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As media servers for playing media files, both Emby and Plex come highly recommended. So, if that is the case, how would you choose between them? In this guide, we will look at the features of each server so that you are able to make an informed judgment and the most suitable choice for your needs.
Emby Vs. Plex at a glance
- Less connection and playback issues once setup
- Customize home screens and curate libraries
- $4.99 per month or $54 for a year
- May not support all hardware accelerations
- Less friendly setup for new users
- Fewer features on freeware
- $4.99 per month or $39.99 for a year
- User-friendly for new users
- More features on freeware
- Fewer customization options
- Can only present 450 TV Channels
- Less flexibility to apply plugins
Editor’s choice: Control over the database and support for plugins may just give Emby the edge along with ease of use and the ability to customize
What Are The Main Differences Between Emby And Plex?
There is very little difference between the cost of either device. Both are $4.99 per month with a year’s membership for Emby just $14 more than Plex. The lifetime membership is the same at $119 for both providers.
The free versions of both Emby and Plex both provide the server and app. There is access to media full playback on non-mobile, public apps such as PC and mobile browser, Roku, Apple TV, and Smart TVs.
Mobile apps on Android are restricted to one-minute playback only. Plex will also support full playback on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and games consoles, whilst playback on Emby is limited.
Plex also offers ad-supported Movies and TV free to all users, along with Plex News, Podcasts, and Web Shows.
Editor’s choice: Costs are comparable for both servers, although there are more apps and playback supported on the free version of Plex than Emby.
With the paid subscription for Emby, you will have access to Cinema Mode exclusively. This mode will give you trailers and custom intros before your films to give you that real movie experience in the comfort of your own home. Whilst this feature has little or no impact with regards to overall functionality, it certainly is a fun addition for users.
There is also more opportunity to customize the user interface on Emby in general. However, with Plex, you will get the very popular ‘Unsupported App Store’ within which you can access extra channels for additional content.
There is also the opportunity to go straight to your favorite show via a centralized search function. Plex is easier to use and set up in general than Emby.
Editor’s choice: For an authentic cinema experience and customization, Emby comes out tops, although Plex is more user-friendly for newbies.
Emby is an open-source platform which means that everything you do will be stored on your own server and will be untracked by Emby. You can even use Emby whilst disconnected from the internet. You will still need an internet connection for remote streaming, as is the case for all other web-based streaming devices.
Conversely, Plex will collect your user information; this data collection is to improve services, as declared by Plex itself.
Editor’s note: If you are uncomfortable with how your personal streaming data may be used, then Emby will afford you more privacy.
Plex is the most convenient of the two platforms when it comes to streaming content from the internet. It allows users to stream multiple devices using just one account, playing different content on each of the devices if appropriate.
Streaming can be allowed through the use of web apps and smart TVs, although streaming to android devices will require a subscription to premium services.
Verdict: Plex takes the lead over Emby in this case
The ability to stream content whilst away from home can be a very useful function. Media access through the premium features on both platforms is possible.
Once your subscription is active, then any required content can be downloaded and saved to watch at a later date or when offline. In the case of both Emby and Plex, content can be accessed from the server.
Remote streaming on Plex can be accessed from the menu.
Verdict: It’s a tie
You can access content on Emby through its web app, smart TV, Apple TV and Roku. In order to access content via Android TV, Android or iOS devices, and Amazon Fire TV, you would need to pay to unlock that particular feature.
With Plex, you will be able to have access to all content on all the devices on your network.
Verdict: Plex takes the lead for network streaming.
Plex is compatible with Windows and Mac and can display content on more than one device at the same time. Emby is compatible with desktops and computers of different types.
Both platforms support Dockers and NAS although Sonos and Android auto are only compatible with Plex.
Verdict: Both platforms support multiple devices although Plex has a slight advantage in that content can be streamed on multiple devices and it supports Sonos and Android auto.
Other media display platforms such as Kodi, generally use the server setup mode. However, both Emby and Plex use the client setup to access content. If you intend to access the content across many devices, then you will need to install the application. Computer and NAS drives will also require an app to access the server.
Set up is generally easy to install and any codes needed for connection will be generated as necessary.
When it comes to setup in general, the process on Plex is more straightforward and therefore gives it an edge over Emby in this respect. Both platforms have settings navigation bars that will allow you to change the size of your viewing screen.
Emby offers some advanced effects such as chapter image extraction to be used when creating movies.
Verdict: For ease of use, Plex has the edge although Emby does have some cool movie-making effects.
Installation is almost identical for both Plex and Emby although there are some visible differences when it comes to post-installation configuration. As previously mentioned, Plex is more suited to beginners or those new to streaming platforms.
After installation, the interface on Emby is more complex and this can cause difficulties for new users trying to access the services. For Plex users, there is a step-by-step procedure that greatly simplifies the process.
Verdict: Plex takes the edge for ease of installation.
Live TV and DVR Support
Emby supports fewer tuners than Plex. However, Plex can only utilize only one physical tuner at a time as opposed to Emby, which can support more than one simultaneously.
There is a limited number of available channels available on Plex, unlike Emby, through which there is no limit to the number of available channels.
Verdict: Personal choice will ultimately prevail here dependent upon your requirements – more tuners and fewer channels with Plex or fewer tuners and unlimited channels with Emby.
Third-party extension support
Third-party extensions are supported on Plex allowing you to expand your available media selection. These channels can be directly downloaded from the main dashboard.
Emby also supports third-party extensions although they are called Plugins. These can also be downloaded directly from the server dashboard. There seems to be a higher number of extensions available on Plex than Plugins on Emby.
Editor’s choice: If you want a higher number of third-party extensions, Plex is the marginal winner here.
Both Plex and Emby offer a comprehensive streaming package and both have a number of common features between them. As with all apps and streaming devices, what works for one user will not appeal to another similarly.
Knowing your needs and requirements beforehand and taking the time to assess what each platform can do to accommodate those needs will help you to make an informed choice. Plex has been around for longer and is a trusted and popular provider. However, Emby provides strong competition with its comparable service.
If you are new to streaming, perhaps Plex is the way to go in regards to its ease of use for beginners. But if you want the ability to customize, then Emby will be able to provide that for you.
Having said all of that, whilst customization is great, it doesn’t actually have much impact on performance. So, when weighing up the two platforms, Plex would be the favorable choice and a good all-rounder for streaming your favorite content.