The Kodi Media Center is one of the best programs around for online streaming. Not only can Kodi give you easy access to your favorite TV shows and movies, but you can also use it to access live TV from all across the world easily. For a newcomer, getting started with Kodi can easily begin by reviewing our Ultimate Guide to Kodi.
Below, you’ll find everything you’ll need to get started with Kodi. We include a basic breakdown of what Kodi is, what the media center can do, and provide some basic facts Kodi’s development history. Additionally, you’ll discover answers to some of your important questions, like Kodi’s legality, the importance of using a VPN, and why it’s a very good idea to join a Kodi community.
Before We Proceed
Kodi gives users easy access to TV and movie streaming using a large number of popular addons. However, some Kodi users have received copyright notifications from their ISPs after streaming. Most Kodi users turn to virtual private networks, or VPNs, to help hide their identity while streaming. Of the popular VPNs we’ve tested, we recommend IPVanish.
IPVanish is one of the fastest VPN services we’ve tested. However, the benefit for Kodi users is the fact that IPVanish uses several different methods to help ensure your privacy is protected. That includes using a no-logs policy, heavy encryption, and a kill switch for your programs just in case their service inadvertently goes down. IPVanish also maintains a large number of servers all across the world, making it easier to access the type of content you want.
What is Kodi?
There’s a good chance you know some basics about what Kodi can do. But you may be wondering what it’s all about. Put simply, Kodi is an open-source, multimedia software designed to play almost any type of media file. Whether it’s the DVD sitting in your computer, the movie you recorded of your last vacation or an online stream of your favorite anime, Kodi has been built up over the past decade to help deliver the ultimate multimedia experience.
Even better, Kodi works on almost every type of operating system. Because it’s open source and highly popular, Kodi’s third-party development community has worked diligently (and usually for free) to create plugins and extensions that have turned Kodi into the most versatile media player on the web. This means anything from playing DVDs, to online streaming, to running easily on a Raspberry PI. All of that work is the product of thousands of hours from hundreds of developers.
Want to know more about what Kodi is in detail? Check out our longer, more detailed piece: What is Kodi? Everything You Need To Know About Kodi.
The History of Kodi
Kodi’s development history is an interesting one. The application originally began as a multimedia program on the original Xbox back in 2002. When it first came out, the program we now call “Kodi” was known as the Xbox Media Center. Soon shortened to XBMC, the program’s original developers designed XBMC (Kodi) as more of a small side project. The first versions could play movie files, music files, and display weather, but could do very little else. However, as the program grew, added developers, and added features, it quickly outgrew the original Xbox that it started on, and eventually dropped support for the Xbox altogether.
Over time, the program grew so popular that the original developers decided to not only incorporate (forming the XBMC Foundation) but to drum up support and funding to make XBMC development a priority. Current versions of Kodi no longer work with the Xbox. However, you will find that, over time, it has been developed to work with Windows, iOS, OSX, Android, and Linux, and there are many devices designed to make Kodi a central feature of anyone’s home entertainment system.
Want to learn more about the interest twists and turns that the XBMC – now Kodi Media Center – took since it was first released in 2002? Check out our more extensive article: A Brief History of Kodi: Key Moments in the XBMC/Kodi History.
What Can Kodi Be Used For?
If you’ve heard about Kodi’s streaming abilities, you’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. While most people who use Kodi do come to the program for its excellent ability to pull and render online streams from different sources, Kodi is far more capable than that. In fact, the latest release version of Kodi, Version 17.1 “Krypton”, can do all of the following:
- TV ShowsPictures
- Live TV, Radio, and PVR
- Skins and builds
- Web Interfaces
- Remote Controls
Understandably, some of these may not be immediately obvious as to what they are. UPnP, for example, is a fairly technical Kodi function that allows two computers running Kodi to interoperate so that you can stream media stored on one device onto another one. Meanwhile, PVR, or “Personal Video Recorder,” is a function within Kodi that allows you to record live, over the air television as long as you have the correct external equipment.
The most popular features available for Kodi, including viewing TV shows, movies, music, live TV, and radio, are all accomplished using Kodi’s unique addon architecture. Indeed, Kodi’s addons, which are a form of plugin that you install onto your Kodi in a similar way to browser plugins for Firefox or Chrome, allow you to do pretty much anything.
Want more detail on how Kodi uses addons, and how Kodi’s many features work? Check out our more detailed article: What Can Kodi be Used For? Kodi User Guide and Major Addons.
Is Kodi Legal?
