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Kodi has slowly but surely made an impression on anyone who wants to share content around the home.

The service has actually been available since 2002, when it was known as the Xbox Media Player. In 2003, it became the Xbox Media Center, which it remained until 2014. Then the XBMC Foundation, which works behind the scenes to deliver the service, renamed it Kodi.

Regardless of the name, Kodi provides access to streaming media content, including videos and music, and it offers a way to store and watch that content around the home. Better yet, it works across just about every major operating system and across hundreds of devices

What is Kodi and is it legal? A beginner’s guide to the home media server

WIRED explains the media server that’s quietly grown to dominate home streaming

Whether you’ve only just begun the process of digitising your movie and music collection, or long since abandoned physical media, chances are you’ve heard mention of Kodi. Essentially a tool to bring all your content together in one place, and share it across numerous devices, it’s a well-known commodity in more technically-minded corners of the internet.

As networked home media centres become more appealing and easier to set up though, the attraction of Kodi is reaching more mainstream viewers. Here, WIRED explains the media server software that’s quietly grown to dominate home streaming, and how it can operate as an all-in-one hub for your film, music, and television content.

What is Kodi?

A free, open source piece of media centre software that can run on anything from your Android phone to your home PC, and plenty of other devices in between. It began life as XBMP – Xbox Media Player – in 2002, before evolving into the better known XBMC, or Xbox Media Centre, released in 2004.

Kodi can serve as a hub for all your movies, and tap into online databases to provide information on them
Kodi / XBMC Foundation

Designed as a way to control all your digital media from a central hub in the home, it originally ran on the first Xbox – albeit only if you had a modchip installed or hacked the console, as the independently-written program wasn’t authorised by Microsoft. A huge hit in the modder community, it’s been expanded on by numerous coders but is largely overseen by the XBMC Foundation.

In August 2014, long after splitting support for the original Xbox onto its own software fork, XBMC was rebranded as Kodi. The name change helped establish it as a multifaceted media centre in its own right, no longer associated by name with Microsoft’s aged console. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the most popular home streaming tools around.

What can it do?

Effectively turn any or all of your gadgets into part of a digital streaming hub, connected wirelessly in the home or across the internet. Once installed, Kodi allows you to draw on music, photos, movies, and TV shows stored on one device, and play them on another. It can also stream and record live TV, supports electronic programme guides, and smartphone apps let you use your phone as a remote control.

With the right add-on, Kodi can be used to watch and even record live TV broadcasts
Kodi / XBMC Foundation

As a player, Kodi is incredibly versatile, supporting just about any file format for audio and video, making it a great central hub for shows and music bought from multiple sources. An exhaustive list of just how many file types it can play back can be found here. It also taps into online databases such as The TVDB and MusicBrainz to help categorise your content.

What sets it apart though is the customisation on offer. As it’s open source, there are countless plug-ins and add-ons to be found that can add new features or services to Kodi, such as dedicated YouTube and Vimeo apps, radio station integration, weather forecasts, and software including IRC chat and email clients. Kodi itself can be fully skinned, and if you’re feeling bold you can even play around with the code to create your own tools.

What can I use Kodi on?

Almost anything. There’s a build available on practically every product that has a processor in it somewhere, and you’ll even be able to buy media centre boxes ready made for use with Kodi.

The major distributions are for Windows, OSX, Linux, and Android devices, but you’ll also find versions for Raspberry Pi (there’s even custom Pi cases emblazoned with Kodi), Amazon Fire TV, and dedicated but obscure boxes such as WeTek Play.

There are a couple of caveats to the above though. If you wanted Kodi on your iPhone, there’s no authorised iOS version. The ban is supposedly because Apple frowns upon the ability to install third-party apps on Kodi, which would not have been vetted by the Cupertino giant and could present security holes. If you’re set on getting Kodi on iPhone, you’ll require a jailbroken device.

There’s also no Windows Phone version at present, and currently no sign of one coming from either official developers or third parties.

There are literally hundreds of user-created skins available for Kodi, which allow you to personalise your player
Kodi / XBMC Foundation

Curiously, given Kodi’s origins on the Xbox, there are no versions that run on games consoles. This is likely due to the closed ecosystem of modern consoles, which are designed to only allow content authorised by the provider and prevent piracy – think Sony removing the OtherOS feature from PlayStation 3 as another example of locking down hardware.

