XMBC vs Plex or Both?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by mborosch, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. mborosch macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2011
    Hello All, I'm new here.....

    I've been reading up on Jailbreak for the ATV2 looks pretty easy, I think seasonpass is the way to go.

    I've also been reading up on XMBC and Plex, and how to install them, but what I don't understand is, what is the difference between XMBC and Plex and can you run both?

  2. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    They are similar, however, in my opinion plex is by far more versatile. XBMC works well however, if you try to play any 1080p videos the ATV2 cannot handle them well. However if you use plex the hosting server will transcode it so the Apple TV will play smoothly. Also the play count being tied into one server for all devices to update and to update easily is by far the best.
  3. jackrv macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2011
    Plex is basically a "fork" of XBMC. (So is Boxee, for example) Plex adds a media server (not open-source) that runs in the background to manage your library. There may be some plug-ins that are available for one and not the other, but at the core, they are based on the same software. On a Mac, I definitely prefer Plex. All I can say is try them both out. You can do it on a Mac before you jailbreak your ATV to see what they both are like.

    That said, I do not have an ATV (yet.. Christmas :) ) But Plex vs XBMC vs (other derivative) is your choice. Some have plugins and skinning that the others don't.

    Also, I am not sure if the ATV2 (iOS-based) can do this. I know the ATV1 can, but others far more knowledgeable than me can chime in here.
  4. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    as far a "trying it out on a mac" that's really not appropriate, as they're both completely different animals on iOS.

    plex was a fork of XBMC, it's been re-written with most of the same functionality, but most of the code is now different.

    The big difference now is that Plex runs using a Client / Server model.
    This means that you must be running a server (windows, OS X, or Linux) to use it. There are clients for OS X, android, and iOS, as well as a newly released windows client (also roku, googletv, and some new LG tvs and Blu-ray players)

    The server will take any incompatible files and convert them on the fly to something playable on the client device, or stream the file directly if the client can handle it.
    because of this, you can watch a raw blu-ray rip using Plex, I'm guessing if you tried to do that with XBMC, it wouldn't be that smooth.

    also one perk of this, is i can watch a program on my living room tv using a Mac mini, i can stop in the middle, and pick up in the same place on the AppleTV in the bedroom, stop that, and move anywhere and pick up on either the iphone or ipad (even from outside my home network, but the picture isn't that great due to bandwidth)

    for Plex to work, your server must be running, and depending on what you're trying to stream must have a decent processor in it.

    for XBMC to work, you only need access to the files, so if you have a NAS, you don't need a computer running.
  5. jvmxtra macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    xbmc - relies on atv to decode the media. Which means video can choke if it requires heavy decoding.
    Seems to have more plugins(e.g., hulu plugin)

    plex -- relies on server side to decode the media. Potentially all video can play very smoothly on atv..
  6. mborosch thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2011
  7. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
  8. toolbox macrumors 68020


    Oct 6, 2007
    Australia (WA)
    XBMC for me!, have it running on old Apple TV works a treat.
  9. Sku11y macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    I prefer using Plex but unfortunately I was unable to get DTS 5.1 to work so I use XBMC.
  10. clarkie604 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2010
    You hear a lot of people on here complaining that Plex requires your computer to be on running a server all the time. I don't think this is a disadvantage - I think it's a great advantage. All of your devices access the same database of movies. You only have to set up your movie metadata once and if you stop in your living room you start at the right spot in your bedroom or on your phone. Plus, setting up metadata is a breeze - completely automated. Plex is designed to make everything easy. XBMC is designed to play everything you want. It is almost impossible to get XBMC to get metadata for a large library on ATV.

    Plus, a recent revision of Plex incorporated the current stable XBMC build - so its movie-playing engine is essentially XBMC.
  11. Killerbob macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2008
    I am using XBMC Eden RC2 (with Cirrus Ext. Skin) right now, but will take a look at Plex. I have all my media files on a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer, and there is an add-on for that system, which acts like a Plex Server.

    I think XBMC is pretty awesome, but have an open mind, and will see what Plex can do.

  12. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    As far as I know, both Plex and XBMC use TheTVDB and The MovieDB as standard scrapers. What makes Plex better at scraping info than XBMC?
  13. maturola macrumors 68040


    Oct 29, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Yes, I got both, I used Plex 90% of the time, I used it to watch my local content , Movies and TV Shows. I like PLex interface better, it looks like the ATV stock UI, and it shown my content more TV like and less Computer OS directory like.

    I use XBMC for the plugins that don't work on Plex yet. Hulu, Livestreams, Music and some Adult channels.
  14. clarkie604 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2010
    With Plex, the server is on your computer and you have the horsepower of your computer to run the scraper software, download metadata and pics, and organize everything. With XBMC, your Apple TV has to do that and I've always had bad results. There may be a way to set up metadata for XBMC from your computer, but I couldn't figure out how to do it and Plex does it seemslessly and easily.

    Another point in favor of Plex is that you can play Plex content through the Plex app on an iOS devise on your Apple TV via AirPlay. No jailbreak required.
  15. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    "Horsepower" could theoretically make the scraping faster, not better...
  16. Killerbob macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2008
    ...and the server part being separate is not necessarily a plus. I have a Mac Mini connected to my stereo/TV, running XBMC. If I was using Plex I would have both the server and the client running on the Mac Mini, and that doesn't make sense.

    I tried running the Plex add-on on my ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer, and it was too poor, compared to XBMC;

    - In cases where I have a file A and a file B for the same movie in one single folder, XBMC picks it up as a single movie, but Plex sees them as two individual films.
    - In XBMC I can use whatever I want (IMDB) for scraping, in Plex I can only use Cine21 and Freebase.

    Perhaps the full blown Plex server is better, and I am still playing around with Plex on ReadyNAS, but thus far, 1-0 to XBMC.

    Also, I seem to be able to adjust a bunch of more things in XBMC. Of course that is not necessarily good, but for me, it is great.

  17. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
  18. 321estrellas, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012

    321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    Everyone's mileage may vary but here's my experience:

    I JB'd my ATV2 (4.4.4) and installed XBMC but it would constantly crash during any movie I try to watch. I spent HOURS trying to downgrade my ATV2 firmware but kept getting the "device isn't eligible" error even after trying to change the hosts file. My friend uses XBMC flawlessly with an older firmware and build but I can't seem to downgrade. I upgraded XBMC to the latest nightly build and still experienced a crash. I was ready to give up XBMC and maybe Apple TV altogether...

    Then I thought about encoding my MKVs to MP4 so I gave it a try and it took over an hour to do and I didn't want to do that for every movie I get.

    Today I installed Plex, and haven't experienced a crash yet (though I haven't watched a whole movie beginning to end yet, but probably 30-45 minutes worth).

    So if you are having issues with XBMC and haven't tried Plex before, give Plex a shot.

    EDIT: One issue I seem to be having with Plex now is when I fast forward a movie and press play again, the timer goes and the audio plays, but no video plays. Seems to happen with certain videos only.

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