Updated for Fall 2020
Thinking about investing in a fully loaded Kodi Box but want to ensure you get what you paid for? I’ve reviewed the best Kodi Boxes currently available to help you decide.
This post might confuse some of my long-term readers because I’ve always argued against buying a fully loaded Kodi box.
So, why the sudden change of heart?
I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have bought TV boxes that were advertised as a ready-made, out of the box solution for Kodi. They claim to have all the Kodi/XBMC add-ons you’ll ever need pre-installed and to be happy with you new Kodi box.
But the reality is that, if you get the wrong one, they can be more trouble than they’re worth. That’s why it is important to know which Kodi boxes are good and which are best avoided.
We have come up with a list of the five best Kodi boxes available; however, we have a disclaimer: none of them are “fully loaded” in the traditional sense. Rather, they are optimized for Kodi, and it is easy for you to install exactly the content you want.
Best Rated Fully Loaded Kodi Boxes Reviewed
- Best for Alexa Fans – Amazon Fire TV Cube
- Best Computing Power – NVIDIA Shield Android TV 4K HDR Streaming Media Player
- Best For Heavy Streaming Loads – Pendoo Android 9.0 TV Box
- Best For Keyboard Lovers – EVANPO Android TV Box 8.1
#1 NVIDIA Shield TV
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#2 Pendoo Android 9.0
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What Is A Kodi Box?
A Kodi Box is much like any other TV box. It is a device that allows you to stream content directly to your television. But the TV box is just the hardware; you need third-party apps such as Netflix to access content, many of which have associated subscription fees.
The difference with a Kodi Box is that it is optimized to work with Kodi, a sophisticated video player that can play almost any kind of media from anywhere. And we do mean anywhere. It is one of the easiest ways to access content from both legal and illegal sources.
The other thing that sets Kodi boxes apart is that they often come “fully loaded” with apps already installed that allow you to access a variety of media from different sources. In theory, this means that it is easier to set up, and you will be able to find the content you are looking for more quickly.
When “Fully Loaded” Is A “Load Of …”
So, being “fully loaded” means that it comes with a load of third-party add-ons, which can actually be pretty frustrating sometimes.
In fact, dozens of you have emailed me saying that crappy add-ons are one of your biggest challenges when trying to watch a movie or live TV.
But even more frustrating for you seems to be when the Kodi add-ons don’t work as advertised.
I wish I could say I’m surprised.
Most of the add-ons that are included are, to put it bluntly, absolute crap. Almost all of the TV box manufacturers will throw any add-on they can find on their fully loaded Kodi box and use it as a selling point.
This makes it difficult to figure out which box to buy, especially someone new to Kodi devices and streaming boxes.
That’s why I’m writing this article.
Advice On Buying A Fully Loaded Kodi Box
My main reason for starting this site was to help make sure that no one reading this site ever gets ripped off because you don’t have enough information.
There are a lot of scummy sellers out there. Until now, my advice has always been to avoid anyone selling fully loaded Kodi boxes or paid Kodi add-ons after the fact.
The add-ons are free, so you can install what you want just by following a couple of Android box YouTube channels. You can buy really good bare-bones TV boxes like a MINIX, Zidoo, or ProBox2 and add whatever Kodi add-ons or apps you want.
Be together, not the same, right?
That’s the power of Android. Configure it how you like and how it works best for you.
What I’ve heard from you is that you want a box that works – one that is set up right from when you take it out of the box and all of the add-ons are there for you.
No muss. No fuss.
That’s something that manufacturers like MINIX won’t give you. They give you the blank slate, not the finished product.
What Makes Up The best Kodi/ XBMC box?
Anything I put my seal of approval on has to have a good support network. You won’t find any sellers that just sell the TV box and disappear. No eBay or Craigslist, fly-by-night sellers here. You need to have an active forum network with both company representatives and end-users who will gladly help out other users who have issues.
