More and more people are cancelling cable and “cutting the cord”, then just using the Internet to watch TV. Most modern flat screen TV’s are equipped with apps, and most of us seem to have at least Netflix and Amazon video – and some have added Hulu. There are also all kinds of devices you can buy, like the Amazon Fire stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, and the Roku. These are all the normal ways people cut the cord and cancel cable.
However, there is something new that’s getting a lot of mainstream attention. There is a gaggle of people who still download things from the Internet to watch. It used to be just movies, but people are also downloading TV shows as well. Yesterday I saw a list of the most pirated shows of 2015 and Big Bang Theory was #2 (and you can watch it on regular broadcast TV for free!). There’s free open source software called KODI which anyone can download and install to create a home theatre PC. A few years back this only would have been possible on a nearly full blown computer. However, phones and tablets are so powerful now – the processors inside them are comparable to what were previously available only in larger computers just a few years back. That’s why Intel announced it’s PC USB stick this year with Windows 10 pre-loaded for just a little over a hundred bucks.
Since KODI is a free OS you can easily download it and install on a wide range of devices yourself. Just type “How to install KODI” and Google auto-complete will show you some examples of what people are already doing:
While setting up KODI on your own might be easy for a techie, electronics manufacturers are taking advantage of the opportunity to make this easier for the average person. There are dozens and dozens of “KODI boxes” for sale on Amazon for you to choose from. First you may be asking “what does this give me over a Chromecast, Roku, or Firestick?”
How KODI Works
Even though KODI itself is an operating system for PC’s, when you buy a “KODI box” you are purchasing essentially an Android TV streaming media box. This is also probably the best way to explain it to other people when asked. KODI used to be called XMBC (Xbox Media Center). Presumably because it was well liked among gamers, and also because it (I believe) was initially designed as an alternative Linux OS you could install on the original Xbox 1.0 console years back. KODI is free and legal as an OS itself. But much like your phone that has apps, KODI has “add-ons” that can be installed for free. Some are legal, some are sketchy.
People like KODI because it gives you access to content for free that your normally might not even have access to. Outside the normal Neflixy type apps, many cord cutters watch “TV” directly from websites like YouTube, College Humour, Crackle, etc. The advantage of a KODI box is you can install add-ons centered around the communities and content you like best from a single easy to use interface. You can watch content from all over the globe in nearly any language or region, much of it as it happens in live streams. You will literally have the ability to program your KODI box to be whatever you want your cable to be.
If you get a KODI box, you could for example install the “Super Repository” to gain access to easy installation of as many add-ons as possible:
Purchasing a KODI Box
If you start to search for a KODI box to purchase you might be overwhelmed by all of the different options and prices. I would make a few recommendations:
- Get a package that includes a remote: We will show show examples below with remotes, you really need one to take full advantage of the system
- Get enough processing power: If an extra $10-$20 doubles your processing or video power don’t scrimp. You’ll likely be using this device a lot, get something quad core or better
- Video counts too: Looking toward the future you might want to get one that’s 4K UHD right now so you don’t have to buy again when you get a better TV
- Be conscious of storage limits: Either make sure your device has enough internal storage for your future use or note how expandable it is. With a KODI box you can watch TV online, but you can also utilize any media you have of your own (pictures, music, video). So be aware of how much you might need, or at least the limits of the available ports. Some might only allow 32-64GB SD cards, and others might have a USB 3.0 port you can attach a 5TB hard drive to.
- Get the latest version of Android: Don’t buy a KODI box with an older version of Android – you might miss out on the latest features! As of this writing you want at least Android 5.x, but certainly don’t buy a KODI box with any of the Android 4.x flavors (which are severely outdated)
Here’s a KODI box you can get for $75, that has Android Lollipop 5.1, 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. It has all the ports to expand and add via SD and/or USB. The box is only $60 when you consider that the included keyboard cost $15 by itself. It’s capable of video display up to UHD 4K, and has a quad core CPU.
Here’s an Octacore KODI box for just $80, but again – you can get a killer keyboard for just $15.
I’ve given you just a few examples. There are literally hundreds of KODI boxes for sale on Amazon. I’ve also given you most of the criteria to look for (be sure to get gigabit LAN too), but reading the reviews will help a lot as well.
Good luck cutting your cable cord!