Kodi: The ultimate guide

Cord cutters are raving about Kodi.

Kodi is an open-source media center app that's been developed and built out over the past decade. Its latest build is one of the most complete media centers you'll find, allowing you to consolidate all your media — videos, music, and photos — into a single destination with a customizable interface that's both stylish and easy to use. There's also a slew of third-party add-ons available within Kodi, which grant you access to all sorts of streaming options from around the world. Kodi is widely available, with builds available for nearly all operating systems and devices. The latest version of Kodi, codenamed Leia, will be released soon. You can read more about the new features being included here.

Kodi makes it easy to organize and watch your favorite media from your computer, smartphone, or TV via a Kodi-enabled device. Available in the Google Play Store, Kodi can be installed on pretty much any Android device. While it's pretty easy to setup Kodi on your own (and we've got guides to help you set things up for yourself, there's been increased interest in Android TV boxes that come with Kodi pre-installed. Simply connect these boxes up to your TV, connect them to your Wi-Fi and you're pretty much ready to start streaming content. Depending on how much you're planning to invest, these boxes can come loaded with 4K capabilities.

See at Kodi.tv

Quick guide to Kodi for beginners

Top picks for pre-installed Kodi boxes

Given how versatile and easy it is to get Kodi, you may already have a device that's ready to roll — whether you've got a computer hooked up to your TV, an Android TV device such as the NVIDIA Shield or the Xaomi Mi Box, or you're looking for a new project for your Raspberry Pi.

But all these options take some setting up and tweaking, which is why many smart TV boxes are coming preloaded with Kodi. Sometimes referred to colloquially as "Kodi boxes," these devices range drastically in terms of quality and security, but they're also extremely affordable and requires very little setup. Take a look at some of these options available from Amazon for under $100.

Q-Box Amlogic S905 Smart TV Box

This Android TV box supports up to 4K playback, runs on Android 5.1, and comes pre-loaded with a bunch of popular apps, including Kodi — though you'll probably need to do some tweaking to get everything up to date with the latest versions. You'll be able to update and get more apps for other streaming services you might be subscribed to via the Google Play Store. There's 16GB of internal storage available for your own media, along with an SD card slot on the back. The Q-Box comes with a remote but also features two USB ports on the back if you'd prefer to control it with a mouse and keyboard.

Aesthetically, this box has a ring of pulsing light around the perimeter, which might feel a bit gaudy to some, but it can be disabled in the preferences.

See at Amazon

MX3 Advance Android TV Box

The MX3 Advance also is capable of supporting 4K playback and should handle all your binging needs without feeling sluggish. It also comes with Kodi installed and preloaded with a bunch of popular add-ons. There's 16GB of internal storage along with an SD card slot so you can load up your personal media, and there's also two USB ports on the back.

Those ports might come in handy since the included remote control has a very limited range and is not so good. You'd be better off getting a wireless controller (See the suggestions on the Amazon page for good options with built-in QWERTY keyboards) or using those USB ports for a keyboard and mouse combo.

See at Amazon

Amlogic S912 Octa Core Android 6.0 TV Box

As recommended by a commenter below, the Amlogic S912 is a great newer Kodi box option that you can buy for around $70. It's running on Android 6.0 and comes with Kodi and a bunch of other useful media apps pre-installed. There is 16GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, and connectivity support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi — and everything is packaged in a rather stylish package.

Each box comes with standard accessories including an IR remote, HDMI cable, power adapter and user manual. You have the option of connecting up your own keyboard and mouse to make searching for content easier. It's a great, affordable option that should be ready to roll right out of the box.

See at Amazon

Your picks?

What are your favorite ways to access Kodi? Let us know in the comments below!

Update June 2017: Added the Quick Guide to Kodi for Beginners.



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