In the last article, we got familiar with Kodi in a beginner-friendly manner. Now that you know most things about Kodi, along with how you can use Kodi, I think it would be a good time to advance and learn about various Kodi boxes available in the market that you can pair with your TV. Before we jump to the best Kodi boxes, let’s see what a Kodi box actually is and what to look for before getting one.
What is a Kodi Box?
A Kodi box is a stand-alone streaming device with Kodi installed that always sits next to your TV to cater to all your streaming needs. Most of these Kodi boxes are actually Android TV boxes with Kodi installed. Some of them may have Kodi pre-installed, while on others you may have to perform a manual installation.
While you can always get Kodi running on your existing Windows, macOS, Android, iOS devices, it’s nowhere as convenient as running it on a stand-alone device, so that you can stream anytime you need.
Please keep in mind that there are a large number of cheap Chinese knock-offs available in the market that indeed work, but have a lot of issues. Some of them come “fully loaded” with illegal add-ons and I would request you to stay away from such Kodi boxes. Here, I shall be covering only legitimate Kodi boxes.
Things to Look For in a Kodi Box
Kodi’s minimum hardware requirements are pretty bare minimum like 1 GB of RAM. While you’re in the market for a Kodi box, make sure it has specifications well above these minimum requirements. While Kodi may still run on relatively underpowered hardware, it may not play 4K videos or support advanced Kodi features like PVR.
A lot of people buy cheap Chinese knock-offs, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t work as expected later on. Most of the cheap Kodi boxes are underpowered and have almost zero after-sales support. If you’re in the market to buy a Kodi box, look for the community support and check whether the company provides after-sales service.
This may seem like a no-brainer but try to buy a Kodi Box which gets proper firmware updates. Updates may add support for new streaming services and bring additional bug fixes. So, when you’re out to buy a Kodi box, check the manufacturer’s history of providing firmware upgrades.
That being said, let’s have a look at the 7 best Kodi boxes you can buy:
The Best Kodi Boxes
1. Mi Box
The Mi Box is Xiaomi’s take on Android TV set-top box and comes with a quad-core Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 2GHz, Mali 450 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. On the connectivity side, it comes with WiFI, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, USB port and a 3.5mm jack and comes with a cool Bluetooth voice remote control. The Mi Box ships with Android TV 6.0 and there’s no solid news on whether it will be upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat, as of writing. Android TV is the version of Android that is optimized for TV’s, so you may not see all the apps on the Mi Box’s Play Store as you would on a “regular” Android phone/tablet. However, you can always sideload apps on Android TV.
The process of installing Kodi on the Mi Box is akin to installing any other app from the Google Play Store. It has specifications decent enough to run Kodi trouble-free and even has support for 4K video playback. You can also use a third-party Kodi fork like SPMC (Free, Google Play Store) to search Kodi by voice using the Mi Box’s Bluetooth remote. For the price tag, the Mi Box is one of the best Kodi boxes you can buy right now.
2. WeTek Core
The WeTek Core comes with an Amlogic CPU clocked at 2GHz, Mali 450 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. It comes with WIFi, Bluetooth 4.0, one HDMI and two USB ports. There’s WeTek OS, which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop and also supports OpenELEC. If you’re looking to install other Android apps besides Kodi, the 8GB inbuilt storage is expandable via a microSD/SDHC card.
The WeTek Core comes with 4K video playback support, so you can easily stream those high-quality videos from Kodi on your large-screen television. It supports full-HD video playback on services like Netflix. It also comes with a remote control with Air mouse and microphone.
For support, there’s an official community forum, so you can quickly get help regarding anything related to your WeTek device. Other than the fact that it comes with an older version of Android, the WeTek Core is a solid Kodi box, albeit a bit pricey.
3. Amazon Fire Stick/Amazon Fire TV
Perhaps the most affordable of the lot, the Amazon Fire Stick (2nd-Gen) comes with a quad-core ARM processor clocked at 1.3GHz, Mali 450 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of inbuilt storage. It supports Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi but there’s no support for expandable storage or ethernet.
