Samsung has launched its 2015 Evolution Kit (SEK-3500U) in the US and it unexpectedly makes high-end 2014 TVs capable of reading the HDR PQ format, allowing them to reproduce high dynamic range content in some form. It also installs the new Tizen operating system.
New 2015 Evolution Kit
Samsung introduced its Evolution Kit program in 2012. Every year since then, the company has released a new Evolution Kit that can be connected to certain TVs to upgrade hardware, Smart TV features, and sometimes picture quality.
The new 2015 Evolution Kit (SEK-3500U) has an octa-core processor inside and will upgrade the TV operating system to Tizen. Tizen is a new multi-device platform developed by Samsung and Intel. The Evolution Kit also adds VP9 decoding support, which allows owners to stream YouTube in 4K for the first time.
There is another major change for owners of high-end 2014 TVs such as HU9000, HU8700, and HU8550 because SEK-3500 apparently (1, 2) also enables the TVs to process the new PQ format used for HDR content. The 2014 TVs are edge LED based and can obviously not output a high enough brightness level to claim full HDR support but according to owners HDR content plays and is a clear improvement over non-HDR content.
A new Smart Remote is also included with the upgrade.
Samsung says that SEK-3500 works only with 2013 (F9000 & S9) and 2014 (HU6900 & above) UHD TVs. Samsung has promised to keep supporting its 2012 and 2013 HD models, too, but no 2015 Evolution Kit has been made available for these TVs yet.
Samsung SEK-3500 is available now in the US for $400 and looks like a nice upgrade for owners of high-end 2014 TVs. The same Evolution Kit is coming to Europe for 399 Euro but no release date has been announced.