Smart TV, Evolved

Samsung is about to make good on a promise to make Smart TVs even smarter.

The Smart Evolution Kit, a concept the company introduced early last year, is a hardware module that plugs into a slot on the back of a TV and upgrades the CPU, GPU, and memory — basically giving the set a full overhaul so it can provide all of the features and services found in the current year’s product line. Own a circa-2012 Smart TV? Slip in a Smart Evo kit and it effectively becomes a 2013 model. Samsung announced it will have working units on display next week at CES, and that kits will start shipping soon thereafter. Models qualifying for the upgrade (price TBA) include the company’s ES9000, ES8000, and ES7500 LCDs, and E8000 and ES7000 plasmas, all of which came out in 2012. 
Samung Korea’s press release was light on specifics, but it did hint at some new features to be found in the company’s 2013 Smart Hub GUI, including a multi-panel interface to access live TV, apps, VOD, and the web. Sets upgraded with the Smart Evo plug-in are said to provide speedier web browsing and app-driven multitasking when watching TV programs, and improvements are also apparently on tap for voice and gesture control — two things we were underwhelmed by when reviewing the company’s otherwise awesome PN60E8000 plasma.
All told, the Smart Evolution Kit sounds like a no-brainer for anyone who purchased one of the Samsung models mentioned above. The company plans to make the kits available on an ongoing basis, so TVs going forward will be able to take advantage of the annual upgrade. We expect to have more details to report on this and other Smart TV developments following Samsung’s press conference at CES 2013 next Monday.