The Amazon Fire TV (2nd-Gen) is the bigger brother of the Amazon Fire Stick and comes with a quad-core ARM processor clocked at 2GHz, a PowerVR GPU, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of inbuilt storage.
The official Kodi app is not available on the Amazon App Store, but you can run Kodi on both of these devices with a fair bit of setup. We’ve already covered on how to install Kodi on Amazon Fire Stick. While there’s an obvious hardware difference between both these devices like form factor and specifications, let me highlight a disparity between these devices with respect to Kodi: The Fire Sticks supports only Full-HD video playback while the Fire TV supports 4K videos.
If you’re looking to use only Kodi and can do without 4K support, the Fire Stick is a very affordable and capable device. If you’re planning to play some games besides using Kodi, you may want to go for the Amazon Fire TV.
Amazon Fire Stick: Buy ($39.99)
Amazon Fire TV: Buy ($89.99)
4. NVIDIA Shield Android TV
The Nvidia Shield Android TV (2017) comes with NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, 256-core Maxwell GPU, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It supports WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB ports, Gigabit ethernet and comes with the latest version of Android, Android 7.0 Nougat.
Installing Kodi on it is pretty straightforward: just head over to the Play Store and download Kodi. To be honest, I was a bit reluctant to include Nvidia Shield Android TV on this list at first because of a sole reason: although it can run Kodi, it’s competing in a different league altogether (read: gaming). The NVIDIA Shield Android TV is an absolute streaming beast with 4K video playback support. It also includes Plex and Netflix by default.
As any sane person would advise, go for the NVIDIA Shield Android TV only if you’re looking to do some gaming, as buying it for just Kodi alone would definitely be an overkill. If you are willing to pay a premium price, the NVIDIA Shield Android TV easily beats every single device on this list.
5. Minix Neo U1
The Minix Neo U1 comes with a quad-core 64-bit processor, Mali 450 GPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It supports WiFi, Bluetooth, RJ-45 Gigabit ethernet, USB ports, 3.5mm jack and comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.
The Minix Neo U1 comes pre-installed with a custom version of Kodi pre-installed, though you can replace it with the Play Store version if you like. It supports 4K video playback, so the pixel-ravenous people can rejoice. My only gripe with it is that it comes with an older version of Android and the manufacturer should’ve provided an update to the latest Android version. Other that this, the Minix Neo U1 is a very capable Kodi box.
6. Nexus Player
The Nexus Player comes with a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, a PowerVR GPU, 1 GB of RAM and 8GB of onboard storage. It comes with WiFi, Bluetooth and a micro-USB port and comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop.
You can sideload Kodi on the Nexus Player easily. An important thing to note that it supports only Full-HD video playback, so you won’t be able to watch those glorious 4K videos on Kodi.
It has been officially discontinued last year, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of a Kodi box. It originally retailed for about $99 during its launch, but you can still find it at about $60 or less on eBay, BestBuy or Walmart.
7. Raspberry Pi 3
There seems to be no limit to what can be done using the Raspberry Pi 3. The Raspberry Pi 3 comes with a Broadcom CPU clocked at 1.2GHz, VideoCore GPU, 1GB RAM — specifications decent enough to run Kodi. It doesn’t come with out-of-the-box support for Kodi and will require a lot of tinkering around, of course. This method is recommended only for DIY enthusiasts and if you’re looking for a user-friendly way to set up a Kodi box, give this a pass.
Pro Tip: If you swear by a different single-board computer, you can also use Kodi on most Raspberry Pi 3 alternatives like the Odroid-C2.
Which is Your Favourite Kodi Box?
So, this was my list of some of the best Kodi boxes you can find on the market right now. With so many options to choose from, you can easily find the Kodi box best suited to your needs. I’d like to hear which one of them is your favourite and why. Also, if you think there’s another one worthy of a mention, do let me know in the comments section below.