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Is Samsung’s Evolution Kit missing in action in 2014?

By Leigh D. Stark | 12:16 pm 13/01/2014

Samsung has a great solution for allowing TV owners to easily update their set from year to year, but one year after its introduction, where is the Evolution Kit?  

When Samsung first announced that customers could upgrade not just the software on select Samsung TVs, but also the hardware, many were impressed.

The idea first appeared in 2012 when Samsung announced its “Evolution Kit,” a box you could plug in on the back of select 2012 TV models to add 2013 features, such as new interfaces and faster processors. Some commentators described it as a “getting  new TV every year”.

Fitted with Evolution Kit, the 2012 ES800 Smart TV on the left gains a quad core processor and displays a 2013 Smart TV interface. The ES8000 with dual core processor on the right displays the 2012 Smart TV interface.

Better yet, Samsung said supported TVs would be upgradeable for a number of years, possibly as many as five from when the TV model was released.

Generally, when you by a TV in one year, you know that it — like so many tech items — will lack features and functions that follow on models released in the next year. With a Samsung upgradeable TV, you could at least some new functionality into an older model TV,  and for not too much money at all. Around $300.

We first saw Evolution Kit technology at CES in 2013 where Samsung unveiled the accessory at the keynote. Later in the year, we saw the Evolution Kit installation in action at the Samsung Forum in Jakarta.

And Australians could actually buy the Evolution Kit in 2013, with the small box bringing a quad-core processor and new software to 2012 Series 7 and 8 models TVs. Select 2013 models Smart TVs are also Evolution Kit capable, making them ready to receive Samsung’s 2014 Smart TV upgrades.

But while the company has mentioned Evolution Kit support in its 2014 Ultra HD televisions, there is no mention of a new Evolution Kit accessory in 2014, which leaves something of an upgrade question mark for buyers of 2012 and 2013 Evolution Kit-ready models.

Last year's Evolution Kit installed on a 2012 model Samsung Smart TV.

Of course, Samsung is not obliged to release an Evolution Kit every year, and not all new features can be supported by models from previous years, but without a 2014 Evolution Kit accessory there is some neat 2014 functionality that might just bypass owners of 2012 and 2013 Evolution Kit-ready TV sets.

This includes improvements to the voice control feature, including being able to channel channels, open websites or TV applications by simply speaking the instruction out loud.

The motion control feature has improved, too,  with a “finger gesture” feature that lets users change the channel, raise or lower volume levels, or control other TV functions with just single finger movements. Video is able to be paused using gestures, too.

Without a 2014 accessory module, owners of Evolution Kit-capable 2012 and 2013 Samsung Smart TVs may be locked out of improvements to voice and motion control features.

“Samsung’s 2014 Smart TV models deliver significantly improved voice interaction and motion control features so that our consumers will be able to enjoy our Smart TV more intuitively,” said Kyungshik Lee, Senior Vice President of the Service Strategy Team at Samsung’s Visual Display Business division at CES this year.

“We will continue to develop content that integrates voice and motion recognition for added convenience.”

Given that Samsung’s 2014 TVs offer an enhanced Smart TV experience, and that hardware standards such as HDMI are beginning to trickle through, we are hopeful of  seeing an Evolution Kit for 2014, but so far Samsung’s people have not responded to our enquiries about the matter.

Considering the company’s 2014 Ultra High Definition TVs will support the (2015) Evolution Kit , however, it seems more likely than not that Samsung is keeping the accessory in its inventory.

Perhaps in all the UHD and OLED excitement of last week’s CES, Samsung simply overlooked making a public announcement about the module. Similarly, there has been no official media release yet about the company’s 2014 Smart TV LED and plasma televisions, which if last year’s line-up is to be followed, will number more than 40.

We’ll post an update as news becomes available.

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