Open ELEC (short for Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is a Linux distribution designed for home theater PCs and based on the Kodi (formerly XBMC) media player.
Open ELEC applies the "just enough operating system" principle.
Since 2011, the Open ELEC team usually releases a new major version, following the Kodi release schedule.
The Open ELEC team released Open ELEC 4.0 on , and this version features updated XBMC 13.0 with further updated important parts of the operating system as well as the Linux kernel updated to version 3.14 and additional device drivers.
If you think your investment in the Pi and open ELEC is worth the difference in price toward a fully featured smart TV or a home media center, then you should definitely spend more time tweaking and taming this little box. Open ELEC has done a good job of making setup and configuration painless, which is certainly critical.
As far as XBMC goes, it surely shows a lot of potential, and I'm rather pleased with open ELEC. But its primary competition these days is the array of cheap, streaming-only set-top boxes from Roku, Amazon, and the like, all of which deliver on ease-of-use and on ease-of-finding content.
For an open-source project like Kodi to compete with the commercial products, it will probably have to simplify the process of finding and setting up add-ons.
Open ELEC 5 brings Kodi closer than ever to being a plug-and-play product, but it is not quite foolproof yet.