Kodi used to be called XBMC, as it was a media centre for the original Xbox. Now, it's outgrown a single console and is available for just about everything from Windows to the Rasperry Pi. In the old days, enthusiasts would build a dedicated Home Theatre PC (HTPC) to run media centre software, but these days streaming video boxes (and even HDMI dongles) are powerful enough to run Kodi: they're cheap and silent.
Kodi has been in the news recently, and not for good reasons. However, it's important to understand that the Kodi software is completely legal. What's illegal - and what you'll find in the news - is selling a box with Kodi installed and the software pre-configured to allow you to stream copyrighted video - films and TV shows - for free.
Also see: Best Tech Deals
The media streamers we've reviewed here are not those devices: they do not come with Kodi pre-installed (aside from the Minix) and none are configured to allow you to watch films and TV shows through Kodi. Kodi is a free app and it is easy to install on the media streamers below.
The other reason Kodi boxes have hit the headlines is because some devices were found not to be compliant with the 1994 Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations. The safety assessment was commissioned by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which has obvious reasons to crack down on illegal boxes, but it does highlight that you need to be careful when buying such devices from brands which may not be familiar.
All the boxes below are CE marked and most are from well-known brands.
One extra choice is the Asus Nexus Player - a great option if you can find one. Unfortunately this Android TV box is discontinued, so you'll only find it second-hand or refurbished on ebay and similar sites, but don't pay more than around £60-70 for one. They used to cost £79.99 new, and don't support 4K.
Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote
The 2017 Fire TV costs less than its predecessor - £69.99 from Amazon - and supports 4K and HDR. It also has a fast processor and is one of the best-value streaming devices around. You can install Kodi on it, but it's not quite as easy as on some of the Android boxes here. That's because the only app store on the Fire TV is Amazon's own, so you have to download the App2Fire app first, then 'side-load' Kodi.
For most people, jumping through a couple of extra hoops is more than worth it at this price. We've even produced a step-by-step guide on how to install Kodi for the Fire TV.
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
If £69.99 for the Fire TV is a bit rich for you, there's also the £39.99 Fire TV Stick. This HDMI dongle will sit unobtrusively behind your TV although it still needs power from a mains adaptor, or a handy spare USB port on your TV.
Like the Fire TV, installing Kodi isn't as straightforward as browsing to it in the Appstore but it's easier now that Apps2Fire exists, which allows you to beam APK files from an Android phone to your Fire TV Stick.
If you don't have an Android phone, it's possible (but fiddly) to install Kodi using the Fire TV Stick remote.
Read our Fire TV Stick review.
Nvidia Shield TV
Although it's expensive at £189.99, the Nvidia Shield TV is possibly the best base for Kodi as it's so powerful. It will be fast and responsive even if you install graphically demanding skins. Plus, of course, you can use it to play games and stream them - find out more about that in our full Nvidia Shield review.
Since it runs Android TV, it's very easy to install Kodi from the Google Play store. Also, it supports 4K, which is useful you happen to have a 4K TV.
Minix Neo X8
There are several Minix boxes to choose between, but the X8-H Plus is the most powerful, and you can pick it up for around £110 from Amazon. Alternatively, it's around £93 from GearBest if you want to risk getting stung for import duty - which could well take the total to more than the Amazon price.
It's powerful, supporting H.265 decoding: 4K at up to 30fps, and comes with a handy keyboard remote control. Like the WeTek Core, it runs Android.
It comes with a version of Kodi installed, so you don't even need to download it from the Google Play store.
If you're looking for a powerful WeTek-powered Kodi stramer, the WeTek Hub is a good place to start. For starters, it's incredibly small measuring in at 71 x 71 x 20mm, making it easy to hide away and although it comes with an IR remote, we'd recommend using a Remote app.
Although the Android Lollipop-powered operating system can be buggy, the WeTek Hub also boasts the option of booting an alternate OS via the microSD card slot. This means that it's easy to install openELEC, the Linux-based operating system built around Kodi.
Couple that with support for the H.265 codec and you'll get a [email protected] Kodi-powered media streamer ready to play UHD movies, TV shows and any other media files on the big screen.