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CES 2016: Samsung Unveils Smartest Fridge Ever

CES 2016: Samsung Unveils Smartest Fridge Ever

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When the phrase "cool product" is uttered concerning CES, it's usually employed as a euphemism for "best" product. But this week, the word "cool" will be used both figuratively and literally to aptly describe Samsung's just-announced new smart Family Hub Refrigerator.

Packed inside and out of this four-French-door family fridge are a collection of technologies designed to keep the family connected and on schedule. You'll see what groceries you may be short on — and even be able to shop for them all from the appliance. Plus the fridge supplies you with recipes and entertains you as well.

Oh, and yes, the Family Hub Refrigerator will also keep your food cool or frozen.

Out front on the top right-hand door is a 21.5-inch vertical touchscreen, with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and Gorilla Glass protection. Essentially a tall tablet, the screen is pre-loaded with a bunch of family- and kitchen-centric apps and functions, including:

  • a family calendar from a start-up called Sticki, which can coordinate disparate family member calendars, including those on Google Calendar and Apple's iCal;
  • memo functionality, with notes scrawled with a finger or an optional stylus;
  • a photo viewer, instead of sticking photos on the door, the fridge can have photos pushed to it, and which can be used as a fridge display screen saver that can snap on when someone gets near it;
  • Instacart, an app/service which can best be described as the GrubHub of grocery shopping.

Samsung also has made its family fridge entertaining. The screen also can be paired with a Samsung TV so you can watch what's on the main TV while you're grabbing a snack in the kitchen. Plus you can stream music from Amazon Music and Pandora to the appliance. The smart fridge actually has speakers built into it, but you can pair external Bluetooth speakers to it as well.

And yes, the fridge is equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Plus, like a tablet, the fridge includes a top-mounted USB jack so you can import photos or videos, and the fridge's 5GB of memory can be expanded to 64GB.

Here's where smart grocery shopping comes into play. Inside the smart fridge are two fish-eye cameras that snap a photo of the contents each time the door closes. You can view the latest photo from inside the refrigerator on the Samsung smart app, to see what groceries you need — even if you're already at the supermarket or you just want to order online.

The smart fridge won't be an island in your smart home, however. Samsung's latest will speak with multiple other devices as well and will be integrated with Samsung's SmartThings platform.

To help you fill your fridge? Groceries by Mastercard is a new app that will let you place orders through ShopRite and Fresh Direct right from the appliance. And you can even pay for your groceries with any debit or credit card.

Samsung's smart fridge is also pretty cool at keeping food cold and frozen. There are 28 cubic feet of space inside the standard-depth model 22 cubit feet inside the counter-depth. The top two compartments are the regular refrigerator zone and the lower left door is the regular freezer. The bottom right door is a FlexZone – you can use it as a third refrigerator compartment or turn it into a freezer with one of four settings: Frozen, Soft Freeze, Chill and Cool.

Overall, food is kept fresher thanks to a steady maintenance of humidity levels and more precise temperature calibration thanks to Samsung's Triple Cooling System, which uses two compressors, three evaporators and a network of sensors.

Samsung says its Family Hub Refrigerator will go on sale in mid-May, and will cost a cool $5,000-$5,999 for standard stainless steel, $100 more for the suddenly chic black stainless steel.

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