The smart fridge, in many ways, is the quintessential smart home device. For over two decades, companies have talked up the idea of the internet connected fridge as the centre-piece of the Jetsons lifestyle. So it's no wonder the smart fridge was back with a vengeance at CES 2019.
And there‚Äôs good reason for it. The fridge has always enjoyed being a centrepiece of the home, in the kitchen where life is often played out. Handwritten notes have long had pride of place on the fridge, making it a natural place for a screen ‚Äď and in the age of the smart home, the connected fridge lives again.
What does a smart fridge do?
Smart fridges pretty much cover two bases. The first is the presence of a screen, which can be used to display messages to your family. You can also text your smart fridge messages, which will be left for those returning home. Essentially, it‚Äôs a family noticeboard.
Then there‚Äôs the eternal question of what‚Äôs inside your fridge when you're standing in the supermarket. The smarter connected fridges offer nifty ways to check whether you‚Äôre short of essential supplies, track shopping lists and even let you view the inside of your fridge remotely using a camera.
Can I use my smart fridge with Alexa?
More and more fridges work with assistants. LG has been the best at this, integrating its connected fridges with Alexa and Google Assistant. That means having a voice assistant fully built in, so you can add stuff to your shopping lists, play music and use your fridge as a kitchen hub. And it's not just Google and Amazon - Samsung's Bixby is also on the humble fridge, too.
Who are the top smart fridge brands?
Samsung and LG have led the way when it comes to connecting all manner of appliances, let alone fridges, although only a handful make it out of Asia. But Bosch and Siemens offer some options, as well. Read on for our pick of the top smart fridges, which we'll continue to update as more options hit the space.
LG InstaView ThinQ
LG announced its updated InstaView ThinQ fridge, part of its larger ThinQ smart home platform. It's naturally able to other LG devices, like robot vacuums, dishwashers and washing machines.
It's got Alexa built in, with speakers for playing music. The idea here is that you can get recipes read out and add things to a shopping list as you look at your fridge. Plus, listen to some cool tunes while cooking. New for this year is Amazon Dash, which will let you replenish your kitchen supplies with a quick press of the button.
There's a 29-inch screen on the front of the fridge running webOS, and you can do things like upload family photos, make notes or leave doodles for your kids. But the screen has a hidden trick. Two taps on the glass will turn it transparent, so you can see inside the fridge, and check out how many beers you have left. Sure, that‚Äôs been around for a few years on LG smart fridges, but it works really quickly and easily. We've gotten a look at this feature and it's definitely one of our favorites.
There's also a camera inside that'll let you see what's inside when you're away from home. So while you're on the go, you can boot up your companion app and take a look. So there'll be no more wondering if you're running low on milk.
And it also keeps stuff cold. In terms of the fridge specs, there‚Äôs integrated ice dispensing, over 800l of space across fridge and freezer as well as three fixed shelves, one folding shelf and six freezer drawers.
Price: TBC, lg.com | Release date: TBC
Samsung Family Hub 2019
The Samsung Family Hub range of smart fridges has been out for a while and we're now into the fourth generation unveiled at CES. If you're looking for a smart fridge today then check out the Samsung Family Hub 2019, which boasts a huge 21.5-inch screen and can also mirror a Samsung smart TV, so you can entertain while cooking. It starts at $2,300.
The screen, which is the Hub in the fridge's name, features a Family Board as the main screen, which attempts to digitize the concept of the fridge as the family pin board, the place where you stick pictures and notes to the family. Instead of grabbing a sticky note you can just write on the screen as well as upload family photos from your phone directly to the fridge.
There are four additional screens you can populate with a selection of apps, or widgets, such as a shopping list, calendar and weather widget. Entertainment apps like TuneIn, Spotify, Pandora and the screen share for Samsung Smart TV let you stream music of watch shows while you're cooking.
While you can tap to reveal the LG‚Äôs screen, things on the Samsung are less whizzy. It has three cameras inside, viewable from the companion app and the device‚Äôs screen using the View Inside app.
The 2019 has Bixby gain some smarter capabilities. It can do morning briefings and handle kitchen-related tasks and the usual voice assistant features. This is the new Bixby we're talking about too, so it's integrated with services like Uber and Expedia. If you've ever wanted to book a trip from a fridge, now you can do it. Of course, Bixby can also control your smart home.
As a fridge-freezer, it's pretty well specced too. With three double shelves, six freezer drawers, and door storage for both, the Samsung has a decent 550l capacity across fridge and freezer.Read our full review of the Samsung Family Hub fridge here.
From $2,300 | BestBuy
Bosch Serie 6
Far more normal-looking than LG and Samsung‚Äôs behemoths, the Bosch is a fairly standard-presenting fridge-freezer. There‚Äôs no 21-inch HD display or method of leaving doodles for your family ‚Äď but it does come with Bosch‚Äôs Home Connect, which offers a degree of smart functionality.
Home Connect enables you to check the contents of your fridge remotely via two internal cameras and the app. Every time the door closes it will take a picture of the contents, which will be uploaded to the app, which takes the hassle out of streaming.
Aside from checking that you have enough wine, the Bosch smart fridge will also enable you to fine tune the temperature and alert you if the door has been left open. The Serie 6 is a pretty normal looking fridge that will actually fit most kitchens, with a 412l capacity and an A++ efficiency rating.
Bosch and Siemens mix technology between the two German brands, so Home Connect is found here as well ‚Äď but we‚Äôve picked out a much cheaper model that does the bare minimum, in terms of smart stuff.
There are no cameras here (although you will find Siemens fridge-freezers with the tech) and instead the Home Connect app will allow you to adjust temperatures and get alerts if the door has been left open. It‚Äôs pretty minimal stuff ‚Äď but if you‚Äôve ever left the door of your freezer ajar, you'll probably see the benefit.
There's 324 litres across fridge and freezer, A++ energy efficiency and an airfresh filter to get rid of the smell of your stinky cheeses.
From $700, siemens.com