Kodi (former XBMC) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.
It’s certainly been a few rough-and-tumble months, but we’re pleased to announce the release of Beta 1 for Kodi 14.0 Helix.
This release brings many updates and changes, not the least of which being the name of the software. For those of you curious, we’ve now taken the top 10 or so vote getters in the logo vote and submitted them to doghousemedia to see how they might pull the best qualities out of all of them and combine those qualities into the best possible logo for the organization. As we continue down this path, we’ll do our best to keep you updated.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the features that come with Beta 1.
The Next Generation of Video Codecs
ffmpeg-logoTo begin, Kodi has been updated to use FFmpeg 2.2.4. For users, this means Kodi will now be capable of playing back h.265 (also known as HEVC) and VP9 video codecs. This could result in dramatically smaller video files sizes with exactly the same level of quality. A 40 GB file could be compressed to 20 GB. A 1 GB file could be compressed to 500 MB without any loss in perceivable quality. Users with particularly large libraries or interest in 4K video may be especially likely to appreciate this update. Software support for the VP9 video codec is also included.
The caveat to this update is that it is entirely software based. This means most low power systems, such as those operating Android or iOS, may struggle compared to the heftier HTPCs or Intel NUCs and ZOTAC ZBOXes that are running desktop and laptop processors.
The Kodi Library is getting improvements both coming in and going out. On the input side, library scanning is receiving a massive speed boost, which should make the initial scan on Android and iOS devices quite a bit more spritely.
On the output side, work continues, slowly but surely, on UPnP. Kodi is now significantly more compatible with servers like PlayOn and MediaBrowser, as client-related bugs have been dealt with. Further, communication between Kodi UPnP clients and Kodi UPnP servers continues to improve with proper or additional support for categories like date added, ratings, votes, and artwork, along with sorting for those new categories. UPnP search functions are also slowly working their way into Kodi.
More User Control Over Kodi
Two new features have been introduced with Kodi that should give users even more control over how the software works. First, users can now prevent addons from updating without a forced update, prevent addon update notifications, or simply continue to work with addons autoupdating as they do today. To change addon update settings, visit the Add-ons folder in System Settings, if you are using Confluence, click left with your keyboard or remote to open the side panel, where a number of options exist, including the option to hide any addons that aren’t expected to work in your region.
Second, in the past the virtual keyboard on the screen that users of tablets and remote controls are forced to deal with has always been set to the western standard QWERTY style. It is now possible to change the layout to a variety of other language options. To do so, visit the International section of the Appearance folder in System Settings and select Keyboard layouts. (Protip: If you are an English speaker living in the US, Australia, or New Zealand, you can also select a version of English that better suits your spelling style from the Language portion of the International section.)
Android, iOS, and embedded
retouchedOn the Android side, hardware playback improvements continue, including more and better support for various chipsets, improved fast forward and rewind capability, as well as 4K support for the AMLogic s802 chipset. On the iOS side, Airplay, which was fairly substantially broken by the update to iOS 7, appears to be almost entirely fixed on every platform save Android, which lacks certain software support, making Airplay playback only partially fixed on that platform. Additionally, support for the Freescale i.MX6 SystemOnChip has been added.
Furthermore, for you tablet users, we’ve now replaced the aging Touched skin with the improved Re-Touched skin, which includes a number of tweaks to bring it more inline with the features Kodi has to offer.
Windows, OSX, and Linux
All three platforms continue to see improvements in audio playback and a reduction of many audio-related bugs that have been plaguing the platforms for a long time. Windows also sees improvement in DXVA video playback.
American PVR users will be happy to learn that Kodi 14 introduces support for ATSC sub-channels. All users of PVR may be happy to learn that all PVR windows have been rebuilt to be better and more efficient.
Kodi 14.0 “Helix” Beta 1
As we already mention in last alpha4 release post, the first beta release is nearing pretty fast. At this moment we are only waiting for one more final change to happen and then we are good to go. We are only talking a week or two at most. About three weeks have past since but, yet we haven’t sat still. The list of changes and improvements continues to grow.
Although we also said feature freeze was in affect, we still found some things that were worth including in the upcoming release. These changes had little impact on stability or have been tested quite thoroughly
Localised keyboard support
Although the changes are small the effects for user can be quite big as they can now use a localized keyboard. Thanks to several non team members the list of available keyboard keeps growing. Due to the growing list we now also list them alphabetical using the English language names.
DXVA-HQ scaling for videos (Windows)
Since this feature might cause some issues for certain video cards, it was decided that users who actually want to use this feature, you will have to enable this through the advancedsettings.xml file. Of course this is for the more advanced users to worry about. Though it’s worth mentioning this changes as it could affect some of you.
Faster channel switching for PVR
For those that use the PVR capabilities have experienced that channel switching not always is as fast as you want it to be. This should now be some what improved and will switch channels a bit faster. Although there is likely still some gain to be made for the future.
