One of the reasons why it’s great to live in today’s age is that most media has gone digital. Instead of trying to find room in the den for our growing DVD collection, all you have to do is clear up a little space on the hard drive or get a memory stick.
However, due to companies using different files types and heavy-handed DRM (anti-piracy software), it can still be difficult accessing all of your content in one convenient place. That digital download of The Big Lebowski you have on your iPad might not work on your Xbox One or Android phone.
So what’s a person to do? Do you just suck it up, buy another copy, and accept the bleak future of digital content distribution? Of course not; what you do is download yourself an open-source media center.
An open-source media center is a free program that acts as a digital media hub; allowing you to play your media, spread out among different devices, from one central location of your choice. There are hundreds of different open-source media centers out there; but hands down the best media center out there is the Kodi Media Center.
Formerly known as XBMC (Xbox Media Center), Kodi was originally designed to work as a media player for the first Xbox. However, as time went on, XBMC became an ongoing open source project and has firmly established its reputation as the grandfather of media centers.
In fact many of its current competitors, like PLEX or MediaPortal, were not only based off of XBMC but also founded by former members of its development team. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
With Kodi, you are never stuck to one device. Kodi gives you the ability to stream any file from any location. Have a movie on your iPhone but you want to play it on your Xbox One? No problem. Want to watch season six of The Simpsons during a long road trip? Got you covered. All you have to do is sync it to the device of your choice!
Besides being able to play almost every audio/video file type imaginable; Kodi is also highly customizable. Kodi lets you change the color, skin, and layout of the user interface; allowing you to tailor your in-home experience to your aesthetic preferences. You can also download hundreds of different add-ons; making your entertainment experience even more custom fit to your preferences. Unfortunately, there is no Netflix or Amazon Prime add-on. Here’s more information about the official Kodi add-ons.
One of the coolest features that Kodi has is its ability to automatically tag and organize your digital media. What Kodi does is it scans your media for meta-data, identifies the file based off of the meta-data, and then downloads cover art and relevant information from websites like IMDB. Not only does this feature save you a lot of time; but it helps make your library look just like Netflix or Hulu. The auto-tagging feature is surprisingly accurate; and as long as you don’t purposefully mislabel a file, you should only experience a hiccup or two every once-in-awhile. Find out more about Kodi’s features.
Installing Kodi is incredibly easy. All you have to do is download Kodi, double click the Kodi icon that should appear on the desktop, and then run the setup wizard. It’s that easy! Now that you have Kodi installed, you can download add-ons to enhance your experience. Since Kodi is open-source you can also download a lot of unsupported third party add-ons.
When it comes to unsupported applications, you should always be careful and do your research on what you download first; so please exercise caution. If you’re committed to going off the beaten path, here is the way to do it:
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out this round-up of the best and most popular apps for your Kodi media center.
All-in-all, Kodi Media Center is the best open-source media center out there today. Other media centers might have a couple extra features for a premium fee; but why pay a premium fee for perhaps an extra feature or two? When it comes to killing the cable bill, sometimes you have to fall back on your own media library; and when it comes to media libraries, no one does it better than Kodi.
Dave Kennedy is a long time cordcutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Sine then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.
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