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.

The next step is determining which one is right for your own personal needs. 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. Keep reading to discover our top recommendations.

Kodi started life as an Xbox app, and it continues to work on the operating system to this day. Thankfully, the fiddly workarounds to install Kodi on an Xbox are now a thing of the past. Kodi is in the Microsoft Store, so if you have ever installed the app on your computer, you will see it pop up in the recommended section.

But it’s not all perfect. The Xbox One S carries a significantly higher cost than streaming boxes and single-board computers; if you’re not a gamer, the price is hard to justify. There is also no way to play DVDs within Kodi—if you were hoping to use Kodi as a one-stop-shop for all your non-gaming entertainment, you would be disappointed.

Some users have also complained about Kodi add-ons not being as reliable on the Xbox as on other platforms. If that’s important to you, you might want to look elsewhere.

Key Features

  • 1TB of storage
  • HDR support
  • Bluetooth support
Specifications

  • Brand: Microsoft
  • Operating System: Xbox One OS
  • Downloadable Apps: Games, entertainment services, and more
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB
  • Supported Audio Codecs: S/PDIF, Dolby Digital, DTS
Pros

  • Sleek design
  • All-in-one entertainment solution
  • No longer need a workaround to install Kodi
  • IR blaster
Cons

  • Need an adaptor for Kinect
  • No microSD port
  • Less customizable than other Kodi box solutions

Serious Kodi streamers should consider the Beelink GS-King X. Although it has a premium price tag, the money is well-spent. The device is powerful, easy to use, and can double up as a NAS drive. The amount of connectivity options is also impressive. With HDMI, SPDIF audio out, USD, Bluetooth, and even RCA jacks, you’ll be able to integrate it into the rest of your entertainment hardware with ease.

Some users might be discouraged by the device’s usage of Android rather than Android TV. For the most part, you won’t need to worry about it. One negative, however, is the device’s inability to play 1080p Netflix content.
Gamers will also be pleased to learn that the Beelink GS-King X can also handle all retro gaming software and emulation with aplomb, making it a highly versatile device for many different use cases.

Key Features

  • Quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 processor
  • 64GB of storage
  • Bluetooth support
Specifications

  • Brand: Beelink
  • Operating System: Android
  • Downloadable Apps: Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB, RJ45, AV, headphone jack, micro SD
  • Supported Audio Codecs: Dolby DTS
Pros

  • IR and Bluetooth remote
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Hexa-core ARM G52 graphics
  • Expandable storage with desktop hard drives
Cons

  • Expensive
  • Runs Android, not Android TV

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The Kodi community has considered the Nvidia Shield to be the king of Kodi boxes for a long time. It can run both Android apps and the Kodi platform in a stable environment. Because it’s almost plug-and-play, it’s perfect for people who don’t have high levels of tech literacy but still want to enjoy the benefits of Kodi.

Of course, the Nvidia Shield is also the best all-round Android TV box on the market, so if you don’t want to use the device exclusively for Kodi, it is a reliable solution. Specs-wise, it comes with 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth, HDMI 2.0, and support for HDR 10. It weighs 137 grams.

Key Features

  • Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor
  • Built-in Google Assistant
  • Remote control
Specifications

  • Brand: Nvidia
  • Operating System: Android TV
  • Downloadable Apps: Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: microSD
  • Supported Audio Codecs: Dolby Atmos
Pros

  • Support for game controllers
  • AI-based upscaling
  • Sleek, compact design
Cons

  • No USB ports
  • Reduced storage compared to previous editions
  • microSD port is hard to access

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The Raspberry Pi range of products are perhaps the most well-known single-board computers. Priced incredibly competitively, the Raspberry Pi 4 is the newest Pi on the market. The true genius of the product is how flexible it can be.

Not only is the device one of the best Kodi boxes you can buy, but you can also use it to connect two high-definition displays, run your smart home, program automation, and a whole lot more. You can even connect a mouse and keyboard.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is available with 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of RAM. The more RAM you opt for, the better the Pi will perform as a Kodi box. Raspberry Pi devices require some coding and programming knowledge to get up and running on the downside. The payoff is tremendous, but you need to be prepared to put in the time.

