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If you want to turn your PC or big screen TV into a low cost home theater system or movie server, I have the best free media center apps for your favorite project. Home theater and media center software allows people to store, distribute, manage and enjoy Photos, music and videos with your friends and family on the big screen.
Some of these media center tools also have mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, allowing users to stream live music and video on your mobile phones or tablets directly in the home cinema system; However, this second feature may not be free.
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Kodi is an award-winning cross-platform media center app that supports playing music and videos, games, and more. Its interface works with all televisions, and users can play digital media files from local storage or online storage solutions.
Kodi plays everything major music and film formats like MP3, AAC, WAV, etc. and lets you take full control of your media collection. You can also watch live TV and pictures and do a lot more with its community-created plugins.
After your initial setup, you can sit back and enjoy your favorite videos or shows, and you can also play CDs / DVDs. The software also includes extras and accessories such as skins, games, screensavers, web interface, etc. which can help improve your overall experience.
- Supports over 20 popular music and movie formats including AAC, MP3, FLAC, OGG and WAV
- Stream content from the most popular online audio / video streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc.
- It allows access to the library of thousands of TV shows as well as episode and season views with posters and banners
- Provides a series of additional means or functions like Movie Quiz Program (asks questions about a particular movie), Last Episode (displays a list of the last episodes with their numbers and names), etc.
- It offers a collection of plugins to customize as needed, for example, Navi-X makes all content accessible from live TV, Project Free TV provides sections like calendar and search to easily navigate collections , etc.
- Initial setup takes a long time due to adding plugins and other options
- His functions and options are a bit complex compared to some of its competitors
- This only works in full screen, making other applications inaccessible at the same time
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MediaPortal is an all-in-one multimedia solution for your PC that connects directly to your TV and displays your favorite soap operas, music, videos and movies, and more. The app also allows you record and schedule live TV and it even supports playing Blu-ray discs for watching movies.
You can improve your appearance by using thousands of skins and accessories to control your HTPC (Home Theater PC), view sports scores, local movie times, etc. Stream media and radio over any network that supports HTPC and use a remote control to control it.
Compared to Kodi, MediaPortal carries the progress in media control and lets you access and watch your favorite movies in a personalized way. His plugins can be easily configured in the app and you can turn them on / off whenever you want.
- It allows remotely access media from Android and iOS devices
- Offer a large selection of channels (and its list of programs) from portals such as Sky Cinema HD, Sky Sport HD, Kultur HD, etc.
- Provides a wide range of leather collections, such as Titan, aMPed, Avalon HD, Black Glass, etc. to improve the user interface and user experience of MediaPortal
- It offers many add-ons such as News and Information (displays news media from the web), Games (offers games that can be played from the couch), etc.
- His the interface is very slow compared to other home theater players
- It is difficult to open custom media (browse and play a video file manually)
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Plex is a media player app that can play your favorite music and videos from anywhere, on (almost) any device and provides full control over the media. Compatible devices include TV, computer, mobile or tablet and allows you to enjoy HD quality videos without any hassle.
The app consists of a simple interface that enhances your media organization by adding descriptions, image summaries, etc. and even offers recommendations for new content. It allows you to create personalized playlists and easily share your media with others.
Plex supports automatic image downloads which can be synced wirelessly and also optimize your media for different devices and screens. Plex guarantees the encryption of your media content and supports SSL encryption to ensure end-to-end data protection.
- Supports most music and video formats
- Save all online media to the “Watch Later” list for offline viewing
- Compile online or third-party distribution channels to provide additional content e.g. TED Talks, Vimeo, Soundcloud, etc.
- Allows you to enjoy multimedia content on mobile thanks to its Mobile Sync function while traveling to a remote or inaccessible place (premium)
- Unfortunately it does not work with Apple TV
- Few of its features are premium, such as previews, mobile sync, cloud sync, etc.
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Emby server auto convert and read your favorite videos and media files on most devices. It offers an easy to use interface and allows you to broadcast live TV and organize your media by editing metadata and images, search for captions, etc.
Emby presents your media in a gorgeous way that makes your videos exceptionally beautiful. You can stream media and live TV to Chromecast with ease. Emby too offers parental controls (free unlike Plex) which helps you limit media access to your kids.
Automatically track DLNA services over your network for easy access to content and remote control. Emby supports cloud sync for easy backup (prime) and also convert and optimize your content to stream to any device (but it’s premium, unlike Plex).
- It allows online video recording and live TV shows to watch offline or watch later with support for managing the recording library (same as Plex)
- It offers a wide range of add-ons like Google Drive (syncing content with cloud), Game Browser (allows you to play a variety of online games), etc.
- Offers mobile apps to take your content anywhere and offline with Emby Mobile Sync (it’s a premium feature)
- Known to be less friendly than Kodi and Plex
- Its old versions fast forward and rewind missing buttons
- Reported to be unable to detect Chromecast in some cases
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MythTV is an open source digital video recorder and media player that allows you to display and record HDTV compatible digital media. The player allows easy rewind, pause and skip options that allow seamless playback of any media content.
it is compatible automatic transaction detection Yes let all these announcements go through (as if by magic) and even manually using its advanced cut list editor. With MythTV, you can schedule recording and even set parental controls to allow limited access to your children.
MythTV can help manage its functionalities from a browser himself. Its interface comes with a number of official and third-party features. thematic packages to help you customize the program’s user interface to suit your mood and needs.
- Support most audio / video formats (like others above)
- Integrates with NES, MAME and other emulators using their MythGame plugin, allowing you to directly play your favorite classic games
- It offers a number of plugins such as MythWeather (shows weather information in your locality), MythFlix (helps you manage your NetFlix queue from MythTV), MythMovies (shows local movie times), etc.
- Take advantage of the MythExtras which contains a number of development tools like Perl Bindings (writes Perl scripts that interact with MythTV) and Python Bindings (writes Python scripts) but is strictly for developers
- Not such a good user interface like your competitors above
- Your business detection may not always work for all types of ads.
- It does not support mobile devices and online sync., not like the others
If you ask me, I love Kodi and Plex for their impressive set of user interfaces and powerful features to meet the needs of everyone from beginner, average to advanced users. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose the rest.
I suggest you compare features of these offers with your set of requirements and choose the one that best suits your needs. Good viewing.
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Final words: 5 best home theater and media center software [Review]
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