Many new and experienced Kodi users may wonder about whether Kodi is legal to use. This issue is fairly complex, but there are some easy and some more complicated ways to answer the question. Let’s start with the simple.
Is Kodi legal? Yes!
When you first download the Kodi Media Center, it is empty. The program is offered “bare-bones” so to speak, so there’s little you can do with it beyond play media files that are already on your computer, or from an external physical source, such as an external hard drive, DVD, CD, or flash drive. With those uses, Kodi is completely legal anywhere and everywhere.
Is Kodi streaming legal? It’s complicated.
The real legal gray area for Kodi’s legality exists with online streaming. Some Kodi addons sit stream content that’s in a legally gray area. That means that the law in most places is a bit unclear as to whether it is or is not legal to stream certain types of content over Kodi. However, in some uses, Kodi streaming is illegal. Specifically, torrenting copyrighted material through Kodi would be considered illegal.
Most Kodi users who utilize torrenting addons and other streaming addons will turn to VPNs as a method to remain anonymous while streaming.
Kodi legality issues can be a bit complex at times. To read more about Kodi legal issues, including where Kodi TV boxes fall, we suggest out our longer article on the topic: Is Kodi Legal? Legal Issues for Kodi and Kodi TV Boxes.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Kodi
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have been around for decades. The technology works by allowing an individual user to connect to a remote server through an encrypted connection. Traditionally, this was often used by businesses to allow remote workers to connect to private company servers. However, nowadays VPNs are primarily used by individuals who want to keep their browsing habits private and prevent snooping from ISPs and governments.
Remote access to the Web is something VPN services specialize in. VPN companies like IPVanish target their service to individuals interested in private internet Web browsing and online streaming. For Kodi users, VPNs may because useful due to the legal gray areas that can exist with some third-party addons.
When connecting to streams through Kodi, a VPN will work by masking your internet activity. Your internet service provider (ISP) will only be able to see how much data you are uploading and downloading, but will not be able to see where that data is coming from or going to.
We’ve reviewed several some different VPN services, including IPVanish, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, and Buffered. Our reviews focused on a detailed, data-driven approach. We ranked each of those popular services as well in our larger guide to the Best Kodi VPNs.
When looking for a great Kodi VPN, we suggest focusing on the following:
- A no-logs policy
- A large number of servers
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Fast servers
- High-level encryption standards
- IP and DNS leak protection
Our preferred program, IPVanish, scored high marks on all of those areas. However, be sure to read our individual IPVanish review, as well as our comparative guide on the Best Kodi VPNs to get a complete picture.
There are also other reasons you might want to consider before streaming through Kodi. We go into more detail about why a VPN is a good idea for Kodi in our article: Why do I need a VPN for Kodi? – 3 VPN Benefits You Should Know.
Install Kodi on Different Devices
Kodi works on many different devices. Whether you’re looking to add Kodi to a new Fire TV stick, or using an Android mobile device, Kodi will work. There are some limitations, however. Kodi will not work on very closed operating systems, and even some devices that run popular operating systems like Android make the installation process somewhat difficult.
From our research, however, Android devices make the best Kodi devices, while Windows and Mac computers running OSX come in a close second. Installing Kodi on most Android devices is quick and easy (right from the Google Play Store!) while you can easily install Kodi onto a Windows or Mac computer directly from the official website. We suggest checking out our larger guide: How Do I Setup Kodi? Installing Kodi on Different Devices.
From our experience, Kodi TV boxes are the best way to view Kodi as well. You can learn more about Kodi TV boxes in our pieces: What Is a Kodi box? An In-depth Look Into 4 Kodi Devices and Best Kodi TV Boxes 2017 – Android TV Box Reviews and Ratings.
We’ve also detailed out the which operating systems are the best for Kodi, and why. You can read more about which operating systems are easy and difficult for Kodi installation in our longer guide: What is the Best Device to Run Kodi? – Best Kodi Devices 2017.
Finally, there’s nothing that will make your Kodi TV box experience better than a good remote. Most TV boxes you can purchase come with remotes, but these are often of somewhat poor quality. Check out our guide on The Best Kodi Remotes and Keyboards.
Kodi Addons and Repositories
Kodi’s addon infrastructure is what brings new users in all the time. But one of the most difficult parts of being a new Kodi user (and an even an experienced user) is trying to keep up with new addons. Addons come and go all the time, and addon developers are constantly improving on their older models with updated versions. For example, the popular Goodfellas addon was updated to a Goodfellas 2.0 version several months ago, while the popular Exodus addon recently changed hands after a major security by the original developer.
