Another Option for Streaming
There are many streaming services and devices out there, but one that doesn’t get a lot of attention is Kodi (formerly known as Xbox Media Center until it rebranded).
Despite being one of the oldest media streaming boxes out there, it’s easy to understand why Kodi has been relegated to the backseat while other services like Chromecast, Android TV, and Amazon Fire have risen in popularity.
What Is Kodi?
Kodi is not really intended for a casual, “mainstream” audience. While it’s fairly easy for anyone to figure out how to legally watch TV online, Kodi requires a bit of technical knowledge to install and run. Other devices typically “work” out of the box, but are limited to the functionality they came with. Kodi, on the other hand, is an open-source media player, which makes it perfect for tinkerers.
There are a plethora of Kodi hacks, mods, and add-ons available from third-party websites that enhance its functionality. Due to its open-source nature and hacker-friendliness, Kodi typically gets lumped in with “illegal” pirating activities in media reports.
Is Kodi Legal?
It’s important to remember that the Kodi software itself is not illegal, but there are a lot of available repositories for illegally pirated TV shows, movies, and live sports broadcasts. As a result, Kodi is typically the top-choice for people who wish to watch pirated content without paying any additional service fees.
Think of it like this: an Amazon Fire stick plugs into your TV, and then you can subscribe to Netflix to stream movies through the stick. With a Kodi, one could theoretically and very easily just download a third-party app that streams “free” (pirated) Netflix movies.
This article is not condoning the practice of downloading pirated content; we’re explaining why Kodi is popular amongst “hackers.” The main appeal of Kodi is its open-source nature, and because mainstream consumers want something that functions properly out of the box, Kodi is more of a niche device.
It’s More Than TV and Movies
Of course, downloading third-party apps to pirate HBO series isn’t Kodi’s only appeal, nor should it be (for legal reasons). Kodi is much more than a movie streaming device: it can play a wide variety of music formats such as AAC, MP3, OGG, and even FLAC. Kodi can also playback all kinds of video formats like MPEG-1, H:263, MPEG-4, AVI, FLV, and Blu-Ray.
Instead of asking what media formats Kodi can play, it’s better to ask which formats Kodi can’t play. And if Kodi can’t play a format out of the box, there is probably a third-party add-on to enable support for whatever you need.
When used properly, Kodi has many pros (and cons) when you compare it to similar streaming devices.
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- Kodi is absolutely free! It’s free to download, free to use, and most of the third-party apps are free as well.
- Kodi is compatible with a large number of devices such as Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Android TV boxes, and others. You could even install Kodi on an Amazon Fire stick if you wanted to.
- It has a pleasant and easy-to-use interface, and is highly customizable. There are a lot of skins and themes for the user interface, through Kodi and third-party developers.
- You get a huge amount of content available for streaming, whether through Kodi Live TV, or any of the thousands of available third-party add-ons (which may or may not be legal).
- The streaming quality can be somewhat poor, and buffer often, depending on the third-party app. Some servers simply get overcrowded.
- Privacy and security can be a concern, as Kodi can be vulnerable to hackers due to its open-source nature. It’s highly recommended to use Kodi with a VPN to hide your network identity, which can slow down your connection a little bit.
- As far as technical support, there is virtually none. You’re left to figure things out on your own, which can be part of its appeal, if you’re tech-savvy. There are Kodi forums and communities online, though.
Is Kodi Right for You?
Deciding if Kodi is right for you depends on your technical knowledge, budget, and moral alignment. Installing Kodi is no simple task, and you do require a device to actually install it on because Kodi is just a piece of software. Most people choose to install Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV stick, but it’s not available through Amazon’s app list.
There are guides available online for installing Kodi on various devices, but no matter what method you choose, you’re going to be rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands a little messy. Especially if you have no prior experience installing unsupported, third-party apps on various devices.
However, if the idea of modding and tinkering with gadgets appeals to you, than Kodi is certainly up your alley. As we mentioned earlier, the legal add-ons for Kodi are plentiful, and there’s a ton of available content to stream.
Of course, a large number of Kodi users are using it to watch pirated content, so if that’s something you’re interested in, you need to be aware of the risks involved (both legally, and regards to your digital privacy).
At the end of the day, it boils down to whether you want something that is modder-friendly, with a ton of third-party app development, and some technical know-how to really use, or something more mainstream that “just works” out of the box.