MythTV, Kodi, Plex, OSMC, and DVBLink tested

Modular

Kodi is strictly modular, and the system fully integrates additional functions with corresponding add-ons (e.g., a weather display that accesses data from a meteorological service on the Internet). With the use of add-ons, you can integrate multimedia codecs, online libraries, streaming services, and YouTube videos. A separate Add-ons submenu appears in the main menus for the Pictures, Videos, and Music entries, which you can use to install or disable extensions depending on the context.

The main menu runs horizontally across the screen and adjusts dynamically according to the existing functionalities: If you start an audio CD, the associated playback controls will appear automatically in the main GUI. Kodi can also play Blu-ray discs on HD screens with no problems.

Correct Settings

The most important basic settings for the media center are hidden in the System menu. The Settings submenu bundles all the settings together, and the File Manager and Profiles entries let you take care of ongoing administrative tasks, such as creating/naming/moving folders and defining paths, and create user profiles with user-specific settings. A System info viewer and an event viewer round off the interface.

Plex Media Server

Although the basic version of Plex Media Server is free, it is under a proprietary license, and additional services are subject to charge. The software, which is similar to Kodi, is available for free download at about 110MB for 32-bit and 64-bit Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS packages [14].

The server can also be used for other platforms and for network-attached storage (NAS) systems. Additionally, the manufacturer provides excellent documentation with a very detailed hardware compatibility list [15]. Like Kodi and MythTV, the Plex Media Server can also be supplemented with a client version that is also available for free download as a Plex home theater. Furthermore, you can access and control the server on an intranet from a web interface.

The precompiled packages are installed easily and create a Sound & Video | Plex Media Manager entry in the menu structure. The server starts automatically via a graphical interface for the web browser on localhost. The dashboard is very clearly structured and requires no learning curve.

You can then make further adjustments by clicking on the Settings icon in the upper right corner. However, some options can only be changed if you have a user account with Plex. Certain services can also only be enabled using a fee-based Plex Pass, including offline use of the Plex server with mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, image uploads on mobile systems, cloud synchronization, and multiuser mode at a cost of $5 per month or an annual subscription of $40. A lifelong subscription costs around $150.

The Plex Media Server is strikingly different from the other media centers. For example, the application works well with cloud synchronization. The program also has an interface for transcoding content, which allows it to convert files into other formats. However, these functions depend on the hardware, especially for video editing, and require an implemented encoder in the hardware.

If you want to convert HD (720p or 1280x720) or even FHD (1080p or 1920x1080) material on NAS systems with Atom or Celeron CPUs, it is only possible to a limited extent or not at all because of the increased computational overhead. Older Atom processors aren't even good enough to transcode SD (480p or 720x480) video material.

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