, it categorizes all of my media for me automatically. It tracks which episodes of which show I have watched. It allows integration with my Netflix account to find and track shows available there. I never have to question where I left off in a series.

Its interface on my TV, is made for my TV. I do not want to navigate a little tree for my files. I prefer a nice, giant screen made for sitting on the couch and selecting media. The metadata is exceptional. I have not yet had an issue with it, as the author of this article has. With a quick set-up,(about an hour for the server and on all of my devices), I have access to all my media, organized and ready to go.

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Caboose

Troll harder, please.

While using VLC, WinAmp and other individual apps may be fine on a laptop or desktop, for a HTPC they're not the most user friendly. The small text is difficult to see while sitting on your couch, and I'd rather use a remote than a keyboard/mouse to control everything.

Yes, VLC plays everything, but unless you like opening up your network share or windows explorer to find what you want to watch, it doesn't cut it.

Oooo WinAmp will grab metadata, but you're still stuck looking through a file tree for your stuff.

When you use a HTPC, you don't want the "desktop experience". You want a media rich experience. Using individual apps that require a keyboard and mouse to properly control is not user friendly in the least. Sure, it may work for you, but you're a very tiny minority. Even huge heavy power users prefer having a nice, clean interface with ease of use. MediaBrowser, MediaPortal, XBMC and Plex all offer interfaces and experiences designed for a TV and to be used while sitting on your couch with a remote in your hand. Yes, you can use a keyboard and mouse, but that's not ideal nor is it the way they're intended to be used.

Yes, watching video is done fullscreen, but I like being able to resume my video at a later time, without leaving the video player paused. With the above mentioned apps, I can stop the video playback part way through, and come back to it at a later time and resume exactly where I left off. Even if I play something else, reboot the system or restart the program. Can't do that with VLC or WinAmp.

I want to be able to organize and catalog my media with easy to read titles and easy to see boxart. Can't do that with VLC or WinAmp.

I want to be able to browse for movies, or TV shows in similar categories. I want to be able to watch every TV show that Tina Fey has been in, regardless of show. Can't do that with VLC unless you already know beforehand what she's been in. With the above mentioned apps, since it grabs actor metadata, it does all the hard work for you.

I want to browse my media collection like I browse the guide on my PVR. With a remote, and easy to read titles and information. Can't do that with VLC or WinAmp.

I like to sit on my couch, feet up on the coffee table relaxing and just flick through stuff to watch, find something and then toss the remote on the table. With a keyboard and mouse it's so much more convoluted and cumbersome.

While VLC, WinAmp and the like are fine on your laptop or desktop where you're sitting there, hunched over and blank faced, using your keyboard and mouse, they do not work well on a HTPC, connected to a TV on the other side of the room.

If I had to guess, I'd say you read the title, and skipped to the comments without actually reading the article, and you failed to actually look up what these programs are designed to do and instead spout off nonsense.

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PCLinuxguy

I suppose if you're going to troll, you could also get into why set top boxes use similar UIs to let the user browse content in a intuative and easy to use fashion.

When watching on a TV while on the couch, I prefer the 10ft UI and artwork for my media and having it all "on demand" in a very nice package.

Sure people could keep consuming their media so crudely like you do like it's 1991 but it's 2013 and people expect more than that.

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strangelove9

The whole push for a "simple" interface reminds me of the Win8 Metro/Surface debacle. I wonder if the people who are likely to like one would also be fervent adopters of the other...

No, even though you might find it hard to believe, I wasn't "trolling", like you implied... Just merely curious about this XBMC fad. I did play with Windows Media Centre once (back in the Vista days, I might add!), and cannot find anything that would convince me it's better or simpler. On the contrary. It has fewer file compatibilities, and less granular controls. I was hoping you could provide some truly useful insight (in fact, just one of the answers did so, with the mention of simplified home streaming). The rest of the arguments seem to fall in the category of "bigger is better", or insults. Meh.

But perhaps it's all a cultural difference.

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PCLinuxguy

"But perhaps it's all a cultural difference." agreed. and I wasn't trying to be so terse either. I just find using WMC or third party apps like Plex or XBMC to be pretty similar as far as UI goes and if using just basic items works then go for it. I like the fanart tiles and banners in XBMC since it's on my TV and would rather not see the desktop, SUre there are media boxes out there but I like the pc for it's other abilities as well as longevity.

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Rabbanah

the 10 foot interface (bigger text, cover art, etc) does make it much easier to use. Also, it is for multiple pc/media box (roku, wdtv) set ups with dlna and such. In my own system, I have one HTPC running J.River media center with several terabytes of data, another htpc with just a small hard drive that streams off of it, and a wdtv live that streams off of it.