Key Features

  • Quad-core Cortex-A72 CPU
  • 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz Wi-Fi
  • USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports
Specifications

  • Brand: Raspberry Pi
  • Operating System: Linux
  • Downloadable Apps: Third-party solutions for most mainstream apps
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB, micro SD
  • Supported Audio Codecs: PWM
Pros

  • Doubles as smart home hub
  • Backwards-compatible software
  • Support for two displays via micro-HDMI
Cons

  • Requires technical skill to set up
  • Additional accessories will be required to complete the unit
  • Struggles with overheating under heavy loads

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Considering the affordable price, the Xiaomi Mi Box S comes packed with features. It supports 4K and HDR playback, HDMI CEC, and allows Bluetooth connectivity.

Performance-wise, it cannot match the premium streaming boxes like the Nvidia Shield. That won’t be a probably when your streaming videos on Kodi, but if you want to play games or manage a sizeable locally-saved collection of content, it might start to struggle.

Under the hood, you will find a quad-core 64-bit Cortex A53 CPU, a Mali-450 GPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and support for all the major video and image file formats.

Key Features

  • 8GB of storage
  • Google Assistant supported
  • Quad-core CPU
Specifications

  • Brand: Xiaomi
  • Operating System: Android TV
  • Downloadable Apps: Kodi, Plex, Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB, headphone jack
  • Supported Audio Codecs: Dolby DTS
Pros

  • Google Assistant supports apps and OS interface
  • Support for Bluetooth
  • 60FPS playback
Cons

  • Only available in black
  • Limited number of ports
  • Doesn’t feel like a premium device

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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 that it can function in many ways. For example, you could set it up as a home automation hub, portable computer, or, in Kodi’s case, as a home theater.

Kodi users love the device thanks to its ability to boot directly into the Kodi app, thus replicating the desktop Kodi experience as closely as possible on your TV screen.

On the downside, you will need to add more accessories over time. The device ships without a case and a cooling fan, so you’ll need those two things at a minimum.

You will also need some technical knowledge. Setting up and using a single-board computer is not as straightforward as plugging in a streaming box.

Key Features

  • 2GB 32-bit DDR3 RAM
  • 4K video playback
  • AmLogic S905 quad-core processor
Specifications

  • Brand: ODROID
  • Operating System: Linux
  • Downloadable Apps: Third-party solutions for most mainstream entertainment apps
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB, micro SD, ethernet
  • Supported Audio Codecs: I2S
Pros

  • Supports Gigabit ethernet
  • Better value for money than Raspberry Pi
  • Impressive speed
Cons

  • Requires technical knowledge
  • May need to buy extra accessories
  • Need to run LibreELEC version of Kodi

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The Pendoo X6 has solid internal specs for the cost. With an Allwinner H6 quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU, a dual antenna for enhanced Wi-Fi signal, and 32GB of storage, it outperforms other devices around the same price point.

The biggest issue with this Kodi box is the lack of access to the Google Play Store. If you only want to run Kodi and nothing else, that will not be an issue—you can just sideload the APK. However, if you plan on installing other apps, it’s quickly going to become tiresome if you have to find an APK file every time.

Visually, we also don’t like the chunky external antenna. However, if your TV is a long way from your router, this box can work and distances that are unmatchable by its competitors.

Key Features

  • Allwinner H6 CPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Bluetooth support
  • Mali-T720 GPU
Specifications

  • Brand: Pendoo
  • Operating System: Android
  • Downloadable Apps: Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Ports: USB, micro SD
Pros

  • 32GB of storage
  • Support for USB 3.0
  • LED clock display
Cons

  • Runs Android, not Android TV
  • External antenna looks ugly
  • Users have reported the remote control to be unreliable
  • No Google Play Store access

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FAQ

Q: Is a Kodi Box Legal?

Yes, there is nothing illegal about the Kodi software or about installing it on a streaming box. The problems arise from the types of content and add-ons you then watch through the app.

Q: Can Kodi Run on Any Android TV Box?

Yes. Kodi is available in the Google Play Store and can thus be installed on any Android or Android TV box.

Q: Can You Install Kodi on a Smart TV?

Yes, but with caveats. Smart TVs are not as powerful as some of the dedicated boxes we have discussed. 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 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.


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