Last Updated on July 13, 2022
Kodi is a free streaming app that offers music, movies, sports, and TV shows all in one place. Microsoft originally created the software for Xbox, and it’s been around for nearly two decades. Eventually, it was abandoned by Microsoft. What is now known as Kodi is managed by hundreds of coders and developers worldwide.
One thing to know about Kodi is that it doesn’t directly provide you with content. The purpose of Kodi is to make more media compatible with what you already have. For example, if you want to watch a show that isn’t compatible with your Firestick, you can download the Kodi app and watch it from there.
Kodi works on pretty much any device you have, which makes it a useful app. It can get all your favorite media in one place, helping you stay organized. It can get overwhelming to keep track of everything you want to watch across all your subscription services. Along with Kodi, there are a few other apps that do a similar job.
Kodi is not the most user-friendly media player. It can take some learning to get used to. Luckily, Kodi is not the only media service out there. There are plenty more that are easier to navigate. These would include Media Portal, OSMC, Plex, Emby, and Stremio. They can be used instead of Kodi or alongside it so you can get the hang of things.
1. Media Portal
Media Portal is designed to convert your PC into a hub for all your media. It’s currently only available on Windows and connects easily to external devices. It’s considered a more user-friendly version of Windows Media Center. It’s also completely free and gives you the ability to organize all your media in an easier, understandable way.
There are two versions of Media Portal available currently, Media Player 1 and Media Player 2. Media Player 1 is more stable but older, and Media Player 2 is still under development. Despite this, the developers say that MP2 has been further improved and is stable. Overall, Media Portal is the most suitable Kodi alternative if your PC is the main source of your entertainment.
With Media Portal 2, the installation of the program is incredibly simple. It takes about five seconds and is dedicated to letting you use one computer as the client and one as the server.
How It Works
Media Portal does a substantial job at managing your TV library and arguably gives you an even better TV experience than regular streaming services or cable. It has great functionality with live TV as well. It’s particularly ideal if you use the same machine to store content that you do to watch it. Some say that it loads slower with the more devices you have connected to it.
To use Media Portal, you’ll place the given TV card into a PC, then install Media Portal with the “Dedicated TV” option. This makes your PC the main streaming outlet. On other PCs, you can install MediaPortal Client, which will make that PC able to receive live or recorded TV or other TV data from your server.
Perks of Using Media Portal
Media Portal turns your PC into a home theater. The vision behind it is to create a free media software that lets you customize your viewing experience. On the platform, you can combine TV channels, create a favorites group, and more. Many say it’s the perfect replacement for Windows Media Center.
It’s designed for Windows, so it should work seamlessly on your PC. It’s easy to get started and has many customizable settings. You can add themes to your interface that can change the entire way you interact with the system. It’s also compatible with many remotes and allows you to watch and record TV at the same time.
It has a ten-foot interface designed to pause, play, and record live TV. You can also play DVDs, music, and view images. There are plugins available that can optimize your experience even more and allow you more functions.
Plugins give Media Portal additional tasks like watching videos online, listening to music from streaming services, and even downloading other applications such as video games.
OSMC (Open Source Media Center) has been mentioned by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Lifehacker, and more. This is because it lets you play back media from the Internet, a local network, or attached storage. The main difference between OSMC and Kodi is that while Kodi is a media center, OSMC is the operating system that brings it to your electronics.
OSMC is based on Debian (a distribution of software) and has over 40,000 packages readily available. The brains behind OSMC strive to make it as accessible as possible, so they have dongles and remotes specifically for their system in case you have a problem. It also comes equipped with the same system as Kodi, meaning installing add-ons will be a breeze, and Kodi will be easier for you to navigate as well.
How It Works
This concept is similar to Kodi running on a Windows device. OSMC has also been carefully and thoroughly optimized to give you the best experience possible. OSMC keeps the software up to date, manages system resources, and manages hardware. It is also updated every month to fix bugs and improve stability and performance.
It allows you to play media from your local network, storage that is attached, and the Internet. It has 4K support and is the leading media center. Everything is managed easily through the OSMC interface.
It is designed under version 2 of the GPL (General Public License), meaning when using OSMC, you have the freedom to share and change it how you like (such as with their add-ons). The General Public License is a big reason that OSMC is free to use; both principles were founded under the same values.
The application installs within minutes, and then you’re free to get started with downloading and streaming content. Their team also sends out updates once a month or more regularly if there are any concerns that need to be addressed.
Perks of Using OSMC
OSMC has a variety of protocols to help ensure that you’re able to stream virtually whatever you want from whatever device you want. There are also user-run forums that can help you navigate through the service and optimize your experience.
The system itself is free to download, but they have dongles, USB ports, and remotes on their website for reasonable prices. If you have any questions, they have a community-led forum to help users adjust. As their website says, OSMC is “by the people, for the people.”
The biggest strength of Plex is that it allows you to create your own media server instead of relying on others. Its functionality is simple—first, you set up your computer as a server. Then you can access the media on any other device that you choose.
Plex is compatible with most platforms, including:
- Amazon Fire TV
- And more
Plex is free, besides a $5 activation fee per platform if you choose to use their apps for Android and IOS. They also have a premium tier called Plex Pass, which is $5 per month, $40 per year, or a one-time payment of $120 for a lifetime Plex Pass. This system is ideal for those who already have a lot of media downloaded.