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Rabbanah

I realize this is talking about free media players, but if you're willing to cough up the $80, J. River media center has always been by favorite. It has all the functionality of both of these, and has always been super stable. I have a multi-htpc setup and one wdtv live.

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LGA1156

I use Win 7/wmc with a ceton infinitv 4 with a older quad core cpu, using some old HP X280n media extenders off ebay on it own dedicated switch. Its not quite cutting the cord but my Comcast bill is 118 a month, I get all my music and netflix and videos on tubecore, its great.

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evilanimator

Just wanted to mention that I have a Plex-based HTPC and I play DVDs on it just fine. While running the Plex Media Center, all I do is put a DVD in and Plex starts playing it automatically. During playback you can access the media menu (M key) and switch between menus, audio tracks, and subtitles. It has the same DVD playback capabilities as XBMC.

Also, I thought Plex had just as good, if not better, scraping abilities as XBMC. As mentioned in the article, you do need to have the media file names named properly. I have found that I get the best accuracy by matching the title verbatim from IMDb. If I have two versions of the same movie I just include the release year in the file name in parenthesis after the title. The Plex scraper is usually able to make an accurate determination from there and manages to get all of the proper artwork. I agree on the Plex Server software though. It is dog slow.

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huhhuh

I run WMCE on my main HTPC namely because it runs both of my XBx360 with live TV switching and guide.
It was all good until I found out the XB would never give me 5.1 out the streamed file and the only way to get that would be through PLEX app for Samsung smart TV.
That's my first experience with PLEX and I like it but the naming sucks. Almost to the point of not using it and instead watching only 2.0 audio.

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ddimick

I use OpenELEC (XBMC) for the main home theater screen and Plex to stream to handheld devices. For me, Plex is missing some important features I want on the big screen, like the ability to find and download subtitles.

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iceman600

Now if only PLEX can play netflix....

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AntiJohnny

if you feel like playing around, you can get it to work to a degree.

I worked around this issue by getting a roku for each TV. The Roku is extremely family friendly and has official channels for, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and PLEX.

On my main Home theater setup i have some higher end boxes for PLEX clients, but they generally only get used when I'm home. The family likes the Roku and i haven't heard one complaint about them yet. It was simple enough that my 3yr old had no issues figuring it out and going between the PLEX and Netflix channels.

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j_j_montez

I've been using Plex for a couple years. Currently the server is downstairs with 10 TB of storage. The server kicks out to 7 devices, and we love it. I started with Boxee, then XBMC. I switched to Plex because in my case it was "wife-friendly". I love the customization options in XBMC, but I need to consider the other people in the home. Thanks for this up-to-date comparison.

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AntiJohnny

Just thought i would mention that PLEX also has a Raspberry Pi client. Check out http://rasplex.com/ . It is still in alpha but it is actively being worked on and is very promising.
I personally never had the issues with my media being recognized, but i guess it all depends on how you had your files named to begin with.
I find PLEX to fit all of my needs, all the while being simple enought for the family to use it without issue. Even my In'laws down't have an issue running it on the Roku client off my server. I can't say enough good about PLEX.

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TrollBot5000

First off welcome back Brad!! I wasn't even aware of Plex so I'm installing it now. glad its a simple .deb file. I guess if I had a htpc I'd be more inclined to use xbmc more than I do but usually I just use vlc for movies and banshee for my music collection. For regular desktop use I find it a bit cumbersome to have a big full screen interface for a movie that requires xbmc to be shutdown to get back to the desktop. but again I'll reiterate that for a small living room pc xbmc is perfect. for me its alot easier just to have vlc on a seperate workspace for quick pausing and switching back to web browsing to satisfy my add tendencies. Ok so now plex is installed but I guess I missed the part about it being a web app. As soon as I brought up plex from my apps menu it brought up a new tab to add my media so yeah that just isn't my cup of tea. XBMC=HTPC VLC=desktop.

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jaygregz

You must have only downloaded the backend if your only seeing a browser. Plex Media Server (THE BACKEND) will pull up as a tab. If you want the fancy xbmc like gui or front end you download Plex Media Center.

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TrollBot5000

well I went to the site and clicked on plex for desktop and chose linux. then the 64bit ubuntu deb and installed it. clicked on the app and then it took me to a tab. ah ok now I see the media center but it seems the media center is only for windows and mac. theres no point in trying to wrap it with wine since xbmc works natively on linux. Oh well. wasn't really in the market for a new media solution anyway.

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