Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator review

Spacious and intuitive, Samsung's Family Hub makes the case for the smart fridge

The Samsung Family Hub fridge has a large computer touchscreen on the door, bringing a cool factor that extends beyond the food inside.
The Samsung Family Hub fridge has a large computer touchscreen on the door, bringing a cool factor that extends beyond the food inside.
The Samsung Family Hub fridge has a large computer touchscreen on the door, bringing a cool factor that extends beyond the food inside.

Highs

  • Flex drawer
  • Lift-up handles make it a breeze to open doors and drawers
  • Fingerprint resistant
  • Spacious
  • Large screen puts smart home control at your fingertips

Lows

  • Ice machine takes up half the space on French door
  • App integration needs some work
  • Screen not completely intuitive

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the Samsung Connected Touch Screen Family Hub ($3,600) wants to be its brains. This refrigerator is well on its way to accomplishing just that by giving you the ability to view footage from your home security cameras, create a shopping list, and document everything in your fridge daily via the large computer screen on the panel of the right door. That’s just a few of the neat tricks this 28-cubic ft fridge can perform, but how well does it do as a fridge? We plopped the appliance into our test kitchen to find out more. Here’s how it went.

One Big Family-Friendly Fridge

The Samsung RF28NHEDBSG/AA Connected Family Hub fridge is a behemoth. Measuring 70 inches high by 35.74 wide and  34 inches deep, it features French doors, a middle Flex Drawer, and a pull out freezer on the bottom. You’ll have no problem getting all your stuff in this fridge. Inside, the shelves on the door are spacious and can fit condiments and other bottles at least two deep.

The handles on the drawers and doors have a little lift to them, making getting what’s inside a breeze and adding a bit of a glide feeling to the whole process. Inside, you’ll also find two temperature control drawers for deli and produce. The freezer features two drawers: one on top and a bottom drawer with a movable divider. You’ll also find a thinner drawer that slides in and out that’s ideal for storing ice packs.

We particularly liked the Flex drawer, not only for its wide size, which makes it possible to fit just about anything in there (think deli platters for a party, a sheet cake, or several bottles of wine), but you can also adjust the temperature of this drawer to accommodate meats, beverages, deli, or wine. Just use the Fridge Manager app on the touchscreen to select your setting.

The ice machine is hit or miss, but we love the taste of the filtered water it dispenses.

The Fridge Manager app is also essentially the brains of your fridge and how you control the Samsung’s settings. Use it to set the temperature in the fridge or freezer and to see the outside temp (of your kitchen). The app informs you if the ice is full and if the water filter is still good (if not, just click a button in the app to order a new one) and the outdoor temp as well.

The app is also the home of the unit’s Power Freeze and Power Cool functions, which speeds up the freezing and cooling process respectively for when your fridge is stuffed. Incidentally, that app will also tell you all the ways the refrigerator is working hard to keep your stuff cool, such as the Twin Cooling Plus section, which keeps humidity in check to help perishable items like veggies and fruits last longer and food stored in the freezer taste less like it was stored in the freezer.

Ice, Ice Baby

The only thing we don’t like about the refrigerator’s design is how much room the ice maker takes up on the inside left door. The mechanism occupies about half of it. To the company’s credit, they did the best they could with the shelves on the left side, creating slimmer ones for thin items.

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Unfortunately, the ice machine is a little hit or miss in performance. In our tests, we were able to fill a pint glass halfway with full cubes in 11.63 seconds, but couldn’t get it to give us more more than that. We did get some crushed ice in the mix. Speaking of crushed ice, we could fill a pint glass to the half way point in about 30 seconds. However, not all the ice was crushed.

On the outside of the left door, in addition to the ice maker is a water dispenser. We love the taste of the filtered water it dispenses—cool, crisp, and refreshing. In our tests, we filled a pint glass in 11.86 seconds.

Touch Screen Mission Control

The outside of the right door is the crown jewel of this device — a large 21.5-inch touchscreen that’s pre-loaded with apps like Pandora and Ring security (you can add more of your favorite apps). Maneuvering around the screen is like navigating a giant Samsung Galaxy phone. The screens are customizable (press an icon and drag to another part of the screen), and you can add more, giving each person in the home their own screen to personalize. The main controls for the fridge are on the second screen, just swipe left to access.

Clicking the View Inside option literally gives you a look inside the fridge. No need to open it and stand in front of it for countless minutes hoping that what you want will pop out at you.

The View Inside app takes time-stamped pictures of what’s in your fridge every day, and you can scroll through past days (up to three weeks or so) to see what was inside when. The feature is part creepy and part food detective.

