The 10 Best Kodi Boxes
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in August of 2018. Originally part of the Xbox Media Center, Kodi is an open-source streaming application with an incredible entertainment selection. All the devices on our list will do a fine job of running this versatile program, though due to its ever-evolving nature, users may have to install or update the software themselves, while also taking care to only use it in accordance with applicable copyright laws. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 16, 2020:
We want to take a brief moment to explain something about Kodi. Unlike Youtube, Netflix, and the like, it's a decentralized software platform that has nearly endless variations, called "forks,"that can be installed on various high-efficiency computing devices to merge a huge variety of streaming services into one single device. The best, first piece of advice we can give you is to be wary when purchasing devices that make a big deal about Kodi being already installed, as these are sometimes marketed by unscrupulous vendors who are only out to take your money. If a seller advertises a "fully-loaded" Kodi box or "free movies and TV," there's a decent likelihood of the unit being bloated, buggy, or possibly even a straight-up scam. Even if it's not a malicious offering, it may not contain the latest or properly configured software. The next best piece of advice we can offer is to always be cognizant of what you're streaming; if you're streaming big-name movies, TV shows, or events without paying anyone, there's a good chance you're engaging in piracy, and neither we nor the developers of Kodi advocate for breaking the law.
With that out of the way, there are a range of worthwhile options, ranging from the user-friendly to the versatile, although the most capable models tend to require a bit more know-how. None are more requiring of technical understanding than the Raspberry Pi 4, which is great for a lot of projects aside from just streaming video, and the ODroid N2 is similar. The ODroid stands out thanks to its powerful processor and GPU, although it doesn't include all the components you'll need to get started. The Asus Chromebox 3, while powerful, will also require you to install Linux on your own unless you're willing to work with the somewhat limited Kodi fork available for Chrome OS. Luckily, there's a script available that makes it relatively easy for those with a little computer experience.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K remains one of the most popular to come from a big-name manufacturer, and the Nvidia Shield as well, although the Shield has fallen off in terms of sheer processing power when it comes to high-resolution video using advanced codecs. You can, of course, move up to the Shield Pro, but it's notably more expensive than most standalone streaming boxes. If you're especially interested in playing games as well, it's hard to ignore the Microsoft Xbox One S Digital, and if you're familiar with Kodi, you'll know it was actually originally developed specifically for the Xbox.
We did include some popular standalone boxes that have proven both powerful and reliable; the Xiaomi Mi Box S is both popular and versatile, the Beelink GT King relatively recent and packed with powerful hardware, and the Ematic AGT419 an excellent all-around balance of value and effectiveness. If you're looking for something compact and affordable, one of these may be your best bet.
October 17, 2019:
There are quite a few routes you can choose when you're looking for access to the wealth of entertainment offered by Kodi. Third-party Android TV boxes like the Pendoo and Vankyo are particularly versatile and affordable and are also becoming more common, though they don't always offer the most processing power and currently can't take full advantage of the very latest in dynamic contrast protocols such as Dolby Vision. The AcePC and Asus Chromebox utilize the somewhat more familiar Chrome OS and Windows 10 operating systems, which offer a bit more versatility than Android.
On the more refined side are high-end devices such as the Nvidia Shield, which is known as one of the best streaming devices overall. The Xbox One S and X are both similarly high-quality, and though they are more expensive than the average TV box, they provide plenty of gaming options as well as built-in 4K Blu-ray players. Amazon's newest Fire Stick is by far one of the most affordable, and though it lacks certain connectors due to its compact size, it's both reliable and easy to use.
And if you're willing and able to do some DIY programming, both the Raspberry Pi 4 and the new ODroid N2 are among the most advanced single-board microcontrollers. The latter is particularly powerful thanks to one of the newest all-in-one chipsets, though you'll have to supply your own case and internal storage chip. And if you really want to take your streaming game to the next level, consider starting a home multimedia network using an efficient network-attached storage system.
Vero 4K+ An especially good choice for those concerned with Ultra HD image quality and high-resolution audio, this model is both high performing and easy to set up. In fact, it comes with a powerful and refined operating system with Kodi already installed, so it's about as straightforward as anything out there. osmc.tv
Kodi Community Forum Before you settle on the right hardware for your needs, you might want to stop by this comprehensive collection of questions, answers, and insights from an advanced cord-cutting community. The users here are dedicated to providing in-depth and up-to-date information that can help beginners and experts alike in their quest for high-definition streaming. forum.kodi.tv