It’s taken appliance manufacturers some time to catch up, but we’re finally almost maybe arriving at the truly connected home. An oven that will text you when your brownies are done, a refrigerator that knows when you’re out of eggs — and automatically sends an order to the grocer of your choosing.
For now, though, you’ll have to settle for a fridge with a built-in touchscreen and Wi-Fi integration. That would be the Samsung RF28HMELBSR Four-Door Refrigerator, a striking model boasting a spacious 28 cubic feet of storage and a lofty price tag to match.
At $3,599, this smart fridge won’t make its way onto any budget-friendly lists, but a slew of features and quick cooling capability might be enough to tempt homeowners who want the latest and greatest tech in their appliances.
Sleek but functional design
The Samsung RF28HMELBSR is a french-door refrigerator with two drawers taking up the bottom half. Like most newer appliances, it features a stainless steel design that attracts fingerprints like nobody’s business. But then, we have yet to touch stainless steel and not leave a smudge; “fingerproofing” is an innovation the world is still waiting for.
Moving to the inside, Samsung provides plenty of options for customizing storage to your needs. The fridge section includes three adjustable half shelves, with one that slides back and forth in the event you need to store more tall items. Below the fixed bottom shelf are two crisper drawers, each with independent humidity controls. A minor gripe: The drawers are a bit tough to remove, which will probably make cleaning more of a chore than it already is. On the plus side, the compartments in each door are easy to remove for cleaning, and those on the right side are adjustable in the event that you need to accommodate items of various height.
Then you have the middle drawer – what, your current fridge doesn’t have one? A shame, because it’s handy for a couple of reasons. Samsung dubs it the FlexZone Drawer because you can choose from four temperature settings: Wine/Party Dishes (42 degrees), Deli Snacks (37 degrees), Cold Drinks (33 degrees) or Meat/Fish (29 degrees). Thanks to these options and the height of the drawer, this provides an ideal place for kid’s snacks and drinks. Plus, there’s an adjustable divider to keep things from sliding around.
The bottom drawer contains the spacious freezer, which includes a lower compartment divided in two, and a sliding inner drawer above that. There’s also a small shelf that’s perfect for frozen juice or other narrow items.
Feature-packed and fancy-full
Let’s get back to the exterior of the fridge, where we encounter some of the more exciting features. Sure, there’s a levered ice and water dispenser, which are pretty standard stuff. Above that is the real attention-grabber: an 8-inch touchscreen LCD with Wi-Fi and widgets galore–some of which are useful, others only mildly entertaining.
The real attention-grabber is an 8-inch touchscreen LCD with widgets galore, some of which are useful, others only mildly entertaining.
Perhaps the most relevant is the memo app, which lets you write notes to yourself and stick them to the home screen. Not a bad way to keep track of what foodstuffs you run out of at the moment it happens. Similarly, the Weather Bug app is great for at-a-glance weather conditions as you sip your morning coffee, and the Associated Press app isn’t bad for getting a quick dose of news.
You can also add your family’s shared Google Calendar, providing a good central location to access that information rather than printing out paper and taping it to the fridge. Then there’s the Epicurious app, which could come in handy if you want to look up recipes based on what you have on hand. It would be way cooler if the fridge could actually sense what was in it and suggest recipes. We’ll keep dreaming on that one.
Other functions include the ability to make calls through the refrigerator, but only if you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 or later, and the ability to stream TV to the display, but only if you have a Samsung 6000 Smart TV. There’s also an SD card slot for loading photos that you can set as a slideshow, as well as a Pandora app that lets you listen to music through the teeny, tiny, tinny speaker. We’d recommend grabbing a Bluetooth speaker for your kitchen instead.
Another techy feature — though not necessarily a “smart” one — is Twin Cooling Plus, which ensures high levels of refrigerator humidity for fruits and vegetables while keeping the freezer dry to avoid freezer burn. This Samsung fridge also has LED lighting, which is brighter and more efficient than conventional lighting while emitting less heat.
Cooling and other performance considerations
To test the accuracy of the cooling in the three independent sections of the fridge, we used three digital thermometers. We had the fridge set to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature also shown on the built-in LCD. Our thermometer read 38.7 degrees, a negligible difference in our eyes. Despite opening and closing the fridge doors several times in short intervals, the internal temperature stayed consistent within 2 to 3 degrees. We set the FlexZone drawer to Wine/Party Dishes at 42 degrees, and our thermometer read 41.4 — again, pretty much right on.
The Samsung Wi-Fi fridge chilled warm beers to a frosty 44 degrees in an hour and fifteen minutes. (And yes, they were delicious.)
The freezer was less consistent, however. It was set to and displayed the temperature at zero degrees, but the thermometer at one time read -3.2 and another time 9.8. Either our thermometer was having trouble with the low temps, or the freezer struggled to remain consistent after frequent opening and closing.
Next, the real test: beer. To ascertain how quickly the fridge could cool products from room temperature, we grabbed a sixer of Full Sail ale at 67.5 degrees Fahrenheit and placed it on the top shelf in the back of the fridge. To speed the cooling process, we activated the unit’s Power Cool feature, which lowers the compartment temperature quickly after the doors have been opened. The Samsung Wi-Fi fridge chilled the beer to a frosty 44 degrees in an hour and fifteen minutes — an average temperature drop of 0.31 degrees per minute — and it dispensed an 8 ounce pour of water in a zippy 8.2 seconds.
And yes, the beer was delicious.
It’s also worth noting a couple of minor performance issues. For one, the LCD looks very washed out, which isn’t too much of a problem for its purposes, unless you plan to stream TV to it. Also, the responsiveness when trying to draw on memo notes was iffy; again, not a huge deal.
A bit more bothersome was the fact that the Samsung Smart Home app, which can be used to control the fridge settings, would not connect to our test model, despite using a Samsung Galaxy phone, one of the optimized choices. At press time, Samsung had not replied to our inquiries about this issue.
Really, though, being able to control your fridge settings from your phone is hardly a critical feature. We assume the kinks will be worked out as Samsung continues to develop the app.
The Samsung RF28HMELBSR Four-Door Refrigerator is one of a handful of Wi-Fi capable fridges on the market today, and the touchscreen LCD integrates some neat features that we enjoy having in the kitchen. Things like the weather, Google Calendars, and memos are useful to have at-a-glance as you get ready for your day. And the mid-level FlexZone drawer is a great tool for both families with kids and those who like to entertain.
Do you really need a Wi-Fi-connected refrigerator? Probably not. Do you want it, though? Comparable models without the “smart” capabilities cost just a few hundred dollars less. And in the scheme of a $3,000-plus appliance, that’s a small enough upgrade that it just might warrant the considerable wow factor. The connected kitchen isn’t all that far off after all, is it?
- True “smart” fridge with loads of useful tech
- Wi-Fi link for weather, recipe suggestions and more
- Spacious, flexible design
- Cool FlexZone Drawer is perfect for families with kids
- Maintains consistent temperatures throughout the fridge
- A bit pricey
- LCD screen looks washed out
- Connection issues with smartphone app