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Do We Really Need A WiFi Refrigerator?

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I saw an ad for this on TV last night:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/12/sa...

All for only $3,500!!! Do we really need something like this? And wouldn't you also need some sort of data plan to access the info?

I think I'll stick to my old fashioned one.

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  1. It would be nice to get rid of my old ethernet-cabled fridge.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      "It would be nice to get rid of my old ethernet-cabled fridge."

      Mine is still token ring. They don't make 'em like they used to.

      1. re: ferret

        HA! my 2400 modem connected fridge is doing just fine too, still searching for that perfect string tho

      2. well, we don't "need" ice-makers, built-in filtered water dispensers, or separate temperature-controlled drawers for holding hors d'oeuvre trays and wine either...but "advancements" in refrigerators & freezers (and all kitchen appliances for that matter) stopped being about necessity a long time ago :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Actually I have none of those. I purposely bo8ught a fridge with no ice maker...one less thing to maintain or break.

          1. re: al b. darned

            Im releived to learn that I am not the only person who still embraces the KISS principle.

            1. re: al b. darned

              I also skipped the ice maker. And the other add-ons ghg mentions. I also think there's a difference between those and the wifi. Those are for the storage of food; the wifi is not.

          2. Sign of the times.......

            Just bought a new frige w/o WiFi. Looked long and hard for exactly what I wanted at the right price. In doing my search, I won't go so far to say that sales staff were pushing the WiFi, but they weren't shy about touting how wonderful it's features are!

            1. We do, but not for the reasons the unwashed masses seem to want (Sending tweets from the fridge? Gimme a break!) But I would love a networkable fridge that could give me temp/humidity data, remote management, and way to track inventory/shopping lists more effectively...

              Since it's Wifi (as opposed to 3G/4G which use the cell phone networks) it would not have a monthly fee...at least not for the actual network connection.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jzerocsk

                >>>
                But I would love a networkable fridge that could give me temp/humidity data, remote management...
                <<<
                Is this a problem for you ? I have never had an issue with the fridge controls doing their job. Just "set it and forget it." How, exactly, would you need to "remotely manage" your fridge.

                The most anal I get here is external temp readouts of the fridge and freezer boxes on the front of the fridge.

                1. re: al b. darned

                  That's the thing...I don't know if it's a problem, but having access to that data could be tremendously useful in maximizing efficiency/economy and doing maintenance. For all I know my fridge is a week away from crapping out and I have no way of knowing. If I notice that the compressor is cycling way more frequently than it did 2 weeks ago, I can do something about that before it fails outright. If the relative humidity in the fridge is suddenly dropping maybe that's a sign the door gasket needs to be checked out. It could send me an e-mail if the compressor dies when I'm on vacation so I can have someone empty it out rather than coming home to a house full of rotting food. If it was in a vacation home and you forgot to unplug it before you closed up for the off-season you could log in and shut it down.

                  It's not so much that any of this is a problem for me, it's just that if they're going to hang excessive tech on an appliance, I want something useful I can do with it! Why would I want to tweet or surf the web or stream music or even look up a recipe from the refrigerator? I can do all that on my phone, my laptop, my tablet, all devices that I can put on the counter right where I'm working. There are so many cool possibilities, but the market seems to drive junk...which would be fine if it were not to the exclusion of the really neat things. If you're going to give me a "networkable fridge" give me a networkable fridge, not a fridge with an iPad glued to the door.

                  But I am in the minority in feeling this way, most tech consumers just want flash and social networking and no actual utility.

                  1. re: jzerocsk

                    Integration is going to be the key. Once RFID is universal, a fridge could provide accurate instant inventories. Combined with data from the pantry, you could plan your dinner at work knowing exactly what's available and what needs to be picked up on the way home. Plastic containers could use programmable RFID chips and a device (like a label maker) that could be used to "label" them (or a PC attachment). Now all we need is a robot that will cook it all up for you. Or at least, do the mise/prep work so you could dive right in.

              2. People don't generally "need" much at all. Like the computer I'm typing on for example.

                Presumably the wifi connectivity allows the device to connect to ones network. There's no need for a data plan with wifi.

                1. Make sure your home wifi is secured (password protected). You wouldn't want someone hacking into your fridge!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: cajundave

                    oh yes! it could be quite traumatic if someone hacked the live feed of the interior contents of your fridge and posted it on a food porn site for all the world to see. i feel violated just thinking about it...

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Good lord...my foot long cucumbers, my extra creamy yogurt, those perky little radishes...the shame of it all!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Next thing you know your fridge will have it's own facebook page and a chowhound account!

                        1. re: cajundave

                          ...and it will tweet every time you sneak an extra piece of cheesecake! oh the horror!

                          1. re: mlou72

                            Hi, mlou72:

                            That's funny! If I got one, my wife would rig it with a klaxon horn so the whole county would know about the cheesecake.

