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If you regularly read our articles about Plex or Kodi, you’ll know we refer to them as two separate entities. That’s entirely accurate — the two apps are competitors. They both want to be the portal through which you watch your locally-saved media.
However, did you know that there’s an official Plex addon available for Kodi? In many ways, it provides the best of both worlds.
But what exactly does the Plex addon offer? Why is it worth installing? And do you even need it? We’re going to answer all of these questions and more. Keep reading to find out what all the fuss is about.
Plex for Kodi Is Now (Mostly) Free
If you’ve been a dedicated Plex or Kodi user for some time, you probably already know about the Plex addon. It isn’t new, it hasn’t suddenly got a host of new features, and it hasn’t been radically redesigned.
So, why is the addon suddenly making headlines? What’s changed? In short, it’s now free. Sort of.
Previously, users needed to have a Plex Pass subscription to access its many features. Since October 2017, that’s no longer the case. Almost all of the features of Plex for Kodi are free to use.
Of course, you shouldn’t disregard the Plex Pass altogether, but its benefits are becoming fewer and fewer, especially for casual users.
What’s Not Included?
Before we look at what is included, let’s look at which parts of Plex’s Kodi addon are still hidden behind the Plex Pass paywall.
The three most notable exclusions are:
- Audio Fingerprinting: There are three parts to audio fingerprinting. It can help you manage your music by matching snippets of songs with the correct artist and album, it provides artist bios and reviews, and it automatically downloads album cover art.
- Multiple Users: If several people in your household watch Plex, the multiple users feature allows each of them to maintain their own history of shows watched, ratings, and so on.
- Parental Controls: Lets you create separate accounts for children as well as restrict specific content.
If you want these features, you can buy a Plex Pass for $14.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription.
What Features Are Included?
Which features of the Kodi addon are available for free to everyone? For many people, the two most notable features are library organization and “Available Anywhere” streaming.
The library organization lets you manage all your videos, music, and photos. As long as you tag your content correctly, the addon will even automatically import plot summaries, actor biographies, episode names, and other associated metadata.
Available Anywhere lets you stream your content from anywhere in the world. For example, if you have Kodi installed on your tablet and have a Plex Media Server running on your desktop computer at home, you can use Kodi on your tablet to access your videos even when you’re away from your house. If you’re not a Plex Pass subscriber, the feature requires a one-time fee of $4.99.
Other notable features include Plex’s legendary ability to read and play almost any file format you throw at it, library sharing, and encrypted remote connections.
What Are the Benefits Over Plex’s Standalone App?
Aside from the fact that more choice and flexibility is always a good thing, there are some clear benefits to using the Plex addon within Kodi.
For many dedicated Kodi users, the most significant benefit is the ability to take advantage of Plex’s fantastic transcoding capabilities. For example, if you run Kodi on a Raspberry Pi, smartphone, or other lower-powered devices, it will struggle to play high-definition, 16Mb/s content. Plex will automatically transcode the video into a format which suits your gadget, thus giving you seamless playback.
Another major benefit is access to Plex’s Channels library. Of course, there’s a lot of crossover between Kodi addons and Plex Channels, but, as any long-time Kodi user knows, the addons often stop working or go offline completely. Plex offers you a backup solution.
Lastly, a previously unconsidered benefit that’s recently come to the fore is live TV. If you’ve been following Plex news, you will know that the app now works with an antenna to let you watch local over-the-air channels for free from within the app.
Of course, Kodi also offers this functionality, but Kodi servers aren’t easy to set up for beginners. By using Plex, you can set up the antenna on your main server and watch fully-legal live TV on any device that’s running Kodi.
We’re sure you can think of lots more benefits. So be sure you let us know in the comments.
How Do You Install the Plex Addon for Kodi?
Obviously, before you can install the addon, you need to make sure you have Kodi installed. You can grab a copy from Kodi’s website. Follow the on-screen instructions to get the app up and running.
You have to install the Plex addon from within the Kodi app. Luckily, it’s located in the official Kodi repo, so you don’t need to fiddle around with third-party libraries.
To begin, fire up the Kodi app and click Add-Ons in the left-hand panel.
In the new window, select Download. Again, you’ll find it in the left-hand panel.
You will now see a long list of categories in Kodi’s main windows. Scroll down and click on Video Add-Ons.
Once again, you’ll see a long list. These are all the video addons that Kodi officially supports. Find the Plex entry and click on it.
You should now be looking at the Plex addon’s store page. Select Install in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Depending on your internet speed, the download and installation process might take a couple of minutes to complete. When the addon is ready, you will see a notification in the upper right-hand corner.
To use the addon, return to the Kodi home screen and go to Add-Ons > Video Add-Ons. You should see Plex listed. Double-click on the addon to launch it.
You will see a new Plex screen. Tap Sign In and Plex will generate a unique four-digit code for you. Using a web browser, navigate to plex.tv/link and enter the code.
Return to Kodi, and Plex should have automatically signed in to your server. You will then see all your content displayed.
Do You Use the Plex Addon for Kodi?
The fact Plex has now made its official app almost entirely free for all users is a significant boon. You’ll no longer have to rely on third-party Plex adaptations like PlexKodiConnect.
The addon won’t suit all users. There are always people who will want a feature that’s not present. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-set-up way to link Kodi and Plex together, you can’t go far wrong with the official addon.
Have you tried the official Plex for Kodi app? Were you impressed? What did you like? What’s still missing? As always, you can share your thoughts with us in the comments below. And remember to share this article with your Kodi-loving friends on social media.