Kodi has long been among the most popular media center applications on the market. But a lot has changed since Kodi — then known as Xbox Media Player (and, later, Xbox Media Center) — debuted in 2002. Back then, Kodi was a great homebrew solution for organizing local media. Now, the home entertainment landscape is dominated by streaming media, and the market is full of hardware devices that come with their own built-in media center features. So, in this day in age, it’s fair to ask: why use Kodi?
To be sure, there are some things that Kodi just can’t do as elegantly as glossier corporate alternatives like Roku and Fire TV. But Kodi still holds a special value for certain subsets of streamers and movie fans, especially those who prefer a bit more of a DIY approach.
Why Use Kodi in 2018?
If you’ve got a big streaming budget, love the major streaming devices on the market, and don’t have a ton of local content, you may not really need Kodi. But for the rest of us, there are plenty of reasons to still be excited about Kodi in 2018.
Back in its Xbox Media Center (XBMC) days, Kodi was free. These days? Well, guess what: it’s still free. You really can’t beat that pricing!
Now, to be fair, Kodi is just software. When we compare Kodi to, say, Roku, we’re not strictly comparing software solutions to software solutions, because the only way to get Roku is to buy a Roku streaming device or smart TV.
But even when we factor in the price of a device to use with Kodi, things can stay pretty cheap. That’s thanks in a large part to Kodi’s incredible versatility.
It Runs on (Almost) Anything
Kodi has some powerful features, but it’s not an enormous program. Kodi’s lean size means that it’s usable on small, under-powered devices. Kodi can be used on all sorts of different computers, mobile devices, and other hardware devices.
That makes sense, given Kodi’s roots as a homebrew application designed to run on the original Xbox video game system. But it also has some very pleasant modern consequences, particularly given the costs involved. An old PC or Mac can easily become your Kodi box, giving you a streaming device essential for free.
Even the tiny and hyper-affordable Raspberry Pi, a favorite of tech-savvy DIYers, can run Kodi.
It’s a Fun DIY Option
Loading Kodi onto a Raspberry Pi or an old computer is a fun and simple DIY project. And it’s far from the only DIY project that you can do with Kodi: Kodi can be loaded on everything from old PCs (so easy it’s barely a DIY project) to original Xbox consoles (quite a bit harder, as the most current version of Kodi does not support the console of its birth).
And since Kodi is open-source, anyone can take a look at the code that makes it work — and use that information to build their own add-ons. The ability to use add-ons is one of the best things about Kodi (as well as one of the most troubling things for Kodi’s team to manage — more on that later), and the ability to create one’s own Kodi add-ons provides the ultimate Kodi DIY option.
It’s Still a Great Choice for Local Media Files
Kodi is a fantastic fit for people with local content. No, this isn’t “local” in the sense that your local news is local — though Kodi can do that too, provided you have the right add-ons and streaming apps. But where Kodi really excels is in the area that it’s always specialized in: organizing local media files.
If you’re one of those people who still has a bunch of movies that you downloaded — or, uh, ripped from DVDs you bought legally, of course — on a computer or hard drive some where, now is the perfect time to dig them out and add them to your entertainment options. Mainstream, device-specific media center applications like Roku and Fire TV have methods for handling local content, but they’re clumsy and under-powered compared to Kodi’s abilities.
With a cheap Kodi box and an old hard drive, you could easily rediscover your old movie files. You could also take this opportunity to rip your DVDs and Blu-Rays, turning them into files that Kodi can serve up and freeing you to finally move those DVDs into the trash.
It Can Play Nice With Other Media Platforms
Platforms like Fire TV may be one of the reasons that Kodi doesn’t seem as necessary anymore, but here’s the thing: you don’t actually have to choose between Fire TV and Kodi! You can add Kodi as an app on your Fire TV, giving you the power to switch back and forth between the two quickly and easily.
That means that you can use Kodi for the things that it does better while still relying on Fire TV to connect you to Amazon’s streaming options and do all the other things that it excels at.
Not every streaming platform makes it easy to add Kodi (the app has been banned from some app stores for reasons we’ll talk about in just a moment, and the climb back to legitimacy has been tough). But, depending on your streaming device and platform of choice, you may find that you can have your cake and eat it, too!
It Can Do Some Things That We Don’t Endorse
Kodi’s add-ons can make it far more powerful. But we’d be leaving something important out if we didn’t mention that Kodi’s add-ons can also enable streaming that exists in legal gray areas — or, in some cases, goes well into clearly illegal territory.
Kodi’s team finally started cracking down on illegal add-ons in recent years, and they’ve done a great job of legitimizing their media center platform. It’s important to note that Kodi is completely legal. Adding illegal add-ons is not something we endorse here at Cordcutting.com — it’s wrong, and there are simply too many great ways to get legal streaming content without cable for breaking the law to be remotely necessary — but there can be no doubt that some users find illegal add-ons to be part of Kodi’s appeal. That was true all along, and it’s still true today.
Using Kodi in Your Cord-Cutting Setup
Convinced? Great: here’s how to get Kodi into your current cord-cutting entertainment setup. For more, be sure to check out our extensive coverage of Kodi right here on Cordcutting.com.
Use a Kodi Box as a Streaming Device
One of the most obvious ways to use Kodi is to make it your main streaming platform. Load Kodi onto a device of your choice, connect that device to your TV via HDMI cable, and voila: you have a powerful streaming device that can also show your local movie files and play your local music files.
Use Kodi With Your Other Streaming Devices
Another great way to add Kodi to your existing streaming setup is to simply add the Kodi app to the device you’re already using. It’s not possible with every streaming device, but it is a breeze with some: for instance, adding Kodi to your Fire TV is very easy. If you’re already happy with your streaming setup, this is a great way to test out Kodi without disrupting the ways you’re already streaming.
Avoid Sketchy Pre-Loaded “Kodi Boxes”
Now that you know what to do, here’s what not to do. Whatever you do, don’t buy one of those pre-loaded Kodi boxes you’ll find for sale online. Many of these devices promise free TV, and they deliver it by using add-ons that are illegal. While you may be unlikely to get into trouble as an end user, it’s better to obey the law. Besides, you can’t trust the people that created these Kodi boxes. Do you really want to type your passwords into a device full of software that some shady character put on it?
Keep Reading About Kodi
You can find tons more information about Kodi right here on Cordcutting.com, so don’t stop reading! Type “Kodi” into our search bar or click on the related stories below.
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