Emby also know as Media Browser is a service/application that allows you to stream your local media content such as music, photos, movies, TV recordings, home movies, etc. to multiple devices on your local network and also outside your local network. Emby is very similar to Plex and vice versa, for both you install a “server” application that’s linked to an online account that provides authentication, etc. You can access your local media content through the online account portal or bypass it and connect directly to your computer with Emby installed. The local media content must be available either by having the source/server/back-end on or syncing the content to the cloud.
Emby is free, unlike Plex which limits some of the features available unless you have a paid account; this is the biggest difference between the two services. Emby accepts donations which will grant you access to some various “supporter” plugins but these aren’t essential, in fact I only recently donated after using the product for a few years. The only other cost that I should mention is the increased bandwidth usage when streaming local media content outside your local network.
You’ll want to check out Emby’s system requirements page here. You’ll need to install Emby Server first which is the application that makes your local content available also called “the back-end” while the Emby app on your mobile device is referred to as “the front end” which is where you watch/listen/etc. to your content. Depending on “the front end” device you’ll be using “the back-end” server might need to transcode the content so that your device can handle it; this will be the different between just meeting the requirements vs exceeding them when it comes to the server.
If you plan to stream outside your local network you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a fast upstream internet connection.
This is where Emby sets itself apart from Plex in my opinion, the available options in regards to setting notifications, metadata, auto-organization of content and the list goes on. Emby’s plugin library is huge and keeps growing not only with paid items but also free stuff. Here’s just some of the plugins available:
- Theme songs
- Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
- Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive sync
- and more
Live TV & DVR Functionality
If you’ve got a TV tuner then Emby is the right choice for you as it works with NextPVR, DVBLink, EmbyTV, TVHeadEnd, Vu+, Media Portal and ServerWMC. If there’s one thing that sets Emby apart from Plex its the TV tuner integration; I’ve got Emby setup with ServerWMC and here’s what it looks like from any browser or supported application such as on your mobile device –
I’m able to set recordings, setup series recordings and even watch live TV. Emby will even sort, rename and attach metadata after I record something.
Plex or Emby?
Personally I use a Plex and Emby and for some it’s a fanboy situation similar to Android vs Apple fanboys. Emby has put a real focus on the Live TV aspect while Plex sorta lacks in the area.
Did I miss something? Questions? Feel free to comment below or visit the Emby Forum we’ve setup here.