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Jellyfin

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jellyfin.org

Few things in the world nowadays come close to matching the influence and popularity of digital media. Everywhere you look, you will find that TV and movies dominate almost every single aspect of day to day life. Streaming entertainment follows us wherever we go – and, of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way – whether we are watching our smart TVs in bed, on our smartphones while we are out, or interacting with our Amazon Echoes in the kitchen.

If it is not made abundantly clear by the fact that I spend all day, every day reviewing streaming sites, I think that the inundation of digital media in our lives is wonderful. Technology just keeps becoming more and more intertwined with what it means to be human. Thanks to the internet, nearly infinite knowledge is always at our fingertips. And we can be entertained at all times. Boredom is something that is close to going extinct in the 21st century. Sure, there are plenty of critics out there who like to downplay and hate on the increasing influence that technology has over our lives, but there is no stopping at it this point – so, I say make the most of it! Enjoy all of the conveniences that technology has afforded us.

Luckily, though, for those of us who juggle tons of digital media content across numerous platforms, there is an answer to our problems. And that answer could be, it turns out, media center software. But what exactly are a media center and software suite, you ask? Well, that is an excellent question … It is pretty much precisely what it sounds like. A media center lets you easily gain access to all the digital media sources that you volley between, all in one convenient interface. So, in other words, say goodbye to having to exit and reopen apps all the time on, say, your Roku platform.

Media centers and software suites are something like mini operating systems – a single program that makes accessing all of your entertainment apps easier than ever before. If it contains media files, a media center organizes and archives it for you to find in just a click or two. It is a life simplifier, whether you stream content on your laptop, desktop computer, smart TV, Firestick, Roku, tablet, or phone.

The day that I first started using my media center of choice, I never looked back. I was so impressed by how much easier my life became. You never really think about just how much effort it really can take to try and keep track of what show or movie is on what service – so, using a media center really freed up my mind to simply sit back, relax, and enjoy my content with no worries, concerns, or extra thought required. Finally, I was able to fully focus on the show at hand.

But it is not just video media that a media center can help me keep together. A good media center program also lets my music and photos all exist side by side as well. Some even allow you to link your music streaming services like Spotify or Tidal, providing you with even further organizational and customizable ways to enjoy your favorite songs. And when you are done listening to your jam, hop over to the new Hollywood blockbuster you’ve been meaning to see without having to open additional programs or jump around between apps.

There are, of course, plenty of media centers out there for you to choose from – all of which have their relative ups and downs. Why, then, should you use a lesser-known, user-generated server like Jelly Fin as opposed to, say, Jelly Fin’s parent program, Emby or one of Emby’s competitors like Kodi or Plex? Well, let’s take a look at what Jelly Fin has to offer, shall we, and you can decide for yourself!

History

Jelly Fin is a fork of Emby. This was made possible due to Emby’s free and open-sourced nature. Part of Emby’s mission, in other words, was to make it possible (and easier) for coders and amateur developers to create their own customizations of Emby. By offering Emby’s code for free and encouraging users to experiment with it, plenty of offshoots were created. The most popular of those “forks” as they are called, by far, was Jelly Fin. Jelly Fin officially went live in early 2019, and it has grown exponentially since then.

Emby used to go simply by the name, Media Browser. Which is, in part, where the name “Emby” came from. When they announced the name change, they had this to say of it: “…it pays homage to our origins (it sounds like “MB” when you say it) but lets us break free and continue to grow into the entire ecosystem that we are becoming. Given our broad presence in all the app stores, and future potential, we wanted to come up with a short and fun name that everybody’s wives, kids and grandmothers will be able to remember. We were not looking for a name that describes the project, because that’s very difficult to do and, undoubtedly, will end up meaning different things to different people. Short, catchy and unique were really the top requirements.”

It was precisely this growth that Emby strived toward that enabled forks like Jelly Fin to rise up and become something different altogether – though still in the free and open-sourced nature for which Emby laid down the foundation. Free and open information will always be at the crux of both Emby and Jelly Fin’s mission.

Design

This is probably where Jelly Fin differs the most from its parent software, Emby. Jelly Fin has opted for an extremely minimalistic design – offering little more than a sparse, black background with a simple hierarchical organizational structure. The library, for instance, depicts all of your media, organized by type with offshoots of “keep watching” and “latest” underneath. In tiny lettering, at the very top left-hand corner of the page, you’ll find the understated Jelly Fin logo and a hamburger menu, which will give you access to the rest of your media in just a click or two.

The design of Jelly Fin, as I said, is very simple. But in the best way possible. It makes for an extremely intuitive and user-friendly experience, whether using Jelly Fin on your laptop, smartphone, Roku, tablet, or smart TV. Everything is streamlined and extremely easy to find. Jelly Fin takes the simplification promised by media centers at large and pushes it to the extreme, resulting in a design that anyone can master in a matter of seconds.

Content

The content that is to be found on Jelly Fin depends entirely on what you are subscribed to and what movies and shows you already own. You will not be able to stream content directly from Jelly Fin – that is important to note – but if you have access to a certain movie, song, album, show, etc., Jelly Fin acts as an extremely effective and organized library.

You can also stream and DVR live television on Jelly Fin – so long as you have access to digital cable. Jelly Fin will let you record, watch, and store every episode of all your favorite shows. Never miss an episode again. Plus, keep track of what shows you want to plan to watch by making use of Jelly Fin’s live airing calendar. Again, Jelly Fin makes life simpler.

Mobile and Desktop Experience

I already sort of touched upon this earlier on, but it is worth reiterating … Jelly Fin offers an excellent experience no matter what device you use it on. In fact, in a rather rare turn of events, Jelly Fin’s mobile app is almost unanimously beloved. On the Apple App Store, the Jelly Fin app has received an average user rating of 4.9 – a score so high it is seldom heard of, especially in the digital media space. People seem to really be responding to Jelly Fin’s minimalistic and extremely intuitive design, which translates perfectly onto any device.

Pricing and Plans

Jelly Fin is 100% free to download and use. No limitations or ads apply. Just download, add your media and enjoy to your heart’s content.

Suggestions that I have for Jelly Fin

As far as I know, at this moment, users are not able to link their streaming accounts to Jelly Fin. So, anything that you view on this media center has to be preowned by you. Meaning you have to have already downloaded and/or paid for it in order to access it on Jelly Fin. In the future, of course, I would love to see Jelly Fin make it possible, as other media centers have, to watch Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon content right from their near-perfect interface.

Likes & Hates:
Free
Amazing design
So easy to use
Great on any device
Awesome organization
Cannot link streaming accounts