                            On a semi-serious note, it is possible these things, fitted with scanners and RFID'd out, WILL tattle on us to marketeers, etc. And not necessarily just about our food choices. How paranoid is paranoid can only be decided as a matter of history.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              It'll be okay, just keep a video handy of your dog pulling the door open and gobbling up all the beer and bacon.

                    2. Of course, the worst that usually happens with a fridge is that the power goes out or the compressor fails -- if it was able to tweet an SOS malfunction while I was, say, on vacation or extended business trip, worth knowing I could get family or friends over to prevent or reduce an ugly stinking mess.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MikeB3542

                        My fridge has been occcasionally threatening suicide for 10 years. I'd have killed it myself long ago if it tweeted me every time!

                      2. I can imagine fifty years from now people will look back on this thread and be thinking the same thing as when we look at our grandparents and they said, "A color tv? Why the hell would I want one of those?!?! They are like $200"!

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: LorenM

                          You know you are young when you embrace any new technical goods come along, and you know you are getting old when you start to criticize the latest toys and start to look back -- trying to collect for old vintage cookware.

                          This is because young people tend to believe the best is yet to come and older people believe in the good-old days.

                          I bet you that many 20-30's old couples would love to get a WiFi refrigerator if they can afford one, while not many 60-70's give a crap about it.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Now, now, Chem...

                            I was about to post the gist of what I'm about to say even *before* I saw the "collect for old vintage cookware" comment. Who were you thinking of, exactly, old friend?

                            What I was about to post was that the meal-planning aspect of the Wi-Fi reefer sounds wonderful to me. I don't want Google or Darth Cheney knowing what's in my fridge, but it sure would be nice to be able to push a button and have a suggested recipe that could allow me to skip a trip to Whole Paycheck or for takeout. Or warn me that the duck confit has been in there 90 days already...

                            Have you ever listened to "The Splendid Table" on NPR? I love the segments where callers give the guest chef some short, dismal, disjointed list of things that are in their reefers at the moment. The chefs almost always come up with something that at least *sounds* edible. If the WiFi reefer comes with quality aps that do this seamlessly and effortlessly, if/when my 1940s Frigidaire gives out, I'll definitely consider one.

                            I have one minor quibble with your old/young generalization, too: I think young people are more likely than older folks to swallow the marketing hype behind "modern" things being characterized as better. They'll learn, after they've been burned enough, or use enough "antiques" that work. Time makes curmudgeons of us all, mercifully.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Kaleo,

                              Old friend. I wasn't thinking of you when I said collecting vintage cookware. Many people who collect vintage cookware believe that cookware/tools are better made in the old time, whereas people who buy high technology cookware believe that the best cookware are to be made in the future. I bet when your cookware purchase pattern is different when you were in your 20's than now. That said, I don't recall you being that old. You are not even in your 50's if I remember right.

                              "I think young people are more likely than older folks to swallow the marketing hype behind "modern" things being characterized as better. They'll learn, after they've been burned enough, or use enough "antiques" that work. Time makes curmudgeons of us all, mercifully."

                              I think it is a balancing act. Younger buyers are more hopefully and likely to chase for the latest technology in cookware or in iPhone. Older buyers have seen enough hype and realize that many of the new advancement is very minor or simply nonexistence. This is also probably why older population do not upgrade their cell phone nearly as quickly as the younger population -- despite the older population actually has more money to spend.

                              Now, of course, it is a generalization.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I agree to a point. I think younger folks will jump on new things right away but once the technology is proven the older folks jump in as well (case in point- my 87 year old grandmother and her computer). I think older people are perhaps more cautious about the latest fad until it isn't a fad any more. However, I think most of us in a certain generation thought the Jetson's were pretty damn cool at the time- bacon and eggs? Push a button and Presto! I love to cook but I would definitely use that probably more than I care to admit.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Pioneers always get the arrows in the back, young or old. I've made a lifetime of enabling technology for corporations, so I love it - but I distrust people around it, especially marketing types.

                                  A smart fridge is going to be useless (other than the operational warnings) without a significant level of integration. To get the inventory part of this technology working, you'll need either RFID chips to replace bar codes or your very own data entry clerk sitting by the fridge and entering everything that goes in and out. For all the bad to be said about Wal-Mart, they were gung-ho on RFID for a while, but they seem to have given up. It may be years before we see all items tagged with RFID chips. There's also the issue of partially used containers, but that could probably be worked out with self-weighing shelves and some software. RFID will eventually enable people to walk out of grocery (or any other) stores with a cart full of stuff and have the entire cart automatically rung up, complete with itemized receipts (if you want one). No wonder Wal-Mart wanted this so much - they could fire half their staff!