You can create a shopping list directly on the screen as well as add foods to the fridge’s app so you can monitor when they’ll go bad. You can add items using the touchscreen keyboard or by pressing the microphone icon and speaking to the fridge via Samsung’s voice assistant — Bixby. It is a bit complicated, though: to do the latter you need to be standing very close to get the voice activation to work, and you have to tap the screen after saying each item. That means that you can’t just muddle off a list of ingredients from a recipe book.

Additionally, Bixby has issues with words like ketchup (the voice assistant kept writing it as “catch up”) and lettuce (“let us”). Steak came out on the screen as “stake.” We got the same inconsistent results whether the room was empty and quiet or when there were people talking in the background.

The Shopping List app will track frequent items, so all you have to do is tap a box to select repeat items. The app will also categorize them based on bread, fruits and vegetables, etc. You can even select an option to find deals on different items, but in our tests, none ever came up for us.

Here are a few of the stores the app supports: Cash & Carry, QFC, Sephora, Macys, Costco, Whole Foods, Albertsons, Big Kmart, and more. To remove the item from your list, simply click the item again to remove it from the list. While that feature is good in theory, we couldn’t quite figure out how to send the shopping list to our phone.

We’re happy to report that despite its large size, the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator held temperatures well.

While there isn’t a TV built-in, there is internet access, so you can do things like stream cooking videos.  Unfortunately, the sound from the fridge isn’t fantastic; it’s actually a bit tinny. If you use Ring security devices at home, you can login to the Ring app and view the outdoor video camera or video doorbell feed or motion alerts right on the fridge’s screen. While the app does take a bit to connect, it does work, and you can use it to easily see who is ringing the doorbell without ever leaving your kitchen. Essentially, there’s a lot you can do with the connected 21.5-inch touchscreen, but none of it is totally smooth sailing. Still, with a little patience, you can probably get the features you really care about to work well for you.

Keeping It’s Cool

We tested the fridge at half-full fridge to see how well it kept items cool and fresh. We’re happy to report that despite its large size, it held temperatures well. The Flex Drawer, set to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, kept its cool throughout the busy lunch time in our test kitchen, although it was only opened twice in a three-hour period. The crisper drawers, also set to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, were actually registering 36 degrees when we placed our temperature sensors in right before lunch time.

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The temperature popped up to 39 degrees after being opened several times over a three-hour period, but we were impressed with how quickly they cooled to 37 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer, set to 29 degrees Fahrenheit, jumped to 30 degrees after several openings during the test period, but again quickly cooled back to the base temperature in about 15 minutes.

While those are solid numbers, we wanted to see how the fridge would do returning to its chill state after leaving the door open for 15 minutes. The fridge temperature increased to 41 degrees during that time, and took 20 minutes to chill out to the base temperature. That’s not bad considering how large the fridge is.

Warranty information

The Samsung RF28NHEDBSG/AA Family Hub 28 cu. ft. 4-Door French Door Refrigerator comes with a limited warranty that includes coverage for parts and labor for one year. There’s also a five year parts and labor warranty on Sealed Refrigeration System Only (Compressor, Evaporator, Condenser, Drier, and Connecting Tubing), and a ten-year part and five years labor on the Digital Inverter Compressor Only.

Our Take

Samsung’s line of Family Hub refrigerators are innovative, and as such they pack a lot of features in them. Unfortunately, the execution (especially in the case of the touchscreen) isn’t always flawless. You’ll need to have a bit of patience to get it set up the way you want. It’s also a very expensive appliance — $3,600 — that is both a fridge and a computer, meaning that it will cost more to fix if there are problems. That said, as a refrigerator the Samsung won’t disappoint; it’s spacious, keeps your food cool and fresh, and it doesn’t attract fingerprints.

Is there a better alternative?

While not quite as high-tech as this Samsung model, the LG InstaView fridge is also spacious, well designed, and still lets you peek inside to see what’s in the fridge. Though neither model is cheap. You can see our favorite picks for fridges in a bevy of categories by reading The Best Refrigerators of 2018.

How long will it last?

It’s hard to know exactly. According to the experts, refrigerators should last about 14 years, but by that time the tech in the door will likely be well past its shelf-life. Also, because it’s a fridge with a computer embedded, we’re talking about two longevity of two different devices here. Still, Samsung is a well-known and trusted brand, and the company will likely continue to support its fridges and the technology embedded.

Should you buy it?

It depends. The fridge is large, and the touch screen is fun. If you’ve got extra money and love the idea of a computer on a fridge, then this is for you. But the touch screen could use some tweaking to make it a stellar product, and if you’re on a budget, you should obviously look elsewhere.

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