LAS VEGAS — Innovation in home appliances is always a big theme at CES, and this year’s show was no different. Samsung had one of the most notable products, introducing the Family Hub Refigerator with a giant 21.5 inch LCD touch screen.
LCD screens on refrigerators have always been somewhat of a useless novelty, but Samsung is hoping to change that with a slew of new capabilities including the ability to share and update calendars, share kid’s works of art, leave notes, do online grocery shopping or stream music and audio to the fridge’s big screen.
The challenge with modern stainless steel refrigerators is that you can’t use the magnets of old to post family stuff on the front. Covering almost an entire door panel, the new LCD touchscreen gives you a digital location to do just that.
The LCD interface is beautiful, and we found it easy to navigate when trying it out on the CES show floor. In this case, we were able to bring up a big copy of a recipe that was easily readable from a few feet away.
Probably the most innovative features in the fridge had nothing to do with the LCD screen. This fridge has an array of cameras in the door that snaps a photo of the fridge contents each time the door is closed. On your smartphone, you can pull up that picture when you are at the grocery store to check and see what you do and do not currently have in the refrigerator.
The connected fridge also integrates the ability to do grocery shopping direct from the LCD screen. While simple to use, the initial grocery providers are very limited, only supporting FreshDirect and ShopRite. Samsung promised that they are working to bring more grocery vendors to the interface.
The screen is large enough that you could potentially do away with any TV sets in the kitchen, mirroring your TV, but only if you have one of their Samsung smart TVs. Audio streaming is also possible to the device.
The Family Hub is slated to ship this spring and cost $5,000.
While the screen is beautiful and certainly packed with useful features, I think it is going to suffer from a longevity issue. What is cool and useful in the software today is going to become obsolete over the lifetime of the fridge. My current refrigerator is 10 years old and still going strong, and can’t imagine updating my refrigerator on a more aggressive upgrade cycle to keep up with modern software. Would you put one of these ultra-techie fridge’s in your own kitchen?