                                  It is exciting to imagine the kitchen of the future. But how much automation will people like us accept? We mistrust garlic presses. The thought of something truly delicious and dare-I-say-it, authentic, coming out of a machine is something we probably all hope for. It hasn't happened yet - but today's microwave frozen dishes are a step above the frozen dinners of yesteryear. My standard is the chicken that Leelu pulls out of the microwave looking thing after putting in what looks like a boullion cube and waiting 5 seconds, in Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. If it gets that good, I'm going to quit cooking. Or at least buy me a garlic press.

                                  1. re: applehome

                                    Personally I won't buy a WiFi fridge until it comes with a replicator. I'll send the dinner plan through my tricorder and it'll be ready and waiting when I beam in off the transporter.

                                    1. re: applehome

                                      Applehome,

                                      Haven't run into you for a long while. Nice to hear from you. Exciting story. To be honest, I don't distrust the WiFi refrigerator as being useless as much as it being distractive. I am sure we will always find use for these functions, but it begs the question of usefulness in the big picture. Anyway, it is a personal choice issue. If the buyer thinks he/she has much to gain with a WiFi refrigerator, then good for him/her. For me, I probably wouldn't able to get much out of one.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Function... see, that's just the problem. Unless you want read-only Twitter, Pandora music from a pinhole speaker behind your water spout, have use for a calendar of events that has to be updated from your computer or phone, and don't have post-its, it's not really functional. It's just shiny.

                                        No, I'm not disparaging anyone's choice, in fact I'll likely end up getting this exact fridge in the next few months. And then people will look at me funny when they see my fridge five years from now, when their fridges have 20" screens and full internet access and subwoofers hidden discreetly in the door hinges. They'll probably tweet @me, making fun of my old technology, and I'll stand in front of my fridge crying because my Twitter app is read-only and I can't respond. And five years after that I'll be laughing at them from within my Transformers fridge that is now my everything.

                                      2. re: applehome

                                        "But how much automation will people like us accept?"

                                        After watching the Carousel Of Progress at DisneyWorld many times I have determined that as long as we don't talk about numbers in the presence of our voice-activated ovens pretty much anything is possible.

                              2. need? you need air, water, food, and occasional protection from the elements. everything else is bells and whistled. so no you do not need one. but it would be nice to call up recipes from the fridge, maintain a shopping list and list of whats in there, etc. why not?

                                1. In all fairness, you can pick it up for under $2500 on sale at Sears. Which is still $500 more than the same fridge without Hal. I'm looking at fridges and was so excited when I saw this because it's the closest thing I've found yet to suit my household needs -- and even more excited when I found they sell the same size 4 door without Hal! But now I sort of want Hal. But I imagine this fridge is much more like Marvin, *sigh*.

                                  There must be some brain abnormality in these appliance designers that keeps them from seeing that -nobody- would want technology that will be obsolete in 2 years on something they will live with for a minimum of 10 years, hopefully closer to 20 years. I'm not even going to think why they imagine anyone would want to face their fridge pushing buttons and trying to read tiny print, or run back and forth trying to read a recipe, let alone listen to music coming from the water dispenser. Oh yeah, didn't anyone notice? The "speaker" (haha) is left and rear of the water dispenser. And you can't tweet from it, you can only read everyone else's tweetspazzes.

                                  Simply maddening that these designers get so close to designing a great fridge, yet their drive to be on the cutting edge of technology always puts their creations in the laughable annals of appliance history (and fast!). Hey appliance dudes! Make a fridge that holds its temp, is easy to wipe clean (inside and out), has space for everything, doesn't hoard food in dark recesses, doesn't have an affinity for repairmen, and is ergonomic so those of us who aren't 20 year old gymnasts can actually use that nifty freezer drawer without breaking our backs. I want function, not the latest design or crappy crap added that I will never use. Yes, I said crappy crap! A slot for a frozen pizza box?? omglolwtfbbq

                                  1. I blame companies like Samsung and LG who seem to incorporate good technology on devices where that technology would be useless but on the other hand would make tech geeks, clueless people and show offs buy them even more.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: iliria

                                      And people who want the functionality, in addition to those groups you note.

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        Cold water dispenser on the door I can understand and can class as functionality but wifi on a fridge goes into the "how to rip off your money" category.

                                        1. re: iliria

                                          Water dispensers are for show offs and clueless people.

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            Yeah, I just suck my water straight out of the garden hose too! *high fives*

                                            Alas, they don't often come with the option to ditch the ice and water once you get above a certain price level. After having mine flood back through the pantry, under the enclosed stairs, and seep out under the bottom stair so I discovered it with my socks on, I've lived with it disconnected and would never connect a new one if it wasn't optional. Insurance, disaster company, 4-5 industrial fans running for days, carpets lifted, wallboard soaked, etc., made filling an ice cube tray myself look pretty darn appealing.

                                            1. re: mlou72

                                              No option to not have them above a certain price level? What price level? Do you mean free-standing refrigerators? I just remodeled a few years ago and didn't find that to be the case, at least for built-ins. I can't imagine free-standing is any different.