If you’ve been hearing the buzz about Kodi lately, you’re not alone — it is gaining momentum fast. What is Kodi? In the company’s own words, “Kodi is the ultimate entertainment centre.” It’s probably a fair description if you put that in the context of a media player.
What is Kodi? Kodi is a free open-source software media center. It runs on pretty much any platform, including Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS, so it’s an excellent way to access your media content across all of your devices. It has compatibility with many video and music formats, and it’s handy as a picture gallery.
There are some pleasing features, such as the ability to use metadata to organize your music and videos. Posters, fan art, trailers, and video extras can be imported to supplement your movie collection, too. Everything about the display and menu system is highly customizable. What you don’t get is any actual media content.
At the most basic level you could just end up using Kodi as nothing more than a file browser on your device, but it’s capable of so much more.
What is Kodi offering that other apps don’t?
Because Kodi is open-source, there are literally hundreds of add-ons and Kodi apps for Android which can be used to personalize and upgrade your experience. This really sets it apart from most of the media players out there.
Your first thought might be to sync your media libraries across multiple devices. This may just be possible over your local network — if not there’s an add-on that supports it. As long as your content is stored in a suitable location, Kodi can allow you to access it from anywhere on any device.
You can also watch and record live TV using Kodi. It might be a bit more of a hassle, depending on what you’re trying to access, but there are several available PVR add-ons for watching and record TV shows.
Kodi has a growing number of community-driven add-ons for online content like YouTube, Hulu, Grooveshark, and Pandora Radio, as well as extra skins and more. There are add-ons for almost anything relating to video, music, radio, and TV.
How easy is Kodi to use?
The Kodi interface and menu system is very intuitive — you don’t need a tech brain to use it. Its long list of supported file formats also makes things simple.
What is Kodi mainly used for? Despite being available on pretty much any device, the developers behind Kodi actually say it is designed with a home theater setup in mind, using a large screen rather than a monitor or phone. This means it can be controlled by mouse, touchscreen, or Kodi 18 voice, but it’s optimally navigated by remote control. Hundreds of different remotes and gamepads are supported, so compatibility is rarely an issue.
Things can get a bit more technical with the add-ons. Given the number available, and the variety of tasks they perform, not all of Kodi’s functionality can be easily explored by the lay user. Thankfully, Kodi has its own very helpful Kodi wiki to walk you through many of the scenarios you might face. We also have a guide to show you how to install Kodi.
Is Kodi legal?
If used as intended Kodi is absolutely legal, and officially it requires you to own all of the media content you stream through it. Using Kodi for any illegal activity is not condoned. You’re very unlikely to get into legal trouble for installing or using any of the add-ons from the official repository either.
However, given its flexibility, Kodi can’t really prevent all illegal activity like playing illegally downloaded movies or TV shows. There are also add-ons from unofficial locations which allow access to copyright-protected content.
Android Authority doesn’t condone using Kodi for any illegal activity.
Working out which unofficial add-ons are legal and which aren’t can be tricky. Laws in the U.S. and EU regarding streaming other content can be a little unclear too. Streaming often means the whole file never exists on your device at any one time. This means it can be less obvious if your actions are a copyright violation than downloading a movie via torrent with apps such as Popcorn Time apk.
The only surefire way you know you’re not infringing any copyright laws is to only use Kodi’s official add-ons. If you’re going to be more adventurous and try some unofficial offerings, proceed at your own risk.
Now I know what Kodi is, are there risks?
Accidentally or not, if you end up streaming something illegal, your internet service provider (ISP) may notice. After all, everything you do online goes through your ISP, and it might not take kindly to you abusing its service. It could decide to throttle your connection speed, or even cancel your contract altogether.
Law enforcement agencies can also potentially trace illegal streaming back to you as well. Your IP address is regularly logged when you are online, and this can be used to identify your account. Knowing what is Kodi, is not enough to protect you.
If you’re worried about who is watching you, you can always mask your activity with a virtual private network (VPN).
How does A VPN help?
Connecting to the internet using a VPN encrypts your data before it leaves your device. No other party can decrypt it — only your device and the VPN server. That way your ISP won’t be able to read the data you send through it. This gives you a little extra piece of mind if you are conscientious about your privacy.
Your traffic is also rerouted through a server in a different location, often in a different country, which changes the associated IP address.
In effect the VPN spoofs your location, which be used to stream geo-locked content through Kodi.
What makes a good Kodi VPN?
There are dozens of VPN providers to choose from, and they vary in quality. Some of them are free, but there are several reasons these are not going to be appropriate for use with Kodi. Most are hugely oversubscribed, and have a small download limit. The best VPNs aren’t free, but they’re not necessarily expensive either.
A VPN can slow your connection down, which can seriously affect your Kodi experience. You should look for a VPN with proven fast speeds. You’ll also want to choose a provider that doesn’t keep activity log, and has an built-in kill switch for your connection if the VPN fails for any reason.
There are other desirable attributes for any VPN too: Ease of use, good customer support, strong encryption protocols, and having a high number of servers in many different locations.
There are some excellent VPN providers out there. ExpressVPN is regularly cited as one of the best all-round VPNs, and we came to the same conclusion with our review. It has all the features mentioned above, and in particular offers excellent connection speeds through most of its servers. Video always streams well, so it’s ideal for Kodi. Looking for other options? Don’t forget to check out our reviews of SaferVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, and PureVPN.
- 10 best Kodi add-ons you should try out
- Kodi vs Plex — which one is right for you?
- How to install Kodi on your Chromebook
Now that you know what is Kodi, will you be using it? Let us know.
If you want to check out our Kodi VPN pick, follow the link below.