Plex Vs XBMC



I originally started out using Boxee, years and years ago, but switched to Plex. I can’t say that I’ve ever really tried XBMC, but I’ve had such a good run with Plex that I doubt that I’d ever change.

I know my setup isn’t ideal in many ways, but it works.


  • TV LG 42" 720P LCD that’s at least 7 years old
  • 2009 Mac Mini 2GHz Core 2 Duo 4GB RAM running Lion (because it is only 32bit (and yes I know it’s only utilising 3.5GB of the RAM))
  • NASs for storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Timecapsule (for Wifi)
  • Billion ADSL2+ router (alternate Wifi)
  • 2011 15" MacBook Pro
  • iPad 2
  • iPhone 5
  • ASUS 15" Laptop (fiancé’s)
  • 7yo Desktop PC


  • PMS and PHT both running on the Mac Mini
  • PHT on MBP, ASUS and Desktop
  • iOS Plex App

I know technically I could run PMS on one of my NAS, but I’d rather not force it to deal with the overhead. I know the Mini can sometimes struggle with some of the higher quality 1080 RIP’s I have in my collection, but considering my TV is only 720p, I’m not really too worried about it.
At some point I’ll upgrade the Mac Mini and the TV, but can’t afford to do that at the moment.


So far from reading this post, I haven’t seen a valid reason not to just use the AppleTV hooked up to iTunes. What am I missing here…?


Not everyone wants to use an AppleTV?


For media not purchased through iTunes, it requires significant effort to get movie/TV show details attached.
The there is the issue of file formats…
For PLEX, it just works — it automatically downloads show details, artwork, etc and plays all(?) dil formats with no issue.


Translation: if you’re a dirty pirate who lives outside of the iTunes ecosystem, then Plex is the unparalleled solution for getting your media on all your devices.

shrugs It’s why I use it, anyway.


I only asked because what seems to be quite common is that people are still using the ATV somewhere in their setup.

Fair enough. Personally, I use iVI to do this. It picks up anything downloaded to a folder that I nominate (or multiple folders), converts to whatever format is required by iTunes (MP4 I think?) while adding metadata from either The TVDB & The MovieDB (or Tag Chimp if you prefer), then drops it into iTunes (or your nominated folder).
All TV stuff is auto downloaded using SickBeard and SabNZBD+. I used to use Couch Potato for movies but never had a great deal of success so now I just download them as I remember.
Basically the way I’m running is 98% hands free which is just the way I like it (as does my wife)

We just have 3 x ATV’s around the house and it works for us. Of course, this is just my way of doing things but I’m always open to alternatives which is why I asked if I was missing something :smile:



I have tried Automatic (preference pane) and TVShows with a BT client in the past. Never installed Sickbeard, etc as I do not use/have a Usenet account.

ivi sounds interesting for iTunes — I still prefer the way Plex works… except when putting stuff on an iPad for travel


Sickbeard can also work with torrents, not just Usenet.


The Apple TV still has its use as an AirPlay device (and a Plex client).

The second half of your post pretty much explains why many use Plex over iTunes, simplicity that isn’t found elsewhere. I have TV Shows auto download and dumped into a folder on my Plex server called _new. Every now and again I’ll move them shows into their own folders but that’s just an OCD thing, Plex keeps track of things so well that it isn’t even needed.


Looks like Plex for Xbox One will be in beta soon :smiley:


Must be just me, but I don’t see any benefit of one over the other from what I’m seeing here.
The only real difference I can see is that iTunes is “managing” my media once it has the meta data embedded in the file, whereas Plex is looking in a folder that you designate for the media then adding the metadata as an overlay on the fly.
Might have to have a play with Plex one of these days and see what I find


One benefit of Plex is that it will transcode on the fly to suit the capabilities of the client.
So one backend (my Mac mini) can transcode to suit the capabilities of the 4 Apple devices and the 4 Android devices that I use it with - as well as transcode to suit the available bandwidth.
e.g. I can go away for the weekend to visit family, and watch content from my Plex server at home.

Also, if you have a friend with a Plex server and a suitable internet connection (unmetered uploads for example) you can share Plex servers with each other.


Thanks iain, now it makes a bit more sense.



how do you find PlexConnect on the ATV3?

any issues in setting up? If it’s pretty easy and stuff I think I might cash in on my ATV2.

also if you have the plexpass can you stream offline content to it? (eg: say you went to a mates house and connected to their wifi network and streamed straight to their ATV plexconnect?)


If you can follow the instructions provided on the PlexConnect wiki, it’s pretty straightforward.

[quote=“lenjet, post:34, topic:259”]
can you stream offline content to it?
[/quote]Don’t know, never tried. Someone else may be able to answer this one.


Plex, although the recent updates have added a lot of functionality they have made it more complex to use - Not ideal.

Not sure if anyone is struggling with the same issues (Forced login, forced plex account, auto network discovery not working etc)

Server : Mac Mini Server/quad i7 with SSD boot + Spinny backup
Storage : OWC Thunderbolt + ~14tb worth of disks

Amazon FireTV
Xbox One
iPads + iPhones.


I’ve been using a WDTV Live since last year (since Goodbye put me on to them over on MacTalk). I’ve been investigating alternatives recently since WDTVs all over the world have suddenly started going on the fritz (cause of which still uncertain at time of writing).

The thing that I’ve found frustrating is the lack of support for deeply nested folders. The AppleTV is the worst. But Plex also seems very limited - can do folder for the program, subfolder for the season, and then the names of each episode (no matter what their title, they’re just listed as “episode 1” etc), and that’s it. XBMC’s similar, I think?

It’s just so limiting. Back in the days of Front Row (ah, those were the days…) I could have a folder called Documentaries, then Time Team, then Season, then Episode (with a title that’s more useful than “Episode 7”). All very logical, easy to find things. Sure, Plex and XBMC and others give me pretty pictures, but they’re a poor substitute for actual usability. WDTV was about the only thing out there that supported it.

Thankfully, it looks like a firmware rollback fixes up the WDTV so I’m back to that now. Hopefully by the time that finally kicks the bucket there will be something that’s both pretty and supports simple organisational functions.


Great units IMHO.


Yeah, they’re great little things. I have all my video files on a USB drive on one of my Macs, and the WDTV can see it and read the folder structure very nicely with little lag. The video drive being on the Mac means I can transfer files on to it easily from my other Macs, a nice little central depository. And I can back it up easily and automatically, like any other external drive.

Best of all though is that I can take the WDTV and the USB drive with me when we travel - plug the USB into the back of the WDTV, the HDMI into the motel TV and voila! Full (and robust) access to all my videos, and no need for carrying a laptop or setting up a wireless network. Keeps the kids happy while I make dinner, and my wife and I get to catch up on movies in the evenings.

One day all TVs will be smart TVs, and then I’ll be okay to just take the USB drive. Until then, the WDTV is a great way to keep videos-on-the-road simple and reliable.


Thought I’d give Plex a try today. I put in a spare 2TB HDD in my always-on server and have started ripping my BRD and DVD collection. I had no idea Plex let you stream that stuff remotely, I thought I was a slave to Ultraviolet. Very impressed!