The Good The Samsung SEK-1000 Evolution Kit fully upgrades the Smart TV features of a high-end 2012 Samsung TV to 2013's loftier levels. Excellent touch-pad remote; relatively simply DIY installation; doesn't affect TV's shape or appearance.
The Bad Only works with a few high-end 2012 Samsung TVs; somewhat expensive; cable box control scheme still inadequate for heavy DVR users.
The Bottom Line While a cool idea and an innovative way to somewhat ward against Smart TV obsolescence, the 2013 Evolution Kit is definitely a niche product.
A brain transplant for Smart TVs
Smart TV Roku and Apple TV often offer better functionality, there's the upgrade factor. People tend to own their televisions for 5 to 10 years or even more, and in that span of time a smart-TV interface can age worse than a smoker on a diet of Twinkies. After three years my "smart" set at home just seems dumb, with clunkier responses and way fewer options than my $60 Roku -- which is why I use the latter for almost all my streaming needs. Even the most cutting-edge 2013 system will likely seem just as long in the tooth five years from now.. In addition to the fact that cheap little add-on boxes like the
The unique Evolution Kit from Samsung takes direct aim at this issue. Announced in 2012 as a panacea for obsolescence, the 2013 kit grafts onto a proprietary slot on the back of certain high-end Samsung 2012 TVs and turns them into 2013 models -- at least in terms of Smart TV features. It replaces the dual-core processor with a quad-core version and delivers an improved look and feel, better voice control, and a host of other tweaks (although better picture quality isn't one of them). The kit even includes a new remote control.
That seems like a great idea, but the SEK-1000 is still a niche product, appealing only to people who really want their 2012 TVs to be a bit better. Its $200 price tag is steep for a new interface and slightly better functionality, especially considering that the 2012 system is no slouch in terms of responsiveness and has basically the same major apps.
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