In general, you’ll find that there are four major addon categories:
- Live Sports Addons such as SportsDevil and ProSport
- Live TV Addons such as cCloud TV and BBC iPlayer
- Movie Addons such as Exodus and Specto
- On-Demand TV Addons such as Bob Unrestricted and Phoenix
You’ll find it fairly easy to install these addons using our helpful installation guides, and you’ll find even more option by checking out our longer guides for Live Sports, Live TV, Movies, and TV Shows.
However, you may want to consider addon repositories as a faster way to get the addons you want.
What are Kodi repositories?
Kodi repositories are an easy way to install more addons quickly and easily. Kodi’s addon infrastructure is part of what keeps the program so popular, but there are hundreds of great addons out there that you might want to try. And while you can add addons individually, you’ll easily find yourself spending more time than you’d like installing addons and looking for new addons if you’re doing it one-by-one.
Instead, your best bet is to install popular addon repositories. Addon repositories are folders that will often house multiple addons as well as all of the requisite files needed to make those addons work. For repositories, there are two primary kinds: developer repositories and super repositories.
Developer repositories are often smaller and usually only host files from a single developer. Some even have only one addon in them, especially if it’s a particularly popular addon. At times, some addons are only available from one developer’s repository. MettleKettle’s Repository is an example of a popular developer option.
Super repositories are those that house a large number of different developer repositories or simply host a large number of different addons and those addons’ dependency files. When you download a super repository, you are often gaining access to hundreds of video, music, and program addons. Installing a super repository will save you a lot of time and open up the possibility for you to find brand new addons you may not have read about on Kodi guide websites. The Official Kodi Repository and Fusion (Indigo) are examples of popular super repos.
Interested in learning more about addon repositories and the best Kodi addon repositories around? Check out our longer article on the topic: Best Kodi Repositories and Addons – Kodi Repository and Addon Guide.
What are Kodi Builds?
When you download Kodi for the first time, the program is fairly simple. It comes with no addons, so it has only limited use at first. However, if you’re interested in having all of the best Kodi addons from the start, you might be interested in downloading and installing a Kodi build.
Kodi builds are community-developed versions of Kodi that often come with a theme that change the skin, or look, of Kodi, and come completely loaded with a large number of popular addons. Kodi builds don’t always follow with the current Kodi version, however. As builds are made by community members and require special coding, Kodi builds may be a version of two behind the latest Kodi version. Nevertheless, builds can help personalize your Kodi experience, add unique functionality, and best of all, get you up and streaming with Kodi much faster than a bare bones installation.
Want to learn more about Kodi builds? Check out our guide on the Best Kodi Builds for April 2017, with a focus on the newest Kodi version, Krypton.
Builds change often, so be sure to check out are Kodi Builds section regularly for new, updated guides.
Kodi Not Working? Fixing Kodi Issues and Other Useful Tips
As Kodi has developed over the years, it’s become more complicated for the average user. With so many working parts, it’s easy for some things to simply…go wrong. Occasionally, you’ll find Kodi not working the way it should. Some streams may fail to load properly, you may get stuck in with annoying buffering, and addons may simply stop working for seemingly no reason. All of this can be frustrating for a new user. Thankfully, fixing Kodi issues is pretty easy with the right guides.
If you’re looking to get the most benefit out of your Kodi streaming experience, we suggest you check out our longer guide: The Most Useful Kodi Tips: Fix Kodi Issues and Get the Most Out of Kodi.
Staying Involved: The Best Kodi Communities
Trying to keep up with all of the many changes in Kodi can be hard if you’re not actively involved in a Kodi community. There are a good number of Kodi communities out there that are perfect for new users and experienced users alike. The best part of these communities is that you don’t have to join to benefit from them. You can simply bookmark the sites and pop in whenever you want to learn about new addons, new developments, or interesting news.
Many users may turn directly to the official source: The Kodi Community Forum. There, you’ll find a lot of information for newcomers, although the forum itself is not as user-friendly as some of the other forums around. However, the official Kodi Community Forum at Kodi.tv is a great place to get in contact with official members of the XBMC Foundation and well-known developers for the program. You’ll also be able to stay up-to-date on new versions and interesting program developments.
Meanwhile, Reddit communities, like /r/Addons4Kodi, take the crown for the most active and the most number users. That said, there are other communities out there that you may want to join or at least follow from a distance as a casual observer. To learn more about Kodi communities and what they offer, check out our longer guide: Getting Involved with Kodi: Best Kodi Forums and Kodi Communities.