The Gist: Samsung had the most high profile of the smart kitchen product debuts at CES this year with the Family Hub refrigerator, an Internet-connected fridge with a massive 21-inch screen and a hefty six thousand dollar price tag. This week Samsung announced commercial availability of the product.
Our Take: Of all the categories in the connected kitchen, the connected refrigerator is most likely to receive a healthy dose of skepticism. That’s because companies like Samsung, LG and Whirlpool have been trying to fuse the Internet with the fridge since the early 2000s, and the result has been a string of fairly clunky products with little staying power and even less tangible consumer benefits. However, in recent years the arrival of low-cost cameras and internal sensors have intrigued consumers and, as a result, Samsung and others have decided to give the connected fridge another go.
While we felt the LG smart fridge was perhaps the most interesting of this year’s CES crop due to intriguing features like the ability to see what’s inside by knocking on the front of the fridge, the Samsung Family Hub also was interesting for different reasons. For one, the massive Tizen-powered touch screen on the front offers a lot of screen real estate for tailored apps. The inventory manager app also appears interesting, giving consumers some new ways to do fairly easy (but not perfect) inventory tracking using photo-tagging (as demoed here in the initial CNET review).
Bottom line, the challenge for Samsung will be adding enough value to make the fridge’s big price tag seem worth it, while also managing to keep the device relevant and up to date from a technology perspective in a category where consumers expect 10 or 15-year life spans from their fridges.