One other big thing: There has to be a warranty.
In short, you need to be taken care of after the sale. That should be a basic requirement, but surprisingly, most companies get this one wrong.
So, if you think a good support network is the most important thing on this list, then you’re right.
Regular Firmware Updates
Good firmware can make or break a device. If you’ve got crappy firmware, I don’t care how good the hardware running the TV box is – it’s just not going to save it.
To be considered, it needs to offer regular firmware updates. It doesn’t have to be monthly or even bi-monthly, but there has to be a history of firmware updates after a device is released.
I’ve written posts before about sellers who rip people off by marking up a $50 TV box to $300. Nothing pisses me off more than a company taking advantage of people like that.
So, one big criterion for me is that the device has to be within a “fair price range,” which is comparable to other devices with similar specs.
This generally means a price limit of around US$160 for a TV box. If something is more expensive than its competition, there better be a really good reason.
This one is admittedly fuzzy. I’ve tested devices from this company before. I’m familiar with how they work and what their quirks are.
So, trust me when I say that I’m confident in the quality of their products.
Are they perfect? No, of course not.
Every device, even the $300 NVIDIA Shield, which is mostly amazing, has its flaws. And sometimes those flaws are pretty annoying.
But, when I mean “quality”, I mean the product is at or above the level of build quality and “daily use” quality of other devices in its price range. If a device costs $100, does it look, feel, and act like at least as a $100 product?
5 Great Choices For The Best Fully Loaded Kodi Box
Our top five “fully loaded” Kodi boxes aren’t “plug and play.” We searched high and low for reliable, fully loaded Kodi boxes and came up empty handed.
Kodi installation takes just a few minutes and there are plenty of repositories to choose from, so you don’t have to rely on entertainment options someone else installed for you.
While our top choices don’t come fully loaded, they’re the best options we could find. They’re user-friendly and reliable, and unlike some of the other boxes we looked into, they’re offered by reputable companies with solid customer service policies.
SkyStream Pro 8K- Best Overall
Our top pick for the best Kodi Box is the SkyStream Pro 8k, a new entry from this great company. They are doing things the right way. I am also a fan of supporting the local companies and it’s great to see them pumping out such high-performing boxes.
Under the hood, it’s got the newer Amlogic S905x2, which is a favorite with Team Kodi programmers because it’s compatible with almost every type of media codec there is. In other words, it’ll play just about anything you can throw at it. You can read my full Skystream Pro 8k here.
This machine also comes with one-click updating apps to keep all of your Kodi add-ons running smoothly. They do the maintenance for you.
The support offered is also top quality, and based in Florida, so no international call centers. Actual telephone support is available during working hours, and there is a Facebook support group that they do a great job of monitoring. There is also a live chat option for those who prefer it.
They offer a 2-year extended warranty, which you can get for $9.99. If the box stops working within the first two years, they send you another one to replace it. Honestly, if you look at what you’re saving compared to other boxes, that $10 for two years of hassle-free support seems like a pretty good deal.
Amazon Fire TV Cube – Best For Alexa
The Amazon Fire TV Cube has to be sideloaded with Kodi, but once you’re up and running, you’ll enjoy all of your favorite content, plus all the benefits that the Fire TV Cube has to offer, starting with everyone’s favorite form of artificial intelligence – none other than Alexa!
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is much, much more than just another Kodi box. In fact, you can use it as a central hub for controlling your TV, A/V receiver, soundbar, and more. You can, of course, run smart home features with the Amazon Fire TV Cube even when the TV isn’t on.
There’s a built-in speaker that allows Alexa to communicate with you; this version has a microphone on/off feature that protects your privacy when you don’t want Alexa listening in. Dolby Atmos 7.1 delivers a premium sound experience for select media and, of course, you can use this all-in-one device to enjoy Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and other favorites.
A very nice remote is included but it’s worth noting that you’ll have to purchase your HDMI cable separately if you decide to make the Amazon Fire TV Cube your Kodi box of choice and you want to watch in 4K.
