KODI – An Introduction
In the early days of high-definition LCD and Plasma Televisions, media players were indispensable in their ability to play back high-definition files stored on USB drives. These devices were pretty simple – instead of using optical discs to store music or movies, they used hard drives, which lets you store a huge number of media files.
Lately, with the advent of streaming media, we find ourselves streaming from online services such as YouTube or NETFLIX more and more and downloading less and less.
So if you are thinking about upgrading your old media player, or just want to maximise that 4K TV you just bought, you will probably find yourself choosing between from a myriad number of “Kodi Boxes” or “Android Media Players” that run KODI.
Just what is KODI? How does it work and why is it so popular?
XBMC to KODI – an Evolution
KODI used to be called XBMC or XBOX Media Center. XBMC was popular in the 2000s before dedicated media players were ‘a thing’. Xbox Owners would install XBMC and turn their gaming console into a media centre, not only letting them play back pretty much any video or audio format but also add cover art and media information, greatly enhancing their media viewing experience.
As XBMC moved beyond XBOX as a platform, they renamed themselves to KODI. KODI can be installed in pretty much any kind of device, including phones, tablets, Android TV boxes and PC’s.
Best of all, KODI remained free and open source, which contributed to its popularity as well.
What Can KODI Do?
Or what can’t it do? If it’s a media file, KODI can play it. It supports most of the popular formats, containers and encodings. You won’t need a fancy home theatre setup to make it work: just connect your player to your TV and off it goes. The best part is, it can also take advantage of surround sound setups, outputting up to 7.1 audio or even Dolby Atmos.
Specifically, KODI can do the following things:
- Playback media files – both video and audio, stored on your USB drives, on Network Drives (through Network Attached Storage – NAS or even on shared folders on your PC) or streaming media via the Internet.
- KODI also organizes your library – it can sort out video and audio files and even sort out types of video files – whether its a single, stand-alone movie, a movie series or TV series. It also automatically downloads cover art and meta information so you can get to know more about what you’re watching.
- Most of all, KODI supports a HUGE ecosystem of Add-Ons that extend the functionality of the app. These range from app-based remotes, to streaming services (such as YouTube and ABC). It also provides additional functionality that greatly enhances your viewing or listening experience.
Add-Ons deserve their own article, which we’ll do in future instalments.
How to use KODI
The easiest way to use kodi will be to buy ‘kodi’ boxes – usually Android-based media players (like the Vero 4K+), which is the best KODI out of the box experience.
You can also download and install KODI on most devices, including your Windows PC and your Android phone. Bad news for iPhone users though – you’d need to jailbreak your iDevice first before being able to install KODI.
Once you have KODI installed, you can start playing back files from your USB drives. If you want to stream, you can start playing around with Add-Ons (which we’ll cover in another article) which gives you access to services such as YouTube.
Other Things You Can Do With KODI
Most of the fun KODI Add-Ons are stored in other “repositories” or download sites. These Add-Ons are usually the work of independent developers not related to KODI and sometimes come with a caveat – either in terms of legality or in possible breaches of security through poorly (or maliciously) developed Add-Ons.
As with all things, use a dash of caution and read before you install and it is usually better to stick with better-known Add-Ons and skip the more obscure ones.
With the right Add-Ons though, you can do the following:
- Customize your user interface.
- Watch Live TV or Video on Demand.
- Install an app-based remote control.
We hope this gave you a better understanding of what KODI is and what it can do. On its own, KODI is a powerful media centre app made even more functional with its huge ecosystem of Add-Ons.
The easiest way to get started will be to get a WeTek Hub or Play 2 and start watching – you won’t even need a USB drive! A 5 mbps DSL connection is enough to get you started watching high-definition streams.
Stay tuned for more articles regarding KODI, including how to set up popular Add-Ons! If you have more questions, please feel free to visit our Facebook Page or make a comment down below. Happy viewing!