How to Choose the Best Kodi Box for Your Needs
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Are you looking for a way to stream your locally-saved media directly to your TV? Does the idea of an open-source set-top box with customizable third-party add-ons interest you? If you answered Yes to either of these questions it sounds like you’re in the market for a Kodi box.

We’ve already established that Kodi boxes are legal What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? With Kodi boxes becoming increasingly popular, we set out to explain what Kodi boxes are and offer you a definitive answer on their legality. Read More . If you’re interested in buying one, the next step is determining which one is right for your own personal needs — because everyone is different.

When it comes to Kodi boxes, there are a lot of options on the market. Different boxes suit different usage situations. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make sense of the vast array of choices. But don’t worry, as MakeUseOf is here to help you make sense of it all.

To make this article easier to digest, we have split it into several different categories. Therefore, we suggest skimming through the article and finding the headline that best describes you before delving deeper into the recommendations.

If You’re New to Kodi…

Are you new to the world of Kodi boxes and keen to see what all the fuss is about?

At this point, you probably neither need or want all of the bells and whistles some of the more extravagant boxes come equipped with. If HD audio isn’t a concern and you haven’t got an AV receiver as part of your home theater setup, you have two main options to choose from.

Xiaomi Mi Box

The Xiaomi Mi Box does a great job of handling Android TV apps. It ships with Marshmallow (meaning it can handle 4K Netflix videos You Can Now Stream 4K Netflix on Windows 10 You Can Now Stream 4K Netflix on Windows 10 Netflix is finally offering 4K streaming on Windows 10. Unfortunately the list of requirements is so long that probably only a handful of people qualify. Read More ) and an AMLogic S905X System-on-Chip (SoC), a necessary component if you’re planning to watch 4K YouTube videos.

It also comes with a Bluetooth voice-powered remote control (so you can use Google Voice to search your Kodi library), and it excels at benchmarking tests.

mi box xiaomi

WeTek Hub

While the Android features are nice, as a pure Kodi player, WeTek does a great job. It offers Kodi’s dynamic refresh switching and HD deinterlacing.

The WeTek device also comes out on top when assessing connectivity. It features 5 GHz band Wi-Fi support, GigaE video transfer, a serial cable port, and an IR extender cable.

wetek hub

If You Want Pure Kodi…

If you’re a seasoned desktop Kodi user, you might want to replicate the experience as closely as possible on your television.

By choosing one of the following two devices, it’s feasible to have a set-top box that boots directly into the Kodi platform. It’ll feel exactly like using a cable or satellite box so you won’t have any menus or app screens to wade through.

ODROID C2

Experts consider the ODROID-C2 to be the most powerful low-cost single board computer on the market. It has a quad-core AmLogic processor and Mali GPU so it can function in many ways. For example, you could set it up as a home automation hub Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? For a while, people thought of the idea as nothing more than a gimmick, but recent product releases have shown that smart home automation is starting to live up to its promises. Read More , portable computer, or, in Kodi’s case, as a home theater.

If you take this route, you need to install LibreELEC Kodi on the ODROID’s eMMC flash storage.

odroid c2

Vero 4K

The Vero can handle 4K playback, has HD audio, can connect to your other peripherals via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and is one of the only ARM devices to provide 64-bit architecture What Is 64-bit Computing? What Is 64-bit Computing? The packaging of a computer or computer hardware is crowded with technical terms and badges. One of the more prominent ones is 64-bit. Read More . It also has 2 GB of RAM.

If you buy a Vero, you need to run OSMC Kodi.

vero 4k

If You Want Versatility…

If you want a box that’s easy to set up and can do almost everything to a high standard, you need an Nvidia Shield.

Nvidia Shield

The Kodi community has considered the Nvidia Shield to be the king of Kodi boxes for a long time now. It can run both Android apps and the Kodi platform in a stable environment.

Because it’s almost plug-and-play (you just need to install the SPMC fork from the Google Play Store), it’s perfect for people who don’t have high levels of tech literacy but still want to enjoy the benefits of Kodi.

It also supports 4K videos on Netflix and Amazon Prime and offers video deinterlacing streaming from a PVR server.

nvidia shield

If Money Is No Object…

Have you been a dedicated cord cutter for a number of years? If you’re supremely confident with using Kodi and know exactly how to get the most out of the app, you might want to spend more money on something with more power.

If that’s the case you can’t go wrong with an Intel NUC.

Intel I Series NUCs

As the name suggests, Intel I Series NUCs are not a single product, but a whole range of products. The cost of units varies dramatically, as does each device’s capabilities.

If you want to experience Kodi in all its glory, aim to buy a sixth-generation device with the Apollo Lake SoC processor or a seventh-gen Kaby Lake processor.

intel i series nuc

The top-end seventh-gen model, the NUC7I7BNH, comes with an i7 processor, an Iris Plus 650 GPU, 32 GB of RAM, HDMI 2.0, and USB-C. Unfortunately, it will set you back over $400.