Raspberry Pi audio resampling
The Pi’s GPU supports high quality re-sampling, format conversion and up/down mixing.
This PR creates a factory for different re-sample implementations, moves the current one into ResampleFFMPEG, and adds a ResamplePi GPU accelerated implementation.
Add MMAL decoder and MMAL renderer for Raspberry Pi
DVDs with menus do not work well with omxplayer (the main R-Pi internal player). For this the R-Pi uses the normal internal player from Kodi which offers better support for software decode for SD codecs like divx3, msmpeg, sorenson spark etc. Also omxplayer doesn’t support alsa, so can’t be used with USB and I2S sound cards. Internal dvdplayer may behave better with dodgy timestamps and packet loss, e.g. with live TV. So for this support was added to dvdplayer using the MMAL api. This offers hardware acceleration, saves the processing cost of YUV->RGB conversion, saves the memory cost of the RGB textures for video frames and allows high quality (cubic) scaling.
iOS 8 runtime fixes
Due to the release of iOS 8 some new problems showed up up the new Apple OS. Some of these issue are listed below and have been fixed
Orientation of our layer is borked when compiled against ios8 sdk and running on ios8 runtime (apple finally fixed the 90° based coordinates)
Because of 1 orientation on external screen is messed up too when compiling against ios8 sdk and running on ios8 runtime
On ios 8 runtime (independent of used SDK) the textfield above the native keyboard is hidden
On ios 8 runtime (independent of used SDK) VTB HW decoder crashes on seek
Several fixes concerning Airplay. It might still be possible that not all function like you want it to. Please know that our main developer for this part tries his best. Hopefully you understand that we are limited in both manpower and capabilities due to Apple constraints.
Update Windows power management functions
Our code still contained some functions that dated back to the Windows XP release. Now that we have dropped support for that OS a while ago it was also time to update the function. It is most likely most of you won’t notice it on normal usage. Due to these changes the support for the newer Windows version has improved a bit. One extra function has been added. When you have pending Windows updates that requires a reboot, it now gives you the possibility to install them if you reboot from within Kodi. Do note it will not force install any updates that you haven’t enabled.
Improvement in file handling system
This is really under the hood code changes that has greatly improved the code handling for several of the file systems we handle. Mainly stability and possible error handling.
Dolby Atmos surround sound
For the users who own the Transformers – Age of Extension Bluray (to name one), would have noticed that TrueHD playback didn’t work. This is caused because the Bluray includes the new Dolby Atmos sound for the TrueHD track. Our devs backported a fix from FFMPEG to at least retrieve the normal audio channels for playback. The actual Dolby Atmos functionality is of yet not supported.
Extending JSON-RPC even more
JSON-RPC is a remote procedure call protocol encoded in JSON. It allows any program to communicate to Kodi by sending certain commands and possibly retrieve data back. This is the main method that remotes like our official iOS remote uses to connect to Kodi. With these additions, these remotes become even more capable of controlling your favourite in house media center.
After reading the last review I tried out XBMC and must admit it has come a very long way since it began. As an HTPC app it is incredible. There are many built in functions and lots of addons you can download within XBMC. You can even download and install skins with the click of a button. Adding different video feeds is a just click of a button away. It really is incredible how far this program has come. It also supports DLNA file sharing although video support is very basic and only offers a few video formats. If you haven't tried XBMC in a while, check it out.
Posted July 15, 2012 by Specter.
Tool version 12.0 alpha 3
using OS Windows 7 64-bit
XBMC has come a long way since the last round of comments in late 2009, and I just couldn't let it sit there with a out of date 'out of 10' rating. It's a mature product with a strong following of users and programmers and has a very active forum, so it deserves a better score.
In my opinion it's the best media centre application of it's type.
Beautiful to look at and very ambitious in scope. Looks very promising. Unfortunately I was hoping that since it had Xbox origins, it would play HD DVD format, but it won't. I still have about 30 HD DVDs that I was hoping to view with this. I have an Xbox external disc drive, but no media player that will play it.
For use in Windows this software has potential but is still buggy(smb support for example is supposed to work but it mostly does not) and is lacking. The volunteer folks who are working very hard on this are spread thin and really do not have time to respond in a reasonable manner to questions or inputs. They tend to respond rather harshly to any kind of critique or questioning. It seems to be a rather aloof group.
Also, this software seems to be geared for folks with a high level of computer savy and programing expertise.
This def worth a Look . Shows its origins on the Xbox but seems to have all the bits you would expect in a media centre. Video audio and photos. I quite like the look and feel and it should support all the common codecs, with easy upgradeability. Still has some rough edges, but its a beta version. Considering the original Xbox is really just a cutdown computer without the Burden of running windows, this should transfer quite easily. Give it a try and let the developers know what you think.
Posted July 01, 2008 by RabidDog.
Tool version Beta
using OS WinXP
Ease of use 6
Value for money 10
Overall score 7
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