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Create Your Own Portable Media Center with Kodi

Transform your laptop into a portable media center at no charge with the free and open source software, Kodi.

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Create Your Own Portable Media Center with Kodi

Have you wanted an easy way to stream music, movies and television programs right on your laptop?  Would you like to then connect your laptop to your television and enjoy them on the big screen?  If so, you don’t have to buy some of the commercial products out there, even though I will say they do a great job.  There are other options that won’t cost you anything to setup.

Today, we are going to take a look at my personal favorite way to setup a media center.  By using this method, I can easily stream and watch almost anything I want.  While there is a little setup involved, it is pretty easy to do no matter what your experience level.

So what software am I talking about that can do all that?  Well Kodi, of course.

What Is Kodi

So what is Kodi?  Basically, Kodi is an open source media center software application that gives you one source to store and play all your music, pictures, movies and television programs.  Formerly known as XBMC, today Kodi has the ability to both play your files and stream programming from different sources online.  This makes it easier than ever to find the show you have been wanting to watch.

On top of that, Kodi easily works across multiple platforms and displays amazingly on a wide range of televisions, providing you can connect your laptop to your television.  If you can’t, you still can have a great media center on your laptop for you to enjoy while you travel or even in the comfort of your own home.

What Can It Do

Kodi is built to be an all in one entertainment solution.  As such, it can playback almost anything you can think of with relative ease.  It sizes effortlessly to the resolution of your monitor or television and utilizes an amazing skin for your navigation that is both easy to use and looks great on the screen.  As far as what Kodi can and can’t play?  Just take a look at the list below:

  • Music – You can easily play your music files stored on your computer or even stream music from different sources, if you prefer.
  • Movies – You can play any movies that you own either through your DVD Player or BluRay player and even movie files. If you want to stream, there are addons you can add that will allow you to do that as well.
  • Television Programs – Like movies, you can stream television shows from your local computer or even files you own, or you can try the addons to expand your library even more.
  • Live TV – Want to catch programs live? That’s no problem, although you may have to find an addon that covers the station you want to watch.
  • Pictures – If you want to view your pictures on a nice large screen, you can easily copy them to your laptop and open them through Kodi. It will even setup slideshows to make the viewing experience even more pleasurable.

As you can see, the sheer amount of things you can do with it is pretty impressive.  Using Kodi, you can find enough programming to last you more than a lifetime, and you should never have to worry about what you are going to watch ever again.

Is It Legal

Kodi in many ways falls into a gray area.  While the software itself is perfectly legal and you can use it to stream free programs and music all day long, it can also be used in other ways that skirt around the copyrights.  If you own the programming, you are free to stream it all day long on your device.  However, you could have problems depending on the rules and laws of your local area and what subscriptions you do have.  So, use it with care, that way you are sure you don’t break any copyright laws out there.

Why Choose Kodi

So you may be wondering why you should choose a media center that requires a lot of setup over one of the commercial products available out there.  There are three main reasons:

  1. Kodi is much more feature rich and powerful.
  2. Kodi lets you customize it the way you want.
  3. Kodi is free.

When you combine all of these reasons with the clean interface that looks great on a television, you really can’t beat this software.  Yes it will require a little more work on your part to setup.  But once that it done you will have a media center that is powerful and ready to play anything you want it to play.  It is worth mentioning that Kodi is also compatible with every operating system out there, it seems.  So if you are running a Windows PC, a Mac or even Linux, you can install and use Kodi as your media center of choice. The system requirements aren’t too high so most budget to mid-range laptops will work just fine.

How to Install Kodi

1.  Visit the Kodi site and click the “Download Kodi” button on the right side of the page.

kodi-select version

2. Select the installer for your operating system. For this guide, we are installing the Windows version of Kodi.

3. Run the installer. Make sure you use all the defaults and install the complete package.

4. Run Kodi.

Windows Firewall

5. Allow the software updates to run.  Grant it Firewall access if prompted.

That’s all the is to it.  I know you probably can’t believe how simple it is to create your own portable media center.


One of the things that make this platform so powerful are the sheer amounts of plugins available from a wide variety of resources.  You can find addons for all types of music and programming and you can even find a plugin so Netflix will work right in the Kodi interface.  That is particularly handy if you enjoy keeping your laptop plugged into your television.  From one interface, you can access all your digital entertainment.

I will tell you that to install addons you will have to work at it.  Each of the addons available have their own installation requirements and directions, making it impossible to put into just one article.  Two great ones happen to be Genesys and Phoenix, but those are only two of the many that are out there ready to be downloaded and installed.

If you do decide to download any addon, I encourage you to read the documentation and reviews about each one before you go through the process.  When you decided you are ready, follow the directions for your version of Kodi carefully.  If you don’t, you could find the addon process to be just a little frustrating.

Does It Cost Money?

I already mentioned that it was free in case you missed that part.  The software is free and will more than likely always be free for you to use.  There are limits in the license that you should be aware of before you use it, but for most people that won’t be a concern.

While most addons do cost money and I have never run into one that does, I’m guessing the possibility does exist for you to find one or two that will cost you something to buy.  You can always avoid those if you do run into them, however, as so many are free you probably won’t miss them at all.

Final Thoughts

I think everyone should try using a media center on their televisions today.  It is a great way to create one center for all your entertainment needs.  While you can spend money on some commercial options, they are far more limited in what they can do compared to Kodi, and they will cost you money.  Kodi is available for free and offers many features that most of the other systems simply can’t touch.  On top of that, you have a ton of addons you can install on your system to customize the experience and give yourself access to so much more entertainment.

If you haven’t used Kodi before, I suggest you give it a try.  You could find you won’t need any other source of entertainment ever again.  But what do you think?  Have you tried using Kodi?  Tell me about your experience with this software in the comments below.  I would love to hear what you think about it.

By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

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