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If you are wanting to turn your PC or big screen TV into a low cost home theater system or movie server, then I have the best free media center apps for your favorite project. Home theater and media center software enables people to store, stream, manage and enjoy Photos, music and videos with friends and family on the big screen.
Some of these media center tools also have mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, allowing people to stream music and videos live on your mobile phones or tablets directly into the home theater system; However, this second feature may not be free.back to menu ↑
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 main music and movie formats like MP3, AAC, WAV, etc. and allows you to 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 consists of extras and accessories such as skins, games, screen savers, web interface, etc., which can help improve your overall experience.
- Supports more than 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 along with 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 (shows a list of the latest episodes along with their numbers and names), etc.
- It offers a collection of plugins to customize as per requirements, for example, Navi-X makes all content accessible from live TV, Project Free TV provides sections like calendar and search to easily navigate within collections, etc.
- Initial setup takes a long time due to the addition of plugins and other options
- His functions and options are a bit complex compared to some of its competitors
- That works only in full screen, making other applications inaccessible at the same time
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, etc. The app also allows you record and schedule live TV and it even supports playing Blu-ray discs for watching movies.
You can enhance your appearance by using thousands of skins and accessories to control your HTPC (Home Theater PC), display sports scores, local movie times, etc. Stream media and radio to any network that supports HTPC and use a remote control to control it.
Compared to Kodi, MediaPortal carries the progress in media control and allows you to access your favorite movies and watch them in a personalized way. His plugins can be easily configured within the app and you can enable / disable them whenever you want.
- It allows access media from Android and iOS devices remotely
- Offers a great 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 numerous 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)
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 videos in HD quality without problems.
The application consists of a simple interface that improves your media organization by adding descriptions, frame summaries, etc. and even offers recommendations for new content. It allows you to create custom playlists and share your media with others easily.
Plex supports automatic image uploads that can be synced wirelessly and also optimize your media for different devices and screens. Plex guarantees the encryption of your multimedia content and supports SSL encryption to provide end-to-end data protection.
- Supports most music and video formats
- Save any online media in the ‘Watch Later’ list for offline viewing
- Compile online or third party streaming channels to provide additional content, for example TED Talks, Vimeo, Soundcloud, etc.
- Allows you to enjoy multimedia content on mobile using its Mobile Sync function while traveling to a remote or inaccessible location (premium)
- Unfortunately it doesn’t work with Apple TV
- Few of its features are premium, such as previews, mobile sync, cloud sync, etc.
Emby server auto convert and play 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, and more.
Emby presents your media in a beautiful way that makes your videos look exceptionally good. You can cast multimedia content and live TV to Chromecast, the easy way. Emby too offers parental controls (free unlike Plex) that helps you limit media access to your kids.
Automatically track DLNA services on your network for easy access to content and remote control. Emby supports cloud sync for easy backup (premium) and also convert and optimize your content to stream on any device (but that’s premium, unlike Plex).
- It allows online video recording and live TV shows to watch offline or watch later with recordings library management support (same as Plex)
- It offers a wide range of add-ons such as one for Google Drive (sync content with the 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 for being less user friendly than Kodi and Plex
- Its old versions fast forward and rewind missing buttons
- Reported to be unable to detect Chromecast in some cases
MythTV is an open source digital video recorder and media player that allows you to view and record HDTV-compatible digital media. The player allows easy rewind, pause and skip options that allow seamless playback of any multimedia content.
It’s compatible automatic trade detection Y lets skip all those ads (magically) 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 you manage its functionalities from a browser itself. Its interface comes with a number of official and third-party features. theme packages to help you customize the program’s user interface according to your mood and requirements.
- Supports most audio / video formats (like others above)
- Integrates with NES, MAME and other emulators using their MythGame plugin, allowing you to play your favorite classic games directly
- It offers a number of plugins such as MythWeather (shows the weather information in your locality), MythFlix (helps you manage your NetFlix queue from MythTV), MythMovies (presents local movie times), etc.
- Take advantage of MythExtras that 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 commercial detection may not always work for all types of ads.
- It does not offer support for mobile devices and online syncing., 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 entry-level, medium to advanced users. However, it does not mean that you cannot choose the rest.
I suggest you compare features of these offers with your set of requirements and choose the one that best suits your requirements. Happy watching.back to menu ↑
Final words: 5 Best Home Theatre and Media Center Software [Review]
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