Need a screen in the kitchen? Samsung puts a tablet in even more fridges

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When Samsung unveiled its $5,000 Family Hub Smart Fridge at CES 2016, it certainly raised eyebrows. Pricey and flashy, it made some wonder why anyone would want a 21.5-inch touchscreen on the front, cameras inside, and connectivity throughout. At CES 2017, Samsung is doubling — or really, quadrupling — down, offering the Hub as three new types of fridges.

In addition to the existing four-door flex model, later this year, customers will be able to buy two versions of its four-door fridge with a FlexZone drawer — one with recessed handles and the other with a polygon handle — that come with all the features of the Family Hub. The FlexZone drawer lets you assign the compartment one of four settings, like one for chilly beverages and another for unspoiled meat. The third new model is a more traditional French-door model, with two doors on top and a freezer drawer at the bottom. Both the polygon and recessed-handle models will also go on sale sans screen, if you want to save some money.

The new fridges will ship with the latest version of the Hub 2.0 software, which will roll out to existing Family Hubs later in the year. Some of the updates include more apps: Samsung expects Spotify, YouTube, and iHeartRadio to all be supported. There will be a new feature, Glympse, which is sort of like Mrs. Weasley’s clock from Harry Potter: It shows where your family members are, as long as they’re in the United States.

Since the smart fridge is meant for the whole family to use, profiles are another new addition. Calendars can be more customized to individual users (up to six), with each person getting their own avatar. That means you won’t mix up George’s and Fred’s violin lessons.

The fridges will also come with voice recognition, though not from Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant. Instead, it will open any app that comes with the fridge using S-Voice, the assistant found on Samsung phones like the Galaxy S.

“Our aspiration was to create not a food device but a kitchen device,” said Samsung’s Yoon Lee, senior vice president and head of content and services, during a call with reporters. “It has to evolve with your life.”

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