Samsung_LCD_TVTelevisions are constantly evolving — first from cathode ray tube models to plasma, then to LED, OLED, and LED with IPS. The result is a market where consumers are constantly confronted with the “latest” and “greatest” features, all on TVs which are invariably billed as leaps and bounds ahead of whatever model is currently in use. Electronics maker Samsung hopes to minimize the need for TV upgrading with the Samsung TV Evolution Kit, but what’s the real deal with this $300 piece of technology?

Evolution Kit Basics

Samsung’s idea with this is to convert older televisions (certain 2012 TVs only: the E8000, E7000, ES8000, and ES7500) into what are effectively 2013 models. This is done using the Evolution Kit, which is a small black box that attaches to the back of your TV. It comes with a cost of $299 and was released in July 2013; some retailers are starting to sell the product for up to $100 off, so it’s possible to get a bargain if you’re willing to hunt.

The brushed-metal box is stylish looking for something you’ll never see again after installation. It measures 127mm wide x 91mm high x 16mm deep, putting it, size-wise, somewhere between an internal upgrade card and a small tablet. Installing the kit is simple: An easy-to-follow pictogram comes inside the box, but you need to make sure you follow all the instructions, most importantly making sure that your TV is fully unplugged before you begin installation.

To begin, find the Samsung TV Evolution Kit sticker on the back of your television. Remove it, and you’ll find an attachment slot. Push the kit firmly onto its hinges, then pull on its edges to make sure it’s properly seated. Connect your television and Ethernet cable (if you have one), and turn the TV back on. Expect to wait about an hour for software updates.

What You Get

Along with including a touchpad-based remote, the kit offers several features. For one thing, it changes your TV’s old dual-core chipset to a quad-core version, which makes navigating menus and accessing the Internet much, much faster. In addition, you get 2013’s multi-hub menus, Samsung’s Recommendations system (which learns your viewing habits and recommends shows), and a host of improved voice and gesture recognition controls. Even your picture quality gets better, with improved sharpness and better color handling. HD images in motion also look better. Finally, you get a piece of free cloud storage space for your Recommendations if you ever upgrade to a new evolution kit.

What It Can’t Do

What you won’t get from the 2013 lineup are Screen Mirroring and Cinema Black. Screen Mirroring lets you wirelessly display an image from your smartphone or tablet on your TV screen, while Cinema Black automatically dims the letterboxes of 2.35:1 movies, improving your perception of contrast and minimizing screen uniformity problems. Samsung is also staying quiet on what they have in store for next year — there’s no word on whether the Samsung TV Evolution Kit will be a yearly release, or if newer versions of the kit will work with 2012 televisions.

Bottom line: The Evolution Kit offers real performance and image upgrades for your high-end 2012 Samsung TV, as well as a new remote, but it comes with a fairly hefty price tag and uncertain future.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons