Emby Media Server–Why you should be using it

Emby Media Server–Why you should be using it

I’ve not done many articles lately, but I have been working on beta testing for the Emby / Kodi integration. If you are an XBMC / Kodi user or not? Emby Media Server is well worth taking a closer look at!

Emby-Logo

 

 

 

 

 

What is it? Emby is an Open Source Media Server and Client applications solution which was previously named Media Browser, which initially started life as a 3rd party Movie / TV Shows views add-on for the now dead Windows Media Center platform.

In a nut-shell Emby can be used to centralise all your media content, manage its metadata and artwork, access your content on a multitude of different devices, share content with family and friends and more!

The Emby Server can be installed on Windows, Linux, NAS, MAC, FreeBSD. I have it installed on my WHS 2011 server and I removed MyMovies.dk which was still on there for legacy MCE metadata. One of the great things about the server side of things is the ease at which metadata and artwork files are automatically downloaded and can be managed using the metadata manager for example. Its pretty much 100% seamless, you add new content that is correctly named and structured and the Emby server does the rest for you.

No more messing about with 3rd party metadata managers or with several different metadata add-ons in Kodi such as the Artwork Downloader or CDArt Manager, those add-ons are made redundant. As is MYSQL as a centralised database for Kodi, with the Emby add-on for Kodi and the Emby Server back-end these replace and also make MYSQL redundant.

Emby client apps include: Kodi, Windows Media Center / XBOX 360 (MCE Extender), Android TV, Roku  / Now TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV, some Samsung Smart TVs and Emby Theatre which is their stand alone Windows client application. Also you can use the Emby’s web browser GUI to cast content to your Chrome Cast device, Emby also supports DLNA.

So plenty of apps to play with and then there are the mobile apps which include: Emby Web Client (HTML5), Android, iOS (Under development and coming soon), Windows 8.1 / 10 and Windows Phone.

As you can see its a very impressive list of client app options! I am personally using the Emby add-on for Kodi, this is still in beta and I have it installed on two test PCs only at the moment and not installed on my main OpenElec HTPCs which are connected to the TVs in the house. I am also using the Android mobile app on several tablets and the Windows 8.1 / 10 app on my new Windows 10 touch screen laptop. I have also setup the Roku app on a Now TV box for a relative so they can access content remotely over the Internet.

And that is another killer feature of Emby the remote access side of things, in native Kodi media center there is no easy way out of the box to open up your content for remote access when you are away from the home. This is where Emby really shines and the Emby Server will ensure that the vast majority of your content can be played on remote devices either by transcoding on the fly to suit devices such as tablets and phones or by allowing Direct Streaming where possible. For example another family member of mine now has a remote Kodi installation on their PC and they can direct stream Movies, TV Shows and Music from my server here with no transcoding required for most video formats that Kodi can play natively.

Other Emby features include cloud sync (this is a paid for option which there aren’t too many) where you can choose to sync some of your content titles up to the cloud to services like Dropbox. Mobile sync is another feature, I’ve not tried this but presumably you could choose to sync down a movie for example to your mobile devices local storage for offline playback. Parental Controls and user management to easily share content with family members and friends. There is also an inbuilt Live TV side to Emby, which I believe only currently works for HDHomeRun network tuners.

However I am still using DVBLogic’s DVBLink Server as the back-end for my Live TV and Kodi using the DVBLinks PVR add-on links in to this. However there is also a plug-in for DVBLink on the Emby server, this then enables Live TV to then be streamed to the various Emby client apps, some features fall under the Emby Supporter / Donator category like being able to see all your TV channels in the electronic program guide, however you can still see and access all the channels in a simple channel list view. But most of the core features of Emby are free and do not require supporter access. Other Live TV Emby plug-ins for back-end TV services include ServerWMC, Media Portal, Next PVR, TVHeadEnd, VU+.

