There is no shortage of ways to stream video content to your television these days. Apple TV, Roku, USB sticks from Google and Amazon, the list goes on and on. All of these devices negotiate with content providers such as Netflix and DIRECTV STREAM to legally give you the ability to stream your favorite shows and movies.
You can purchase these devices from trusted retailers like Amazon, Target or, even better, your local electronics store. All of these devices have well-documented reviews and are backed by large, well-known corporations. In short, you can trust them. If you are not sure which one to buy, check out our Streaming Media Players page.
What you cannot do, however, is customize them to any large degree. Many cord-cutters enjoy the safety, reliability, and quality these products provide. You plug it in and it works. But there is a more adventurous group out there, blazing their own path to freedom from the box with open-source driven set-top boxes known as Kodi (learn how to setup Kodi here).What is XBMC?
Kodi got its start over fifteen years ago as XBMC, an add-on, open-source software specifically designed for the original Xbox. From those humble beginnings and guided by the XBMC Consortium, it has morphed into Kodi, a robust, open-source, and totally customizable audio and video streaming platform.
Kodi doesn’t hold back, there is nothing it can’t stream and no platform it can’t inhabit. Android, Microsoft, Raspberry Pi, iOS, and others, it can run on anything. Add-ons for it are ubiquitous. YouTube, SoundCloud, Amazon Prime, and just about everything else is available to install within the Kodi ecosystem.
Because it’s open-source you can modify the code to completely customize your device. And with the ability to add skins to Kodi you can get thousands of looks making it truly one of a kind.
Stream Secure and Unconstrained With a VPN
A good VPN provides extra security and unequalled privacy for everything you do online. It’s also an essential tool for getting the most out of your streaming services. Check out our VPN Guide for everything you need to know, including our top pick ExpressVPN.
Is Kodi Illegal?
Wow, you say. Why doesn’t every person use Kodi and stream everything to your heart’s delight? Open-source software is an incredible resource that can give us control that you can’t get from other devices but it also has a dark side.
When I said Kodi can stream anything, I meant everything. With the right add-on, you can download sports even when they’re blacked out. You can watch television shows on channels that don’t normally stream.
You can even watch movies that are still in the theater. If all of this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it most definitely is too good to be true. In fact, it’s downright illegal and the law seems to be catching on.
Comcast has been cracking down on Kodi users keen on breaking the law since last year. Microsoft is working on software to detect and stop illegal streaming from services such as Kodi. Amazon has recently banned the sale of fully loaded Kodi boxes from their website.
Add that to the recent high-profile arrest of five suspects in Europe for selling Kodi devices and too good to be true is quickly turning into two to ten years in prison.
Kodi is not an illegal product. Used correctly you can build and customize a media center that is specifically tailored to your needs and tastes. The open-source nature of it has led to the less scrupulous creating illegal streaming services, and corporations and law enforcement are starting to crackdown. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the coming months but until then happy streaming, just make sure it’s legal.
Ditch “Big Cable” Now — 3 Simple Steps to Cutting the Cord
- Pick the right streaming service
- Supercharge your internet provider
- Protect yourself and power your streaming with the best VPN.
That’s it — you’ll save money, gain control, and enjoy TV more!