However, one of the earlier Kodi forks is still in operation as XBMC4Xbox. If you happen to still have a first-generation Xbox lying around, you could conceivable repurpose it as a home media hub.

Why would I use Kodi?

Freedom and flexibility are the main attractions of Kodi. Provided you have an internet connection, it means you’re never removed from your content when you’re on the go, while in the home it allows you to pull media stored in different locations and libraries, and play it on one central hub – the main living room TV, for instance.

Kodi also offers an incredible amount of control over your media files, providing far more video and audio options than most other player software does. Even subtitles can be given an expert’s touch, with controls allowing you to adjust the offset speed so text perfectly aligns with speech.

It’s also entirely community-lead, with every minor alteration between versions and a wealth of other information archived on its dedicated wiki.

How do I use it?

Start by downloading an installer in a format to your liking. Installation is fast, and each time you do something new, the software tends to provide a one-off mini-tutorial, making it easy to pick up the basics.

Add-ons are at the heart of Kodi’s popularity, allowing you to access other streaming services, apps, and even games
Kodi / XBMC Foundation

To make the most of Kodi, you’ll want to install some of those add-ons we mentioned above. There are two ways of doing this – one, you can download individual mods from their creators, or from a repository such as SuperRepo. A full list of add-ons can also be found on the Kodi Wiki.

To install an individual add-on you’ve downloaded, click through ‘system’ on the main Kodi screen, then ‘settings’, ‘add-ons’, and ‘install from zip file’. You’ll then be able to select the zip from wherever you saved it. Don’t extract the zip package yourself beforehand though – Kodi handles that as it installs.

Playing media is as simple as browsing through storage locations on your networked devices – Kodi has a built-in Universal Plug and Play server to help with this – and hitting play. Similar to Apple TV, the software is designed for a 10-foot user interface, making it easy to browse folders and view content on the big screen as easily as you would sat in front of a monitor. Then, simply sit back and enjoy.

Is Kodi legal?

Kodi itself emphatically is – it’s merely a piece of software, as legal as any other distributed under the GNU General Public Licence. However, just as a torrent client can be used as either a legitimate way to distribute files or to share illegally uploaded content, so too can Kodi be used for less reputable pursuits.

The XBMC Foundation is remarkably transparent in what Kodi actually is, though. The source code for all supported platforms is available on GitHub, and the creators work with the Software Freedom Law Center, which advises on issues including copyright and trademarking.

However, given the open-source nature of Kodi, some of the compatible plug-ins and add-ons can be used for less reputable access to content. Essentially, the onus is on you to use Kodi responsibly, but it’s completely legal to have a build of the media centre itself on any device you own.

At the start of May, an EU court ruled that using a multimedia player – such as Kodi, although Kodi wasn’t explicilty mentioned – to stream pirated video content online is subject to similar laws as those governing the downloading of an illegal copy.

Downloading an illegally copied show, film or game constitutes copyright infringment because you’re effectively “stealing” and keeping a copy. However, with streaming, the file is stored temporarily on your computer, and temporary copies have traditionally been exempt from copyright laws.

Under the new ruling, the temporary reproduction of a copyright-protected work, obtained without consent of the copyright holder, is not exempt from the “right of reproduction”. No person other than the copyright owner can make any reproductions or copies of the work.

This means that anyone who streams an illegally copied film or TV show is breaking the law, just as they would be if they downloaded it because streaming “adversely affects the normal exploitation of those works and causes unreasonable prejudice to the legitimate interests of the copyright holders”.

Put more simply, copyright owners are losing money when people stream content for free without paying.

As the ruling explains: “In the present case and having regard, in particular, to the content of the advertising of the multimedia player and to the fact that the main attraction of that player for potential purchasers is the pre-installation of the add-ons concerned, the Court finds that the purchaser of such a player accesses a free and unauthorised offer of protected works deliberately and in full knowledge of the circumstances.”

Best Kodi Builds 2017

Fire TV Guru 
How To Install Kodi Fire TV Guru Build Kodi 17.4
Fire TV Guru is a very good lite Build that works on most any type of hardware including Fire TV Stick, Android TV boxes, and computers.

