You've almost certainly heard of Kodi – and you've probably not heard good things about it. The software has been in the headlines because of the controversy over 'fully-loaded Kodi boxes' which make it easy to illegally stream copyright-protected films, TV and other material from the internet via third-party plugins.
However, the software itself is perfectly legal, and there are lots of ways to use it at home to manage and enjoy your media collection. If you have a massive archive of music, movies and photos, Kodi is the tool for you.
Kodi is designed to be hooked up to a TV or a large monitor, but there's nothing to stop you from running it on a laptop or just about any other device (it's available for many, many platforms).
Kodi can be used like a DVR if your PC has a TV card, but the software really comes into its own when you jump into the world of add-ons. There's a massive collection of extensions that extend its capabilities by adding support for extra services such as streaming sites, games, lyrics, subtitles, and just about anything else you could possibly want.
By default, Kodi runs in full-screen mode – an indication that it's designed to be used on a dedicated box – but if you dig into settings you'll discover a windowed mode too. Unfortunately, finding this option means navigating through Kodi's imperfectly laid-out menu system – an unwieldy and labyrinthine experience.
Once you're used to how things work (and it's much better if you’re using a remote rather than a keyboard and mouse), you're in business and ready to start streaming media to devices all around your home.
The sheer number of add-ons can be overwhelming, and it may take you a while to find the best ones to enhance your experience, but when you do you will probably end up wondering how you ever lived without Kodi. It's well worth investigating the many plugins that give the software's interface a new look, making it easier to navigate, and the extensions for integrating popular media services like Spotify.
To get even more from the software, check out our guide to the best streaming boxes for Kodi.