- allows to look into the future
- brings all necessary codecs
- extensible via add-ons
- early pre-release, which is still unstable
Kodi (XBMC) 19 was last updated on Jan 15, 2021 and is available for download here in version RC1. XBMC has been called Kodi for some time now. You can test the pre-release version 19 of the “Entertainment Center” for free.
Kodi – formerly called XBMC – is a comprehensive, free and open source media center. Besides a media player that can handle many different file and streaming formats, it also includes a streaming server and client as well as recorder functions for recording live TV, add-ons and many other features.
Kodi Entertainment Center: Web streaming thanks to many plug-ins
Kodi sees itself as a full-fledged “entertainment center”. The most important formats and codecs are supported, so that there are hardly any problems during playback. In addition to media stored on the hard drive, Internet streams or files available in the network can also be played.
Services like YouTube, Shoutcast or Apple’s movie trailer site can be integrated via plug-ins. Kodi thus even functions as a file manager and RSS reader.
Media player, streaming and more on (almost) all platforms
Kodi copes with almost all common media formats. Whether music of the formats AAC, MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV or WMA, videos in ISO, 3D, H.264, HEVC, WEBM, MPEG-1/2/4, DivX or XviD files and streams or JPEG images and GIF animations – Kodi displays and plays. The players are supplemented by subtitles, equalizers and audio visualization features, for example, while photos and pictures can be displayed in extensively filterable slideshows. While the program itself of course does not include any media, it offers extensive functions to supplement your own collection with freely available information, tags, cover art and more. For example, you can include appropriate posters and graphic banners for your own digitized series collection or refine imported movies with trailers, movie posters, video extras and much more.
As befits a freeware, which is one of the best open source programs, Kodi runs under the common operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, as well as iOS and Android. Thus, you can use the media center on many different devices. Just to name a few: Amazon Fire TV (and Stick), Chromebox, Google Nexus Player, OUYA and Raspberry Pi. Thanks to UPnP streaming capabilities, you can stream your own media collection to the mentioned devices with Kodi and enjoy it on connected TVs, for example, which we also talk about in the blog post Streaming and managing media content with Kodi.
Live TV recorder, add-ons, skins and remote controls
In addition to the many media player functions, Kodi also offers a recorder for live TV and various convenience features. If you have the appropriate connection options, you can combine Kodi with media backends such as MediaPortal, MythTV, Tvheadend, VDR, NextPVR or Windows Media Center, and thus watch live TV – and also record programs directly via the Kodi user interface with the help of the recorder.
In addition, the media center can also be extensively customized with add-ons and skins thanks to its open source nature. In the add-ons category on the manufacturer’s website, there is a selection of graphic themes with which you can customize the look of Kodi to your own taste. In total, there are over 700 add-ons from various areas – in addition to skins, there are also additional sources for free video, audio or image media, screensavers, weather, game and service apps, as well as collections of song lyrics, metadata, subtitles and the like.
Once Kodi is set up as a media center, it can also be controlled using various remote controls. A list of supported hardware – including Playstation or XBox gamepads, by the way – can be found on the manufacturer’s website. A remote control app for iOS and Android devices is also available for free download.
If Kodi cannot play videos on the Android device, the hardware support may need to be turned off.