Samsung has just unveiled its latest TV add-on, the 2014 UHD Evolution Kit or SEK-2500U. With this box, users will be able to enjoy UHD-quality videos even on their non-UHD Smart TV sets.
The Evolution Kit is a bit of an oddball in terms of business senses since it lets Samsung TV owners upgrade their current TV's capabilities without actually buying an upgraded TV. Normally, you'd actually want customers to be forced to upgrade their appliances. But perhaps declining sales of television sets had Samsung thinking that some sales plus a few accessories is better than no sales at all. Thus, this kit was born, originally designed to latch on to the back of a Samsung-compatible Smart TV. The kit adds additional processing power for other functionality that would normally cost users a whole new TV purchase.
This 2014 model adds even more of that functionality by throwing UHD or Ultra HD support in to the mix. That means supporting playback of videos with 3840x2160 resolutions. Aside from that, however, the 2014 UHD Evolution Kit also adds some other features, like HEVC codec support, HDCP, HDMI, MHL and others. The box arrives with a faster quad-core processor and a new smart remote control. Unlike older Evolution Kits, however, it seems that this UHD accessory is meant to take up space apart from the TV.
This new UHD feature will be of particular importance to the Korean market, where Samsung is a key player. Early this month, the country launched the first ever commercially available wired UHD broadcasting channel. Called UMAX, the cable channel delivers UHD resolution videos, initially offered for free, but naturally requires a UHD-capable receiver. Considering there aren't yet much UHD TVs out there, this Evolution Kit will definitely help spread UMAX's coverage.
Samsung has not yet announced availability details, but does mention that it will launch first in Korea before the rest of the world, which is not surprising given that they have a greater need for such a device. Pricing is also still unknown, though it is unlikely to dip below the $300 of last year's non-UHD model.