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.
And there’s good reason for it. The fridge has always enjoyed being a centrepiece of the home, in the kitchen where life is often played out. Analogue notes have long had pride of place on the fridge, making it a natural place for a screen – 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’s a family noticeboard.
Then there’s the eternal question of what’s inside your fridge when you're standing in the supermarket. The smarter connected fridges offer nifty ways to check whether you’re 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?
Some of the latest fridges even work with smart assistants. It’s early days, but LG has been busy 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 has also landed on the humble fridge.
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 too. Read on for our pick of the top smart fridges.
LG InstaView ThinQ
Unveiled at CES, the latest LG smart fridge is part of the company’s new ThinQ smart home platform. While LG has been playing hard in the smart fridge game for a while, ThinQ brings AI to the party, which means it will talk to other LG ThinQ devices – informing the dishwasher that an unholy load of mess of a recipe is on the way, for example.
Aside from ThinQ, LG’s AI platform, the Instaview ThinQ also has Alexa built in. The idea is that Alexa will be able to read out recipes and enable you to add items to your shopping list as you run out of ingredients, as well as being a bit of an entertainment hub as well.
Back to the fridge, there’s a 29-inch screen on the front, running a version of webOS. There’s a bunch of apps, some for making notes, leaving doodles for your family or inputting specifics on the contents of your fridge, which sounds tedious as hell. There are various apps, for hand-written notes and shopping lists – you can type, swipe and jot to your hearts content.
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’s been around for a few years on LG smart fridges, but it works really quickly and easily, and we got a good demonstration at CES. It’s definitely going to be your favourite feature. Inside is a panoramic camera, which you can view from your smartphone, so you can check the beer situation before you get home.
And it also keeps stuff cold. In terms of the fridge specs, there’s 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 3.0
The Samsung Family Hub range of smart fridges has been out for a while and we're now into the third generation unveiled at CES. If you're looking for a smart fridge today then check out the Samsung Family Hub 2.0, 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 $2,800.
The Family Hub series acts like a giant tablet, loaded with apps, to enable it to live up to its name. Whiteboard, StickiBoard and Shopping List all help you leave notes for yourself and your family, while others like Allrecipes and Club des Chefs offer recipes. Then there are entertainment apps, too like TuneIn, Pandora and the screen share for Samsung Smart TV.
While you can tap to reveal the LG’s screen, things on the Samsung are less whizzy. It has three cameras inside, viewable from the companion app and the device’s screen using the View Inside app.
The Family Hub 3.0, which we're highlighting here, takes things to the next level in terms of smartness. It has Bixby – Samsung's smart voice assistant – built in, for entertainment, flash briefings, note taking and the usual voice assistant features. Then there's Samsung SmartThings integration, which basically turns your fridge into a controller for the whole smart home. You can view home cameras, doorbells, turn lights on and off… all from the screen.
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.
TBC, samsung.com | Release date: TBC
Bosch Serie 6
Far more normal-looking than LG and Samsung’s behemoths, the Bosch is a fairly standard-presenting fridge-freezer. There’s no 21-inch HD display or method of leaving doodles for your family – but it does come with Bosch’s 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 – but we’ve 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’s pretty minimal stuff – but if you’ve 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 airfreshFilter to get rid of the smell of your stinky cheeses.