Some screen shots:

Emby HTML5 Web Browser GUI

Home

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Movies

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Movie Info Page

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TV Shows

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TV Show Info Page

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TV Show Seasons

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Season 1 / Episodes

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Episode Info Page

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Music Albums

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Album Details / Tracks

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Album Artists

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Artist Info Page

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Summary

To wrap this up then, Emby is well simply excellent, the forums are active and helpful to new users. There are parts of the system which are still under heavy development such as the Kodi / Emby integration and the iOS app, however there are stable versions available for Kodi if you don’t want to be on the cutting edge with the beta releases.

I would say Emby is a replacement for Windows MCE / MyMovies.dk, Plex and probably a whole other bunch of media center related software. Try it out and it won’t be long until you think how did I live without it?

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13 thoughts on “Emby Media Server–Why you should be using it

  1. Excelent article!
    How’s the story with regards to using a single server with all content incl. live tv recordings + three or four clients?
    I currently have a WMC pc with 4 HDHomeRun tuners and four Xbox 360’s in my house, but this system is getting a little long in the tooth 😉
    A have a Synology NAS as well, but that currently isn’t used in my tv setup…
    Any idea as to where I should start, if I want to change my setup?
    Also – how’s the UX compared to WMC? I know WMC is getting old, but none of the Linux or Samsung boxes I’ve seen provided by TV providers have come close to WMC’s UX… They all seem slow and buggy and are very “egineer-focused” – not something the wife loves 😉

    1. Well as you all know I am a home theatre PC guy and always will be! You can never beat a proper HTPC with Intel core processing power to smoothly run any Kodi skin you like. My Intel i3 HTPCs were like £600 each so a bit of an investment, if I did it again today I would buy Intel NUC mini PCs. Sure you can go cheap and run Kodi on Raspberry pi or some cheap Android TV box off eBay but I’d rather pay more and have a better system.

      I loved MCE for a long time but let it go right around the Windows 8 development cycle I saw what was coming and that Microsoft were no longer going to develop MCE so made the switch to XBMC now Kodi. My server is only a little HP microserver with about 12TB on there, I have a Blackgold PCI tuner for the UK DVB-T2 over the air TV signal and still using DVBLink for the Live TV. I don’t rely on Kodi / DVBlink as a PVR though, I use my ISPs STB (Youview+ / BT).

      If you have HDHomeRun network tuners the new inbuilt Emby live TV supports these I believe.

      I have 3x dedicated OpenElec / Kodi HTPCs an Apple iMAC 27″ running Kodi, Windows 10 touch screen laptop and several Android tablets for us all and 2x remote relatives accessing content one via a remote Kodi PC and one using a Now TV box and the Emby app.

      As for the UI on Kodi depends on what skin you run, I’m currently using Xperience1080 skin which is more mature and modern looking than some of the more flashy skins like Aeon MQ5. Have a look at some of my previous posts about XBMC / Kodi on http://www.windowsmediacenter.blogspot.com

      Windows MCE is long dead seems MyMovies.dk is heading with it, I also loved MyMovies for a long time as well, but in my very experienced opinion the way forward is Emby server on the back-end and Kodi with the Emby add-on on the HTPC front-end, then plus the various Emby apps on your other mobile and remote devices.

      1. I’m still using mce and there is nothing wrong with it with the exception of a few epg issues. I tried Kodi very recently and had nothing but headaches trying to get live TV working – I tried most back ends but the only one I had marginally any success with was nextpvr, I couldn’t even get the media center backend to work.
        I’m now looking at the only other option which is a set top box

        1. Take a look at EMBY. If it supports your tuner, give it a try. I felt the same way you do about MCE — until it stopped downloading the guide for my zip code. After growing frustrated trying to solve that problem, I grudgingly turned to EMBY. It has all the features, and getting live TV to work (it supports my hdhomerun tuners) was actually quite simple.

          1. i do use emby already, for watching my ripped movies. Unfortunately my satellite tv tuner is inside my htpc computer, and not my media server (where emby server resides) – so emby server cant see any tv tuners.

  2. I’m still trying to decide between Plex and Emby. Both have different strengths and weaknesses – and they are both very weak when it comes to handling photos. I think the deciding factor for me will be to see what the new version of the Emby Home Theater client looks like. EHT has been alpha software for a very long time, but apparently there’s a totally new version due next month.