NVIDIA Shield Android TV 4K HDR Streaming Media Player – Best Computing Power
If you are someone who is frustrated by delays and staring at the loading circle for even a second gets you back up, then this model from NVIDIA will help with your anxiety. Its Tegra X1+ processor means it is one of the most powerful and fastest Android TV streaming players.
But as well as being focussed on speed, this box is focussed on quality. It uses Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR to deliver ultra-vivid picture quality and highly immersive sound. If you have the bandwidth and the media supports it, you can also enhance HD to 4K for an even better viewing experience.
The stylish cylindrical design will appeal to a lot of aesthetics, but it does not leave room for a MicroSD card slot for anyone looking to watch their own media stored in that way. The remote is also funky and supports voice command, though it is better when linked up with an Alexa speaker.
You can also connect to any smart devices in your home with a SmartThings Link dongle, though it is an extra expense on top of the player. Not all the controls are intuitive and can vary from app to app, which is frustrating.
NVIDIA is a top-end product, with a top-end price tag of around $180, that is built to appeal to the serious fans who want as much computing power as possible in their media steamer. But for anyone who is just looking for 4K streaming, there are cheaper options on the market that will give very similar results. But if you want to geek out, treat yourself to a NVIDIA Shield TV.
- Maximum computing power
- Lightning-fast loading
- Top-quality picture and audio
- Stylish design
- More expensive than other options
- No MicroSD card slot
- Inconsistent remote control
Pendoo Android 9.0 TV Box – Best For Heavy Streaming Loads
But the ugly antenna, along with its dual-band wireless adaptor, also ensures maximum speeds, so you can navigate and stream your content at top speeds. No staring at the frustrating loading wheel for even a few seconds. Another thing that looks good on the screen is Pendoo’s custom launcher Alice, which is also simple and intuitive to use.
The remote control on this box lets it down a bit. It looks cheap and is paired down to the basic necessities. It also does not always work intuitively and consistently across all apps, which can be frustrating. That seems to be how they have managed to keep the cost down on this model, by simplifying design and skimping on extra features.
You get a USB 3.0 port, 32 GB of storage, and a MicroSD slot, but that is the limit on features. You won’t be controlling all the smart devices in your home from this box.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to do some heavy streaming and you need a machine that is up to the task, look no further than the Pendoo 9.0.
- Lightning-fast loading
- Nicely designed launcher
- Good data transfer storage with USB 3.0 port, 32 GB storage, and MicroSD slot
- Doesn’t look pretty
- The remote control is not intuitive
- Limited extra features
EVANPO Android TV Box 8.1 – Best For Keyboard Lovers
Not only is the EVANPO Android TV box very pretty, it works hard and delivers lots of functionality that will appeal to the casual user and geek alike, and it is also highly affordable at less than $70.
You have a lot of space to install all your favorite apps on this device with 32 GB of ROM, and then stream at excellent speeds with both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1, so you can always connect your media. The box has HDMI 2.1, which supports H.265 4K video decoding technology, so you won’t be missing any of the details while watching your favorite programs.
It is specifically designed to be compatible with Android apps, so they can always be used without lagging or freezing. The Amlogic quad-core cortex also means optimal speeds.
This player also supports mouse and keyboard integration via USB, so you can control it however you like, and it gives you more options if you plan to stream games through this device. It also comes with its own wireless mini keyboard alongside the remote.
The biggest challenge with this player is that there are so many options for controlling it, that it is not always intuitive. Also, perhaps because of the focus on keyboard control, the remote control that comes with it is pretty basic. Better tools are available, but they need to be purchased separately.
But if you want to be able to control your streaming box with the same precision as your computer, the EVANPo Android TV box is worth looking at.
- Slick design
- Lots of storage
- Fast connection
- Controls are not intuitive
- The remote control is basic
- Works better with Android content than other alternatives
FAQs About Kodi Boxes
What’s The Best Dodgy Box?
