There’s more 4K Ultra HD content around than ever before, but what if you don’t want to cough up hundreds of pounds every month for a pricey TV subscription? Our cord-cutting guide shows you how to build a brilliant 4K HTPC system for under £130 with Kodi and Plex, taking advantage of the week’s best Black Friday deals.
Welcome, children of the revolution – and get ready to kiss that expensive Sky subscription goodbye!
I’m going to show you how easy it is to build a Kodi-based HTPC (Home Theatre PC) system, as it’s insanely popular these days, and I’ll also touch on a few ways you can turbocharge your 4K HTPC setup, as Kodi itself doesn’t offer a wealth of 4K content in my experience.
For starters, you’re obviously going to need a 4K-ready TV. For the purposes of this guide, I’ve not factored in the price of an Ultra HD set into the final cost analysis – many of you will already own one, and many of you will be ready to buy one anyways. I’m also not accounting for
Here’s a quick selection of of the best Black Friday TV deals courtesy of our Home Technology Editor, Ced Yuen:
- Buy Now: LG OLED55B7V for £1499 – save £1500!
- Buy Now: Toshiba 55″ 4K TV now just £439, save £160.99
- Buy Now: LG 43-inch 4K TV now just £369, save £280
- Buy Now: LG 55-inch 4K TV now just £699 – lowest price ever
- Buy Now: HiSense 43-inch 4K TV now just £329, save £20
- Buy Now: Philips 55-inch AmbiLight 4K TV now just £569, save £30
Next up, you’re going to need to need a device that supports both the (perfectly legal) Kodi software and outputs 4K content. Fortunately, the all-new 2017 Amazon Fire TV is Ultra HD-ready and eminently affordable at just £70. When you’re ready, follow our separate Kodi on Fire TV install guide to get it up and running.
Fundamentally, that’s all you need to enjoy a superb 4K HTPC streaming experience, but you might find that Kodi alone doesn’t feature all that much UHD content. Your Fire TV Stick also gives you access to 4K films and shows via apps like Prime Video (you’ll need an Amazon Prime subscription) and Netflix, but what if there’s a specific title you want to watch in 4K?
In that case, you’ll probably need to download it, and then go about beaming it to your telly. Don’t worry, though, there won’t be an HDMI cable in sight. Instead, you’re going to use Plex, an awesome media server app that lets you stream locally stored content from one device to another – in this case, from your PC to your TV, via your Fire TV.
On your Fire TV Stick, you can run Plex through Kodi itself (it’s one of the best legal Kodi add-ons) or via the dedicated Plex Fire TV app. Either works, and Plex is also available on Roku devices – the new 4K-ready Roku Streaming Stick+ currently has a cheeky £10 off at Tesco and is another great option. Note that Kodi, however, isn’t easily loaded on Roku streamers.
Want to really soup up your HTPC system? Then it’s worth considering upgrading from a streaming stick to the ultra-powerful Nvidia Shield TV, which also runs Android TV. That means it’s easy to get both Kodi and Plex on it – in fact, there’s not even any side-loading involved as there is with the Fire TV.
It also boasts far superior specs, including HDR support and a beefy Nvidia processor complete with Tegra X1 graphics, so it’s perfect for high-definition games streaming, too.
Whatever device you plump for, you’re going to need somewhere to store all of your content, ready to be beamed over to your TV via Plex. Unless you want to invest in a pricey NAS drive (or have an exceptionally beefy PC), that means grabbing a decent-sized external hard drive.
Fortunately, there’s currently a great offer on a 2TB WD Elements external hard drive over on Amazon. Normally priced at around £85, but it’s currently down to just £68 – a tidy saving of nearly £20. It’s super-slim, too, so it’s not going to cramp your style.
That’s all there is to it! There are a few further ways to enhance your system, like snapping up a bargain NOW TV pass and netting yourself cheap, easy access to premium Sky channels (Roku only, as the NOW TV app isn’t available on Fire TV devices). There are a range of great deals available right now:
- Buy Now: Cinema Pass (2 months) for £9.99 – SAVE £10
- Buy Now: Cinema Pass (12 months) for £55 – SAVE £60
- Buy Now: Entertainment Pass (2 months) for £7.99 – SAVE £8
- Buy Now: Entertainment Pass (12 months) for £45 – SAVE £50
- Buy Now: Kids Pass (2 months) for £2.99 – SAVE £5
- Buy Now: Kids Pass (12 months) for £15 – SAVE £20
- Buy Now: Sports Pass (2 months) for £33.99 – SAVE £34
- Buy Now: Sports Pass (12 months) for £199 – SAVE £200
However, fundamentally you now know how to build yourself a 4K HTPC system for under £140 – and one that works with everything from mainstream services like Netflix and NOW TV to cord-cutter solutions like Plex and Kodi, should you wish to enhance it.
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