    1. I’ve never even tried Emby Home Theatre I run Kodi on the HTPC front-end. I have my family photos added to the Emby media library its works but is an area they could improve. If you have HTPCs run Kodi with Emby if not run Plex as it runs on more client devices like games consoles and smart tv’s.

  3. This is a great article, and I appreciate you taking the time to write it. I’ve been trying to understand how I can use Emby for a while now with my system. But I am still a bit confused. I will probably need to reread and process the information a little better. , However, can you please give me a snapshot of how I would reconfigure my system to implement Emby…..
    I am currently a US user, my setup is as follows. Full blown MCE with intel i5 and a discrete ASUS NVidia card. I have a Ceton 6 Tuner PCIe card. I am using multiple Ceton Echos, and I have a Windows Home Server 2011 in the back with MyMovies, hosting a large movie library.
    At this point I don’t believe there is a suitable replacement for the live TV, but I am very willing to try something new for the movie library. I conitually have nothing but problems with MM, and it doesn’t transcode to the Echos. I am very willing to try, but would appreciate a little guidance.

    1. I am in the same boat as you. I was primarily using MCE for live tv and dvr, Plex for videos. I wanted to buy into the HDHomeRun DVR, but it is month’s away from being something even remotely functional as MCE. Then, I could no longer receive the guide in MCE. So, someone suggested EMBY. I didn’t like it at first, primarily because it was slow and clunky (uses web client for playback), freezing up all the time. Live TV HD playback was a disaster. However, it has ALL the MCE functionality I was looking for and more. So, after a bit more research, I discovered that the my performance problems were mostly due to the fact that the EMBY server is 32-bit software (with it’s limitations) running on my 64-bit system. After following the advice in a couple of forum threads, it looks like the software has stabilized a bit. And, I’m loving it. If you haven’t already, I recommend you give it a try. However, I don’t know what other tuner besides hdhomerun it supports.

  4. Well on paper Emby has always been the best, tho it was never stable. At least on Mac OS X. It crashes all the time or streamed videos are black. I mean I can go on and on with all the bugs and the lack of an IOS app that is literally never updated and doesn’t work. Even the name of the app is still MB Mobile (Media Brother Mobile), hasn’t been updated to Emby yet.

    I mean you make it sound like it’s as good as Plex. Plex works on every platform and its almost flawless and functionality are better and better.
    Again, in paper Emby sounds amazing and better than Plex even, tho it doesn’t quite work well and Developpement is far from perfect.
    I want to ditch Plex for Emby, and I wanted to do it for at least 2 years but I can’t, it just doesn’t work well yet. I don’t have a Windows machine to try this out

  5. I have both as I like Kodi and the customizations but I need/want the server-client config. This article reads like a PR piece or someone who hasn’t actually tried the other options (Every single emby benefit listed here is available on Plex). Also you didn’t even touch on technical specs. Plex’s server engine is far more advanced in being able to transcode whatever you throw at it on the fly, to multiple remote clients simultaneously without issue. This simply isn’t the case with emby server. At least not yet.

  6. I love then authors leave out key point about a product. Like how Emby while being “open source” is DRM driven in the sense you need to buy either (get ready for this) a monthly, yearly OR lifetime License in order to use allot useful features. Such as the backup and restore plugin (yep you need to PAY in order to backup and be able to restore your settings), or any app on other device such as the mby app for IOS, Andriod and Windows10. Oh and lets not forget that if you want to use ANY of those apps after you’ve PAID for the premier License. That unless you connect using that app to your emby server while inside your home network. It won’t be the premier. Meaning that if you install the app on say a family members ipad in their house. You need to BUY the app separately. Even though you own a premier license.

    And lets not leave out the fact that your Emby server MUST check in with the emby server every few days to check on your License or else you’ll lose your Premier “status” and not be able to even backup your server Emby settings, let alone use any of your devices and their apps with.

    Emby is nothing more than a clone Plex all way down to the pricing model and DRM.

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