“Dodgy box” can be another name for a Kodi box, referring to the fact that some Kodi boxes come “fully loaded” with applications that allow you to access illegal content. It is much harder to get a “dodgy box” these days than before, as selling boxes primed with pirated content is illegal, as is watching that content.
What Is The Best Android Box 2020?
TV boxes using the Android operating system are considered among the best, as Android is an open source operating system that allows for flexibility and customization, unlike, for example, Apple.
Our favorite Android TV box for running Kodi is the SkyStream Pro 8K, but all of the boxes on our list are based around the Android operating system and are great TV boxes
Are Android TV Boxes Illegal?
Android TV boxes are completely legal. TV boxes are just machines that allow you to stream content from the internet directly to your TV. As a general rule, they don’t come with any content already included. Instead, you need to source the content yourself via free apps such as YouTube and paid-for applications such as Netflix.
Applications do exist for Android TV boxes that allow you to access illegal and pirated content. Accessing and watching this is illegal and is subject to local fines and punishments.
Which Is Better: Firestick Or Android Box?
Whether you should get a Firestick or an alternative Android Box really depends on how much you like Amazon. Fans of Amazon who are invested in their other products such as Alexa should go for the Firestick.
Android TV boxes are streaming boxes that work off the Android operating system. Amazon Fire TV boxes are also based on the Android operating system, but with additional refinements built on top to work seamlessly with other Amazon products, such as Amazon Prime and the Alexa Smart Speaker.
If you are heavily invested in Amazon as far as your home technology is concerned, a Firestick tends to be your best choice, as it can integrate with your Alexa speaker to respond to voice commands and you can also browse Amazon on your television.
But if you are looking for a more agnostic system that you can customize yourself, an alternative Android TV box is a better choice.
Should I Buy A Smart TV Or Firestick?
A Smart TV and a Firestick, or other TV box, pretty much achieve the same thing. They allow you to stream content directly from the internet to your television screen. With a Smart TV, you get something that is more integrated and you can control from one remote.
With a TV box, you have more options: if you want flexibility, you can get an Android Box; if you have an Alexa, you can get a Firestick that works with her voice commands; if you are an Apple-ophile, you can get Apple TV.
If you need to upgrade your TV, a Smart TV can be a great investment. If you already have a great TV that can deliver 4K, but isn’t “smart,” a TV box is an affordable way to make your existing set “smart.”
How Do I Choose An Android TV Box?
When choosing the right TV box for you, start by knowing what you want to use it for. There is pretty much no limit to the features you can get with a TV box, but you do need to pay for them. Ensure that you only pay for what you need.
If you have a standard TV and just want the TV box for streaming Netflix and your favorite cable channels, you can probably go with a very basic and affordable model, such as the basic Amazon Firestick.
But if you have a 4K TV with surround sound and want a cinematic experience while you are streaming, you will need something that has the power to stream 4K and deliver Dolby audible. In this case, you will be looking for a high-end device such as the SkyStream Pro 8K or the Nvidia Shield.
When differentiating between boxes, the primary things to look at are processor power, Wi-Fi speeds, their picture quality, and what version of Android they have. Many of the other features, such as voice control and design, are more about individual taste than the quality of streaming.
If you are determined to get a Kodi Box, make sure you get one that delivers on what it promises, and offers value at the price.
While the idea of “fully loaded” Kodi Boxes was popular a few years ago, today, users are more interested in boxes that can run Kodi seamlessly, but which they can populate themselves, rather than arriving with a lot of stuff that they don’t want.
So, a good Kodi Box is pretty much the same as any good streaming box. It needs to have the specs to deliver the content that you want. That’s it!
So, why do I think they’re the best “fully loaded” Kodi boxes?
You get a ton of value for not a lot of money.
What do you think? Do you have a fully loaded Kodi box that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
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