Kodi Review: Using Kodi (XBMC) To Watch TV, Sports, & MoreBy Steph Myers / November 30, 2016 / Tags: Kodi
Here we review Kodi, the popular media player, including the user experience, available content, ease of use, and security.
Kodi (formerly called XBMC) is one of the most popular media players out there. It has a loyal (sometimes fiercely so) user base. But it can be somewhat confusing for newcomers. Plus, legal and security issues are never far from any discussion about Kodi.
So to help you sort out the pros and cons here is our Kodi review, geared toward the average person who wants to use Kodi to watch TV, sports, movies, and more.
Overview Of Kodi
Kodi is a media player. It’s also called a home entertainment platform. It is simply a software application you can use to both organize and enjoy all kinds of media: videos, movies, episodes of TV shows, photos, music, and live streaming content from the internet.
Kodi doesn’t come with any content on it. You have to put your own content on Kodi, or else stream it from the internet. Using Kodi to stream TV, live sports, and other entertainment content is what has made it so popular.
To stream content on Kodi, you use Kodi add-ons. There are lots and lots of add-ons you can use to watch just about anything you want — any channel or streaming service (HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, ESPN, Amazon Video, BBC, FX, AMC, and much more).
There are two kinds of add-ons: official and unofficial. The unofficial add-ons are especially popular because these are the add-ons that will let you watch all those great channels and streaming services for free. Yes, free.
Is Kodi legal? It’s an issue of debate (covered in depth here). The short answer is that it probably comes down to how one uses Kodi. If you use it to watch copyrighted content without the copyright holder’s permission, then you’re in murky legal waters. You will definitely need to take steps to stay secure and anonymous on Kodi, by always using a VPN.
First, we are reviewing the official version of Kodi that you can download on kodi.tv. Some people may buy a device (like Amazon Fire Stick) that comes with Kodi already installed. This is NOT what we’re reviewing here. Kodi has been altered when purchased in this form and tends to be very buggy and crummy. So stay away from buying any device with Kodi loaded on it by some “developer.” Here’s the easy way to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick if you want to use it on those streaming devices.
Kodi gets 5/5 stars on cost. That’s because Kodi is free.
It’s free to download and free to use. Even most of the add-ons are free. It doesn’t get any better than that.
For compatibility, Kodi gets another 5/5 stars. Kodi works on lots of different devices: Android, iOS, Mac and Windows computers, Amazon Fire devices, and more. It’s very easy to download and install.
Kodi gets 4/5 stars for the user experience. Kodi is a very slick platform with an intuitive, pleasing user interface. You can customize the look and home screen. It is every bit as shiny and smooth as other, much pricier home media platforms.
While Kodi is intuitive for the most part, it loses a star because finding the content you want to watch on Kodi can be tricky. Sometimes, it’s downright frustrating.
Installing add-ons can also be confusing, especially for beginners. Some of the unofficial add-ons are the most confusing. (Though we do our best to simplify the process in our beginner’s guide on how to use Kodi.)
Kodi gets 4/5 stars for its streaming. By that, we mean using Kodi to stream content from the internet.
The biggest ‘pros’ are that you can watch just about anything you want — and for free. Kodi has powerful live TV and DVR/PVR abilities. That means you can stream live TV, live sports, full episodes of shows, movies, and more.
On the ‘cons’ side the stream quality can be poor at times with some third-party add-ons. This is a consequence of the price tag. Some people don’t mind dealing with buffering or stalled connections when they’re watching TV for free, but some would rather pay a little for a better streaming experience.
Kodi gets 5/5 stars for available content. There are literally thousands of Kodi add-ons.
You can install add-ons to get access to just about any sports event, show, movie, and channel you want. The content on some add-ons is blocked for users in foreign countries (countries outside the add-on’s home country). But it’s easy to unblock Kodi add-ons, so this isn’t a big detractor.
SECURITY & PRIVACY
Kodi only gets 1/5 stars for security and online privacy. Unfortunately, Kodi’s security issues are a real concern. Users are vulnerable to hackers, as well as spies intent on monitoring their activity or stealing personal information. That may include federal and corporate interests looking to catch copyright violators.
⊕ RELATED: How To Set Up Kodi With A VPN
Therefore, it is highly recommended you use Kodi with a VPN. A VPN will keep you anonymous on Kodi, and secure your connection so you can’t be hacked or tracked. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind while streaming lots of great content.
Kodi gets 2/5 stars for technical support. Basically, there is none.
Since Kodi is free, you’re on your own with how to use it and troubleshoot any problems. The Kodi community forum is very active, and you can post questions there for other members to answer. But it’s pretty hit-and-miss, as with most user support forums.
Kodi Review: Final Grade
Overall, we give Kodi 3.7/5 stars. It is extremely powerful, flexible, and enjoyable to use. Kodi loses points because of its security and privacy vulnerabilities. These can be overcome with a trustworthy VPN, but we’re docking it anyway. Also, it can be hard for beginners and those with less tech-savvy to learn how to use Kodi.
BOTTOM LINE: All in all, if you’re looking for a media player, it’s worth giving Kodi a try. Since it’s free, you don’t have much to lose.
A final note about the legal issues: Even though you can use Kodi to watch copyrighted content for free — that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s a great media player when used with only the official Kodi add-ons. Indeed, this is how we recommend you use Kodi. (Though you will still need to protect yourself from the security and privacy vulnerabilities.)
But, since all that free stuff is so very tempting, it does no good to ignore the fact that a huge number of Kodi users are streaming bootlegged content. So if that’s you — and, hey, we’re not here to judge — just know the risks and how to avoid them.
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