Large manufacturers at CES 2018, including LG and Samsung, are betting big on smart connected appliances designed to take the hassle out of everyday tasks. Here we take a look at what was launched, and get out our crystal ball to predict the future of your kitchen.
Disappointingly, there was a notable absence of new appliances from LG and Samsung. Both manufacturers instead focused on adding new smart features to existing ranges, in particular fridge freezers, and expanding connectivity options to make everyday tasks easier. Read on to find out more about what was announced.
Fridge freezer Best Buys – find out which models we recommend.
LG’s focus at CES 2018 was promoting the ThinQ platform – its AI (artificial intelligence) software for your home – which is designed to connect to home appliances, everything from your fridge freezer and washing machine to your TV and speakers.
It also unveiled Cloi, pronounced Kloo-ee, a robot created to let users control and manage their smart home (although it won’t be available in the UK), which unfortunately proved to be rather stage shy at LG’s press conference.
Connected LG appliances, such as the LG GSX961NSAZ InstaView fridge freezer, are now compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, meaning you can control your connected kitchen with just your voice.
There is a catch, though. Neither the Amazon or Google platforms come built into any LG device in the UK (that benefit is currently reserved for the US market) and therefore means that UK users will have to own an Amazon or Google smart hub to make use of this feature.
To further complicate matters, it’s unclear which ThinQ appliances, including the EasyClean Ovens and QuadWash dishwasher, will be available in the UK.
We have already had LG’s Instaview fridge freezer in our test lab. Head over to the full LG GSX961NSAZ InstaView review to find out if it’s a cool customer.
Samsung SmartThings and Family Hub
Similarly to LG, the focus for Samsung was less on new hardware and more on updates to the software for its connected home appliances. The Family Hub Smart refrigerator received an update that adds support for Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant, which allows it to recognise individual voices and personalise the information provided for each member of the household – giving you your schedule for the day, for example.
It could help reduce your food wastage too, by alerting you to foods that are due to go off and providing recipes for using them up. There are also AKG speakers in case that’s something you’ve been missing in your fridge up to now.
To find out how the original model performed, head over to our full Samsung Family Hub RB38M7998S4 review. Or you can find out more about the SmartThings platform by reading our Samsung SmartThings Hub review.
Essential tech or useless novelty?
It’s not the first time smart home appliances have been showcased by big brands at CES, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the question is whether or not these appliances truly have a place in your kitchen. And, importantly, whether they are actually useful.
One of the most important considerations with these connected products is cost. The LG InstaView fridge freezer, for example, costs around £1,800. Given that the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant functions aren’t built in, you’ll need to spend between £30 and £200 to unlock the potential of this feature.
There’s also the question of uptake. Will the smart kitchen be popular enough to really take off and become the future of the home? In our November 2017 reliability survey, Which? members told us that they expect their fridge freezer to last for more than 13 years, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see an LG GSX961NSAZ InstaView or Samsung Family Hub in every kitchen any time soon.
Finally, it’s important to take a good look at the hardware that’s on offer and whether it’s truly advanced – and reliable – enough to be useful on a daily basis. Most of us have experienced an issue with our smartphones, whether it’s a frozen screen or important updates that start at an inconvenient time. Imagine if that happened to your kitchen. Features intended to be useful could become cumbersome.
This was highlighted further by the performance of LG’s Cloi robot, which repeatedly failed to respond to commands on stage at the LG conference. If it can happen at this event – a place where precautions must surely have been taken to avoid on-stage embarrassment – then is it really ready to be rolled out to consumers, and is there enough support in place to tackle issues users might encounter?
To find out whether a smart home appliance is right for you, and how to get the most from it, head to our smart home appliances explained guide.