When I wrote about the battle for the kitchen TV last June, the launch of the Echo Show was one of the signals that told me companies were beginning to pay attention to the space. Half a year later, my own usage of the Show has helped me better understand why.
That’s because ever since Amazon’s video-enabled Alexa assistant entered our home, it’s the first thing my eyes are drawn to as I enter the kitchen. The continuous scroll of news and weather, integration with popular apps like Pandora and Allrecipes, and access to videos all have quietly made the small screen indispensable for my entire family.
And now, with a slew of standalone smart displays and kitchen-centric video screens at CES last week, I’m more convinced than ever as we enter 2018 the kitchen TV market will be a fascinating one to watch.
Here are some of the kitchen screen entrants from this year’s big consumer show:
Echo Show And The Competitors
In some ways, the Echo Show and its small screen competitors are the early favorites. Whether or not to purchase a $200 or below (today the Show is on sale for $179) countertop video-enabled voice assistant is a much easier decision to make than that of a $3 thousand fridge. And now, with Google pouring money into the space, you can expect many more choices and over time.
CES 2018 featured some new smart displays on, um, display, many of them designed to be used with Google Assistant. I suspect at some point Google will likely come out with a first-party device (like the Echo Show), but for now we have displays from the likes of Lenovo, Philips and JBL and the initial reviews are pretty positive.
Hard to believe, but Samsung’s already on version three of its Family Hub fridge, a product that is fast becoming the central focus of the CE giant’s broader smart home strategy. I stopped by the Samsung CES showroom at the Aria to check out the Family Hub 3, and I have to say the new screen looks good.
And as is often the case, LG has followed Samsung’s lead with the ThinQ Instaview Fridge but took things one step further by making their smart screen translucent so you can also see what’s in your fridge. You can see a demo of the LG ThinQ Instaview Fridge here:
While the idea of fridge TVs continue to gain steam, some argue that there’s a mismatch between the life cycle of cutting-edge tech and that of installed appliances. An appliance is an investment, something most consumers expect to last up to a decade. Technology, on the other hand, can be outdated after a few years. This argument resonated after talking to someone at the Samsung booth, who told me the Family Hub gen-1 likely wouldn’t be updated to the third generation software that is coming out with the Family Hub 3, (though the Family Hub Ones in the field were recently updated to Family Hub 2 software).
Despite this, I think the centrality of the fridge in most kitchens and the early relative success of the Family Hub will fuel interest in making the fridge the star of the kitchen TV market.
The GE Kitchen Hub
One of the more interesting concepts in kitchen TV I saw at CES was the GE Kitchen Hub, a screen/smart home controller designed to sit above your oven. The Kitchen Hub, which was originally conceived in GE Appliances innovation hub FirstBuild, not only has voice and gesture control capability built in but works with Zigbee and Z-Wave to connect to your smart devices.
You can see Digital Trends video walkthrough with the Kitchen Hub below:
The concept of the Kitchen Hub sits somewhere between the Amazon and Samsung approach, a device that’s separate from a large appliance (and their long life cycles), but one that is also a built-in. The product is priced in that middle territory as well, coming in at $600.
I like the idea of the Kitchen Hub. A separate built-in screen, one that is more affordably priced than a hybrid appliance/TV product and that can also act as a smart home control center is a potential winner. Of course, a lot will rely on execution, but overall this is an intriguing product to watch.
One thing’s that clear: the battle for the kitchen TV became a lot more interesting at CES 2018. Check back at the Spoon and subscribe to our newsletter to monitor our coverage of this market over the next 12 months.