The layout is simple and nice and uses the Xonfire Skin.
Best Kodi builds Agust 2017 Fire TV Guru

It also comes with all the latest best Kodi addons for movies, TV shows, and sports installed.
Best Kodi builds Agust 2017 Fire TV Guru 2

The install wizard had versions for Krypton and Jarvis along with a Build specifically for Fire Sticks.
Best Kodi builds Agust 2017 Fire TV Guru 3

How To Install Fire TV Guru

Pulse CCM 
Our Picks For The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Pulse CCM
Pulse CCM is a top Kodi Build that has been around for sometime and continuously updated.

It uses the Xonfluence Skin for a nice clean layout that is close to the Jarvis Confluence Skin with minor adjustments.
Our Picks For The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Pulse CCM 2

Like other top Builds it comes with all the latest and best addons.
Our Picks For The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Pulse CCM 3
There is sections for TV shows, Movies, Sports, Live TV and more. This is a good Build if you want lots-and-lots of add-ons that will stream lots-and-lots of content.

How To Install Pulse CCM Kodi Build

How to Install Titanium Kodi Build

Titanium is a very popular Build that is well laid out with sections for sports, TV, Movies and more.
Our Picks for Best Kodi Builds 2017 TITANIUM 1

Like most Builds it comes with all the latest working add-ons installed.
Our Picks for Best Kodi Builds 2017 TITANIUM 2

It uses the Xonfluence Skin which is almost the same as the older default Kodi Skin Confluence.
Our Picks for Best Kodi Builds 2017 TITANIUM 3

How to Install Titanium

Tomb Raider Krypton 
Tomb Raider Build Kodi 17.3 Krypton Pic 3
For those looking for Kodi Krypton Build Tomb Raider Krypton is a good one to start with.

As with most builds it has all the best add-ons installed for movies, sports, TV shows, and live TV.
Tomb Raider Build Kodi 17.3 Krypton Pic 9

If you are running Kodi Krypton and need a good Build Tomb Raider Krypton is worth a look.
Tomb Raider Build Kodi 17.3 Krypton Pic 2

How To Install Tomb Raider Krypton 

XENON Build 
Xenon Build Screenshot 1
XENON is a good Build for the Fire Stick or Android TV boxes.

It even has a section for Android devices and popular Android APKs for videos and games.
Xenon Build Screenshot 7

It has many sections in an easy to use interface including movies, TV shows, live TV, sports and much more.

It comes with all the latest working add-ons such as Covenant, BoB Unleashed , Specto Fork, Duck Pool and many more.

The sports section is divided into sports categories such as NFL, MLB, Golf, and so on.

It also includes the top APKs such as Mobdro and Live Hub.

How To Install XENON 

Spinz TV Fury Reloaded 
Top best Kodi Builds July 2017 Spinz TV pic 1
SpinzTV has had many good Builds over the years including Fury Reloaded.

The menu is at the top along with all the sub menus and options.
Top best Kodi Builds July 2017 Spinz TV

It comes with all the latest working addons and includes a dedicated Sports section.
Top best Kodi Builds July 2017 Spinz TV pic 2

It also includes movies, TV Shows Live TV and a Kids section.
Top best Kodi Builds July 2017 Spinz TV pic 3

How To Install Spinz TV Fury Reloaded

Cellular Door TV
The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Krypton and Jarvis July Cellular Door TV 1
Cellular Door TV Build is another good option. It has been available for awhile and constantly updated.

Like other Builds it come with the current top working Kodi addons such as Exodus, Elysium, UK Turks Playlist and much more.
The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Krypton and Jarvis July Cellular Door TV 3

The sections are divided up into movies, TV shows, sports, kids zone, and music. Each sections has its own sub categories.
The Top Best Kodi Builds 2017 Krypton and Jarvis July Cellular Door TV 5

How To Install Cellular Door TV

Hard Nox by Spinz TV
Top Best Kodi Build 2017 Hard Nox by Spinz TV Pic 1
Hard Nox from Spinz TV is a nice build with a good layout.

It pulls streams from popular add-ons such as Exodus and Phoenix.
Top Best Kodi Build 2017 Hard Nox by Spinz TV Pic 2

Most streams are from Exodus but it can switch to other add-ons such as Phoenix for some sub menus for example here for Divas Den.
Top Best Kodi Build 2017 Hard Nox by Spinz TV Pic 3

It has a lot of sections including a dedicated war and western section.
Top Best Kodi Build 2017 Hard Nox by Spinz TV Pic 4
How To Install Hard Nox by Spinz TV 

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