How It Works
Once you have downloaded Plex, the system will walk you through all its steps. But essentially, you put all your video content into a folder. After directing the Plex software to said folder, the system will make your computer accessible as a server. When you use the Plex app on another device, you can stream content from your computer to a different gadget of your choosing.
From personal media you already have on your device to on-demand shows and movies, podcasts, music, or web shows, Plex makes it easy to view almost any content imaginable all in one streaming system. It’s convenient and a good value for the price.
Perks of Using Plex
Another perk of Plex is that it automatically organizes your media. Shows will be grouped together by seasons and titles, even with episode narratives. It is as aesthetically pleasing as more popular streaming platforms like Hulu or Netflix, and not confusing to navigate through.
For Apple clients only, Plex makes it easy to skip through chapters of shows or movies. Plex also has great video previews and the ability to delete commercials that were recorded in your DVR. It can be used on up to 25 devices.
Emby shares a lot of similarities with Plex, especially as far as their interface and accessibility. They both give you easy access to the server’s media and are both compatible with a plethora of devices. Emby makes it easy for you to start streaming and has a community forum full of people who can answer any questions you might have.
Similar to Kodi and Plex, Emby does not provide you with content. It creates a server for you to stream your own media from various places. While it is free, it also has a premium version that lets you enjoy even more services, including offline streaming and DVR.
How It Works
First, content is needed to stream on Emby. Fast and modern internet connection is also optimal. Once you download and install Emby, it will attempt to startup in your default browser. Then you can add whatever you like to your media library. It has separate sections for movies, TV shows, books, games, home videos, music videos, and mixed content.
Once you go to add a folder, you should be able to see your mapped drives. You select the content type for the folder you are making, and then it will be in your Emby server. Repeat steps for the different types of content you’d like to organize, and then you’re free to stream it all from one place on many different devices.
Perks of Using Emby
It’s designed to organize audio and video all in one place and let you stream it from various devices. New servers of Emby are released frequently on their website to keep things running as seamlessly as possible. While Emby is initially free, they also have a Premiere option with similar prices to Plex’s premium tier.
Some of the Emby Premiere features include car play, DVR, free apps, and offline media. With just the free version of Emby, you can have all your media automatically converted into one place and stream it from virtually any device.
Emby and Plex are comparable in many ways, but some consider Emby to be the superior streaming server. Specifically, it’s easier to tweak the experience to your own personal preference.
The forums also tend to be more helpful, and Emby’s DVR feature is easier to access and understand. Emby is also better with subtitles and the on-demand feature.
The company Stremio describes itself as a one-stop solution for all your video entertainment. It is available for Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and more. Like the other Kodi alternatives on this list, Stremio is safe and reliable.
It gives you the freedom to watch whatever you want, all in one place.
Stremio supports Chromecast, so you can cast media to your tv through their mobile app or a desktop computer. It’s relatively simple to use; once you install the platform and create an account, you can visit their add-on catalog and choose whichever add-ons you want.
How It Works
It expedites streaming from other streaming services and platforms using a P2P network. In simple terms, this means groups of computers are connected with equal responsibilities and permissions to process data. Stremio itself isn’t illegal, and neither are the other platforms on this list, but it’s recommended that you use a VPN to ensure privacy.
None of the content is owned by Stremio; it is simply a media center where you can access content from different platforms. In addition to recorded movies and TV shows, you can also use Stremio to listen to podcasts and watch sports or web channels. You can also import a list of shows to Stremio based on shows that you have liked on Facebook.
To view media on Stremio, the platform will use add-ons you’ve downloaded to scan for whatever you’re searching for. This is why the add-ons are helpful; they make it much easier to get a wide range of content. You can also watch Stremio remotely. If you’re not near a device that you have Stremio downloaded on, enable HTTPS connections ahead of time to set up remote streaming.
Perks of Using Stremio
Some Stremio add-ons include Netflix, YouTube, and subtitles. It differs from Emby and Plex because many of their add-ons include movies and shows that you don’t have to have previously downloaded. There are also Stremio forums available online to answer questions you may have that aren’t on their official website.
Another unique thing about Stremio is that it is completely free. There are no in-app purchases and their add-ons are free, too. They sustain this system by running ads, which is mildly inconvenient but keeps the platform running smoothly at no monetary cost to the users.
Stremio also uses a free service called Trakt that can let you view your watch history. The same service is available as an add-on with Kodi, and it works the same way for Stremio. In addition to keeping tabs on your watched content, Stremio also has a built-in calendar.
This calendar tells you the release date of the next episode or season of whatever show it’s picked up on that you’re interested in from your watch history.
Kodi is an all-purpose streaming service that turns one of your devices into a server to stream all your content from many devices. It can combine the other streaming services that you have and make a one-stop platform to watch or listen to content. It’s a modern and useful concept, but many consider Kodi to be difficult to navigate and not very user-friendly.
With the plethora of different ways to stream content, and especially with the number of different platforms for different types of media, you may be wishing you could access all of your downloaded content (and more) in just one place. That’s where these Kodi alternatives come into play.
Maybe you wish you could listen to music, play video games, and watch TV all from one device for a flat rate. Or maybe it’s hard for you to keep track of the number of streaming service subscriptions you have along with everything you’ve recorded on cable to watch later. Whatever the case is, there is likely a one-stop solution you may not have even been aware of.
Kodi is a novelty concept, but there are some downsides to Kodi specifically. Whether you found it confusing to use or are looking for something that’s more your style, you’re sure to find the right fit on this list of Kodi alternatives.