Connected Fridge Freezers
Another solution in search of a problem nobody has
We are beginning to see more and more diverse and niche products in the refrigeration arena and, whilst that may seem great as it offers more choice and flexibility this is one particular area that we strongly urge people to avoid.
The notion that, in effect, sticking a tablet on the front of your fridge freezer, giving it a connection to the outside world and perhaps a fancy aesthetic is now not exactly a new idea.
In fact, it’s a bunch of ideas that have been doing the rounds for some time and have largely been championed by LG and Samsung who, as it so happens, also make tablets, smartphones and so on. For them it probably makes some sense to strap a tablet to a fridge and call it wonderful.
For the rest of us, perhaps not so much.
You see this adds a layer of complexity and components that are really not required. They may even be undesirable.
Just consider how you use a fridge freezer.
You put frozen stuff in the freezer or, stuff you want frozen and you put stuff you want to be chilled in the fridge. Pretty much, that’s it. That’s about as complicated as it gets.
How it all works behind the scenes is, for most people, largely irrelevant.
Now think on how you use your smartphone or tablet.
You pick it up, you can wander around with it, look up recipes or read your Twitter or Facebook pages where you want and when you want.
Why on Earth would anyone want that fixed to the fridge so you have to squint at it, get the proper angle to see it and so on?
In other words, the two use models are almost diametrically opposed to one another, the notion of them being one just seems, well, stupid really.
Internet of Things, Monitoring & Ordering
One of the “features” often touted with these things is that that the fridge can be monitored from afar and that, for some newer models, that it can even tell you what’s in the fridge or freezer and suggest meals.
Okay, that’s fine, so long as you tell it what’s in there.
You need to scan the items in each, in and out, so that the software can keep track of the food and, that doesn’t end well if you have one family member you simply doesn’t care, can’t be bothered or you have kids.
Of course now they are getting still “smarter” and one model we came across even has a camera inside so you can remotely see what’s in the fridge. Exiting stuff, for some people we guess but, for most of us, it’s pretty pointless.
The idea here we think is that the fridge manufacturer can do a deal with your friendly supermarket and automatically order stuff and get an ongoing commission from you buying food from them. You then become a source of ongoing revenue.
It also can report when it needs new filters, a service and so on and either remind you to replace or repair and suchlike.
Or you can have it monitor energy use and adjust automatically dependent on the needs of the unit or, the needs of your energy supplier. Much has been made of this in the press and, for the most part, people aren’t too happy about it.
To do all that it needs to be connected to the internet and becomes a part of the Internet of Things or IoT revolution.
That however, leads to security concerns.
The first of those is your privacy as we’re sure that a good many people wouldn’t be too happy about their shopping habits or even use habits being shared with a supermarket.
After that there’s the widely publicised problems with undesirables managing to access it as, after all, if you can see it online, so can others.
Many people will think that these concerns are not really all that important when you consider the benefits and, that’s fine so long as the buyer understands from the outset what these abilities entail. We suspect most will not.
However the final nail in the coffin if you like is the costs of blessing your fridge with the ability to communicate over the internet.
It isn’t cheap.
A connected appliance is normally very considerably more expensive to buy and, when it does break, expect to pay a lot to have it repaired or, you will need to sign up to an expensive service plan. No matter what way you slice it, this costs and could cost a lot.
A far cheaper option and, in our opinion a safer bet, is to avoid a connected product completely and simply buy a decent tablet or whatever you need. It’s cheaper, easier to replace and easier to keep up to date with.
To date, no argument for connected appliances stacks up so far as we can see.
Our money would go on buying a better machine in the first place or, saving a load of cash.