Movie and TV fans who want a better way to organize and stream their content should check out Kodi. Formerly known as Xbox Media Center (XBMC) and still provided for free by the XBMC Foundation, Kodi is the all-in-one solution for organizing, consuming, and sharing media such as shows, movies, music, and even comic books.
1. Kodi: The Peoples’ Media Player Choice
Right arise the home screen, it’s easy to see why users appreciate Kodi. First, it’s available on a wide variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.
Although Kodi works well on many devices, it was explicitly designed with a 10-foot UI so that it works well on televisions and not just smaller screens.
Since its advent in 2003, XMBC quickly became a crowd favorite, taking home two SourceForge Community Choice Awards in 2006. The media player’s popularity didn’t dwindle after the name change in 2014. The same year, Kodi was the Lifehacker Award for “Best Media Player.”
2. Who uses Kodi?
Kodi has become popular with people who build their virtual private servers and devices in part because those systems often run on Linux or Raspberry Pi platforms but also because the open-source software can be added to other platforms, including Amazon’s Fire Stick, easily enough.
Kodi was also the natural choice for those looking for a replacement for the deprecated Windows Media Center.
However, anyone who wants a visual way to organize and stream files should give Kodi a try. Those people who frequently keyboard shortcuts will be happy to hear that Kodi is chock full of them!
3. Using Kodi Is Easy
Once installed, users can add their media to Kodi’s library. This is media already downloaded to their systems. Users should note that Kodi is unable to play files that are Digital Rights Management protected, and this includes purchases from iTunes, Amazon, and Audible.com.
If the files have the proper format and are in the right folders, Kodi will scour for data such as thumbnails for the media. The design for shows is /Show Name/Season XX/ or Movie Name (YYYY). Individual episodes use the sXXeYY format (S05E01).
The software neatly categorizes media by type (movies, TV shows, music videos, music, comics, photos, and live TV) based on these filenames, and users can further sort by genre, title year, or actor (for videos). Kodi is a slick visual library thanks to its cover gallery.
Although most people think of Kodi as a way to listen to or watch media, which it’s indeed good at, users shouldn’t overlook its ability as a comic book reader, thanks to its ability to read comic book archives in CBR and CBZ format without needing to decompress them first.
They can also enjoy music, view photos, or install an add-on to enjoy live TV. But that’s just the basics of Kodi.
4. Using Kodi As a Server
Although users may be happy to watch videos on the computer where Kodi and their media are located, they may want to stream their media to another device. They’ll have to set up their Kodi as a UPnP server that other widgets their network will access. Users can find this option in the “Service Settings” page.
Then, they’ll load the Kodi software on that device such as their phone or Amazon Fire Stick that they want to watch on by select Videos > Files > Add Videos and clicking “UPnP Devices.” Users should see their computer on the list and be able to select the library, which they’ll be able to stream from.
5. Getting The Most Out of Kodi
Although Kodi is a powerful media player and library, users can do a bit more with it. For example, they can install add-ons such as PlutoTV, Spotify, SoundCloud, Youtube, or Crackle. Some Kodi add-ons are similar to the apps you can add to your smart TV or device; although, there are no official add-ons for big-name services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
Kodi add-ons go beyond video services, however. They can edit files, grab images for media, show the weather, set sleep timers, create slideshows, display song lyrics, and create a Web interface for others to access your media from, to name just a few. With thee add-ons, users can craft their ultimate Kodi experience.
Of particular note are PVR, or personal video recorder, clients for Kodi that allow users to record live TV similarly to DVRs. You can check out the add-ons repository on the Kodi website or the “Download” tab within Kodi itself to get started.
Even if users don’t need add-ons, they may enjoy changing how Kodi looks with skins, most of which come with their customization options. For example, the (fuse) neue is available in multiple color schemes, and other themes display rotating wallpapers known as “fanart” based on movie covers.
An option to change the zoom for themes is helpful if it’s difficult to read text when using Kodi on your TV.
Users are also want to consider a VPN for Kodi to encrypt their traffic, which prevents Internet Service Providers from seeing what files they’re accessing. Why is this important?
Some IPS block Kodi or specific add-ons, including those that allow streaming of video content. Some ISPs also do what is known as throttling, slowing down traffic. Whether the ISP intends to stop piracy or control bandwidth use, it can make it frustrating or even impossible to use Kodi.
A VPN can also help users get around content with region restrictions.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to install a VPN with Kodi because it works on so many different devices, but it’s easy enough to find tutorials to add a VPN to the specific device where Kodi is installed.
With so many options, Kodia can seem daunting. However, Kodi works out of the box, and users don’t have to customize it if they don’t want to.