Do you wish your standard television could connect to the internet? You would have the ability to stream Netflix, Hulu, or look up anything on Google when your cell phone is out of reach. All of your music and movie files could automatically be linked to your television. Buying a brand new smart TV is a very expensive change. What if you could turn your dumb TV into a smart TV for only about $35-$45?
Keep reading to find out how to use a Raspberry Pi to make any dumb TV a smart TV with some free software called Kodi (formerly XBMC). This post is meant for beginners with lots of details, pictures and non-technical language. This post has many steps, but many are optional add-ons.
Post Overview & Summary
Part 1 – Basic Setup
- Download Kodi
- Gather Hardware
- Install Kodi
Part 2 – Optimize Kodi
- Install an Add-on
- Customize with a new skin
- Use an Android phone instead of keyboard and mouse
- Add movies, music and other files
- Switch from Ethernet to WIFI
This article was originally posted at Tech 4 Noobs
Step 1: Part 1: Download Kodi
What is Kodi? Kodi is a free Linux based operating system that is specifically made for organizing and presenting media in a simple to navigate format. It can be used on computers, but it really shines on a TV. It can easily organize and present music, videos, internet, and pictures. Kodi has a variety of free apps that can be downloaded (more on this below). One of the best parts about Kodi, though, is that the look can be completely customized with new skins.
- Start by downloading Kodi for Raspberry Pi HERE for Windows on your desktop or laptop computer. Mac and Linux directions can be found HERE. I have already included the Windows Zip file.
- Insert an SD card into your computer. This must be a class 10 card (a small number 10 will be printed on the card)
- Download Kodi onto your SD card.
Step 2: Part 1: Gather The Hardware
The list of hardware needed for this project is pretty simple and straight forward. Some items can be found around the house and others can be purchased cheaply.
- Raspberry Pi B or B+
- TV with HDMI Outputs (other video cables can work but HDMI is what we used)
- Micro USB charger (a micro USB phone charger will work)
- HDMI cable
- Mouse and keyboard
- Ethernet cable and internet connection (WIFI will not work for initial setup)
- SD card class 10 (suggest at least 8GB)
- External Hard Drive (optional)
- Beer (optional or mandatory)
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Step 3: Part 1: Install Kodi
Once you have Kodi downloaded onto an SD card and have gathered all the materials listed above, you are ready to boot up and install Kodi to your TV. Keep in mind that the Raspberry Pi must be connected to the internet with an Ethernet cable. The total time for install may be 20-30 minutes, so be patient. We have included lots of pictures of the install process to show there are a bunch of different screens and it takes a while.
Plug all the components in and turn the TV on. You may see a bunch of rainbow colors and then a black screen with lots of code and words on it.
Step 4: Part 1: Install Kodi – Finishing up
After that you will likely see a install progress bar that looks like these pictures. It will take awhile so you may want to go grab a drink.
The screen may switch from a progress bar to a red R multiple times. The red R looks like this picture. This is normal. Be patient and let it continue.
Eventually you will see a screen that looks like this. Remain patient. You are almost there!
Finally after about 20-30 minutes Kodi will boot and ask you what language you would like. Choose the one that is right for you
Congratulations! Kodi is now installed and you have turned your dumb TV into a smart TV. This completes the initial setup of Kodi. Keep reading to find out how to get the most out of your new TV.
Step 5: Part 2: Install an Add-on (Apps)
Now that Kodi is installed, what can be done with it? Out of the ‘box’ Kodi is pretty basic, but the good news is you can completely customize it. One of the first ways to add functionality to Kodi is with Add-ons. Think of these like apps in the Google Play store. There are some really good Add-ons for Kodi including Pandora and Grooveshark for music, Best of Youtube, Hulu and iTunes movie trailers for video, and a bunch of picture add-ons. These are just a few examples. There are many more so go check them out. Below is how to install an Add-on.
In this example we will add the Apple iTunes Trailers to our video Add-ons. Use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate to the videos section. Highlight Add-ons. Press enter to select.
Since you have not yet installed an Add-on the only option will be to “Get More”. Click this by hitting enter.
You will be taken to the Kodi ‘store’ where there are a bunch of different Add-ons to select from. We will pick Apple iTunes Trailers (use the arrow keys to navigate and enter to select).
Once selected a description page will pop up. Click install by hitting enter.
You can now watch Apple iTunes Trailers easily from your TV. To get to this Add-on from the home screen simply go to videos> Add-ons and the Apple iTunes Trailers will be in the list. We are going to watch the trailer for the new Entourage movie.
There are tons of other Add-ons to pick from. Let me know in the comments which ones you like best.
For more detail: Make any Dumb TV a Smart TV