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Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 8

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit
  • Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Beautifully constructed
  • The extent of its upgrades is startling
  • Not a bad price considering how deep its changes run

Cons

  • A bit fiddly to fit
  • Doesn't introduce 2013's screen mirroring feature
  • Doesn't introduce 2013's Cinema Black feature

Key Features

  • Adds 2013 chipset to some 2012 Samsung TVs
  • Works with ES7000 and ES8000 TVs
  • Introduces 2013 Smart Engine
  • Improves picture quality
  • High-quality enclosure
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £250.00

What is the Evolution Kit?

Now that most TVs can connect to the Internet, many continue to evolve after you buy them. Usually, though, this evolution only consists of new online services, bug fixes and if you’re lucky, some minor operating system improvements. Samsung’s Evolution Kit, though, takes things to a whole other level, giving you a hardware upgrade that essentially turns your ‘old’ Samsung ES7000 and Samsung ES8000 TVs (the only 2012 sets that support it) into completely new sets for just £250.

At least, that's the theory. Is it worth the bother? Let's find out.

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit - Initial Scepticism

We first heard about Evolution Kits at CES in January 2012. We didn’t pay them as much attention as we probably should have, mainly as we knew it would be well over a year before we actually got to see one of these kits in the flesh.

Samsung did its best back then to convince us about the potential of evolution kits saying they essentially made your TV futureproof. But while this sounded great on paper, we still didn’t really take it in. Thing was, we’d been burned before by similar ideas that never ultimately came fruition, and was also hard fully comprehend how far kit feature might go in enabling keep up with latest technology.

Now, though, the Evolution Kits are actually here. You can buy one right now. So that’s one doubt about them we can cross off the list. All that’s left is to find out exactly how comprehensive their updates are. So it is that we find ourselves looking slightly nervously at one of last year’s Samsung TVs – the Samsung 46ES8000 to be precise – while wielding a little oblong of metal in our hands.

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit - Design

Actually, the oblong of metal isn’t that little. Its dimensions of 127(w) x 91(h) x 16(d)mm go way beyond the sort of hardware upgrade ‘cards’ (like PCMCIAs) we’re used to seeing. Which obviously raises hopes that it’s got a lot more going on under its bonnet than your typical hardware upgrade.

The kit is also remarkably well made. It’s finished in a lovely brushed metal on all the sides that will be exposed when it’s attached, and the Evolution Kit wording is embossed on the bodywork glamorously in a metallic finish. Not bad for a bit of add-on kit you’ll probably never see again once it’s been fixed in to position.

It does makes sense for Samsung to have paid so much attention to the Evolution Kit’s design, though. After all, it still costs £250, and it’s designed to be a physical extension to Samsung’s classy-looking high-end TVs.

At one end of the kit can be found a couple of ‘hinges’ and a slim little slot for inserting a provided LAN adaptor cable, while at the other is a button for releasing the locking latch that holds a fitted kit in place on your TV’s rear.

The kit’s underside, meanwhile, features the main connection to the TV – a connection that’s strikingly large and complicated looking by modern standards, making us think again that maybe the kit really is a pretty high-falutin’ bit of tech.

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit - Connection Issues

Samsung provides a simple, diagram-based one-sheet guide to installing the kit, as well as a more fulsome instructions manual. However, despite these aids we still found installing the kit more tricky than it really ought to be.

For starters, apparently you really must unplug your TV from the mains before attaching or removing the kit. Yet, given how important this is supposed to be, reminders about it should be more blatant than they are – including, perhaps, a bold warning sticker on the kit itself.

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit

Our other issues concern the physical design of the connection and ‘hinge’ fixing mechanism. Our first three attempts at installing the kit resulted in it not fully locking into its slot, causing some strange and at times worrying things to happen to our TV. These included some nasty vertical lines that appeared over pictures and terrifyingly stayed there even after we’d taken the Kit off again!

Fortunately, it was a case of fourth time lucky, and the kit finally locked in properly and (to our eternal relief) the vertical lines disappeared.

To be fair here, while the Evolution Kit we used was new, the TV we were using had had quite a few Evolution kits stuck into it at Samsung’s labs before we got hold of it. But even trying a new kit in a relatively unsullied TV, we still had a couple of false starts before finally figuring out the right technique for the job.

A key problem is that the big connection feels a bit ‘squidgy’ and doesn’t always deliver a satisfying ‘click’ of confirmation when the kit is properly locked into place.

Clearly it’s not ideal that something end users are supposed to install themselves seems to require a learned ‘knack’ before you’re sure to install it right. Nor do we feel everyone will feel comfortable with the amount of pressure you need to apply to the kit to ensure it’s locked in place, given how thin Samsung’s compatible TVs are.

Samsung SEK-1000 TV Evolution Kit - Installation Tips

So to help you avoid our mistakes, the main tips we’d offer are that you make sure you’re always pushing the rear hinges (which you need to insert first) back hard against their slots as you rotate the kit down toward the main slot, and that you make sure you press the whole kit in with the entire palm of your hand and then gently grip the edges and pull it away from the TV to see if it feels loose before finally plugging the TV back in.

Now for the good news: once the kit is locked into your TV, we reckon you’ll be very glad you perservered with it.

Read on to find out why...

Thomas Steck

June 9, 2013, 5:48 pm

How does the SEK-1000 work with Directv and the Internet? Can the controller replace the Directv hand control.

Mike0001

June 13, 2013, 10:58 am

Beware, though, that you immediately lose the Channel 5 catchup service when you plug this in, having waited so long for it to arrive on your ES8000.

Overall, I find the improvements only minor, and not worth the price tag.

kevin mulholland

June 26, 2013, 9:43 am

So, essentially, its a fancy add on STB, for £250!

Rory Fackrell

July 2, 2013, 7:10 pm

can i buy one in say 2014/15? having just spent 2.5k on my ES8000, another 250 on top is a bit soon..... :-/

greggwon

September 10, 2013, 5:54 am

If this is an upgrade for a Samsung TV, I'd hate to experience what the original TV had to offer...

kevin k

September 16, 2013, 3:21 pm

To be honest, I don't need a remote on the tv, I don't need to wave at it telling it commands, whole reason I didn't spend the extra money in the first place. But I want to know if this thing really improves picture quality and more specifically the movement issues on my tv,if it does I will purchase because I feel I got gipped with fast moving images looking terrible. I want to know how much better motion display will be. Have the es7300 I believe

Richard Thomas

October 7, 2013, 4:55 pm

To bad they didn't remember to add a smart card slot ! For cable users ! So this oxymoron examples after you purchased a Smart TV to add brains to it ? LOL

John Doe Smith

March 16, 2016, 7:04 pm

I bought one when they first came out, got one from amazon for $179, they got it from a camera shop in NYC. Installed it turned tv, completely wrecked the tv, lost all my apps. Lost all the movie apps that I was getting FREE from HBO, Encore, Starz and etc...Had to take it out of the 60" ES8000 while hanging on the wall. Real piece of shit from Korea, I mean China....

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