If that’s too much money, check out the NUC6I3SYH. It’s only sixth-gen, but at $250 it’s almost half the price of its big brother. It’s got 8 GB of RAM, four USB 3.0 ports, and an HD Graphics 500 GPU.

If You Want Kodi on Your Smart TV…

If you own a smart TV running the Android TV operating system, you’re in luck, because Kodi is available from the Google Play Store (unlike on iOS store, which requires a workaround How to Install Kodi for iOS Without Jailbreaking Your iPad or iPhone How to Install Kodi for iOS Without Jailbreaking Your iPad or iPhone Kodi is one of the best ways to access live TV, and you don't need to jailbreak your device to enjoy free streaming content on your iPhone or iPad. Read More ). This means you can have it up and running in seconds.

There are some caveats, however. Smart TVs are not as powerful as some of the dedicated boxes we have discussed elsewhere in this article, which means they fall short. Here’s where smart TVs come up short from a Kodi standpoint:

  • Decoding — Most smart TVs have ARM cores. They’re weak and seriously limit what you can decode within the Kodi app. As such, you’ll be relying on formats Kodi can decode using the Android MediaCodec (AMC). The most common AMC formats are MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP, H.264/AVC, and H.265/HEVC.
  • Audio — TVs normally only have HDMI inputs and no outputs, therefore you will have to use HDMI-ARC audio formats. There will be no HD, Dolby Atmos, or DTS:X audio output.
  • 4K Resolution — You can get Kodi to play 4K resolution videos 8 Eye-Popping Ultra HD Videos To Watch On Your New 4K TV [Stuff to Watch] 8 Eye-Popping Ultra HD Videos To Watch On Your New 4K TV [Stuff to Watch] We've trawled high and low and found some eye-popping 4K videos that take full advantage of the ridiculous number of pixels at your disposal, for free. Read More on your smart TV, but you’ll need to enable the MediaCodec Surface Video Acceleration Mode within the Kodi app. It’ll force the TV to render the video output rather than the Kodi software. This setting should also allow for HDR playback.

Bottom Line — Will Kodi work on your Android-based smart TV? Yes. Will the user experience be as good as using a dedicated box? No.

Which Kodi Box Are You Buying?

There you have it: six boxes from six different manufacturers which excel in different areas. Of course, there are lots of other boxes you can choose from, so don’t feel limited by our recommendations.

We’d love to hear your opinions about the ones we’ve covered, but also about the devices we haven’t mentioned. For example, are you a big fan of the MINIX U9 or the HiMedia Q5? Are you using a Chromebox or Chromebit Chromebook vs. Chromebox vs. Chromebit: Which Is Right For You? Chromebook vs. Chromebox vs. Chromebit: Which Is Right For You? If you thought Chromebooks were under-appreciated, what about Chromeboxes and Chromebits? If you're looking for a new Chrome OS device, which should you buy? What are the strengths of the three devices? Read More to run Kodi? If so, how are you finding the experience?

As always, you can leave all of your feedback in the comments section below. And if you have any questions about Kodi or Kodi boxes feel free to pop them in a comment, and we’ll try our best to answer any queries.

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  1. Abraham Bolland
    May 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Well if you're using kodi still, you're a newb, that's okay. Search on iptv, thats the real thing, stable, no lagging or need 10 steps to get a channel going. Personally i love tvsmart dot ca cuz first iptv with no monthly fees.

    • missy dutiel
      May 10, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      tvsmart.com? Googled it but couldn't find it anything..

      • Abraham Bolland
        May 10, 2017 at 6:44 pm

        . Ca, not com buddy

  2. billdehaan
    May 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I started playing with Kodi when my 2009 era Asus O!Play died.

    For my setup, I need SPD/IF optical audio for 5.1, my stereo doesn't handle HDMI audio.

    A friend gave me a PivOS Kodi box, but it was an older model, and it didn't support X.265 video.

    After playing with a cheap $50 Android Kodi box that never really got the audio right, I eventually went with the Arnu box (www.arnubox.com). It's not cheap (it was about $150), but it had several advantages.

    First of all, it's Linux based, rather than Android based. Also, instead of Kodi being a generic Android application, it's hooked into the kernel. In other words, it boots into Kodi at power up in about ten seconds.

    With Linux comes a number of benefits - remote administration, a SAMBA server, etc.

    Secondly, they've got CloudWords, which is just their name for an installer than handles groups of add-ons. There are CloudWords for many country specific addons, for example. It's all above board; like the Kodi repository itself, it's all curated stuff, so if you're looking for pirate streams, you won't find them.

    But for me, the fact that they get the SPD/IF 5.1 audio right - which the mainstream Kodi branch still struggles with, you have to use one of the forks if you really want it - was the deal maker.

    Expensive, but recommended.