I recently had the opportunity to play around with some of Samsung's latest generation of connected smart home products. There I was, in a luxury Bondi apartment with views of the sea and a huge bathtub that I was developing inappropriate feelings for. Yet I couldn't pull myself away from the smart fridge.
This is a tale about my few short hours with the 651L Family Hub 3.0.
Before we start, it's worth nothing that the smart fridge wasn't the only connected product in the display home. In fact, the latest Q9 QLED TV, QuickDrive washing machine and POWERstick vacuums were also set up.
From what I could tell throughout the day spent with the technician, all of the devices connected just fine to Samsung's SmartThings app - creating an EcoSystem of convenience and connectivity. I am keen to try it all out for myself over an extended period of time though, so I can really put it all to the test.
I'm particularly interested in spending more time with the QuickDrive. I love the idea of creating washing 'recipes' that optimise the types of items you have in your load. And the ability to control your cycle from anywhere sounds like a lifesaver.
My partner and I work long hours both at the office and home. We spend far too much time unable to remember when we last did a load, or forgetting that there's been wet washing sitting in the machine for two days.
The QuickDrive seeks to change that. And while this story may sound awfully domestic and boring, getting to see this bad boy in action actually made me give a damn about laundry - something that I didn't think was physically possible.
Anyway! We're here to talk about a fridge, not how much of a filth wizard I am. So let's get on with it.
What Is It?
As the name suggests, the Family Hub 3.0 is the third generation of Samsung's smart fridges. In addition to being compatible with SmartThings, it includes voice activation and a 21.5-inch touch screen.
You can use the screen for meal planning, online grocery shopping, screen mirroring, leaving notes for your family and playing music - plus more.
The latest Family Hub includes some new app partners, including Uber and Nespresso, as well as its previous app partners - Woolworths and Spotify.
What's It Good At?
This fridge is designed to make your life easier and streamline the time you spend in the kitchen. Again, I haven't gotten to spend time properly testing it out, but these are my favourite aspects so far:
- Cameras: The Family Hub contains three cameras that take shots inside your fridge every ten to fifteen seconds. So if need to do shopping, but are already out of the house, you can still check the fridge through SmartThings. That being said, there are limitations to visibility. You can only see what is on the front-facing shelves. Hopefully future Family Hubs will have the ability to scan the entire fridge.
- Apps: Samsung have rounded out its app offerings with added integration with each other, as well as Samsung software. For example, you can have Bixby read out the recipe you're cooking from the All Recipes and Chef's Club recipe apps. But like most current generation voice assist, it could be a little hit and miss at times.
- Shopping List Integration: In addition to being able to order from Woolworths online right from your fridge, you can copy your shopping list items over to the Woolworths app. Similarly, if you find something you want to cook in one of the recipe apps, the ingredients can be easily transferred across to your shopping list and the Woolworths app. I order groceries online a lot, so I really appreciate this feature. The list will also save in SmartThings, so you can have it on you when you're out at the shops too.
- Calendar: You can sync your entire families calendars and have them displayed on the family hub screen. Even with just two journalists living in my household, this is super helpful.
Not only is this thing big enough to hold All Of The Food - there is also a separate 'entertainer's drawer'. The cool thing (yeah I said it, fight me) about this is that you can set the temperature specifically for this drawer in order to optimise whatever you're storing. Wine lovers who don't have a dedicated vino fridge will likely appreciate this.
The temperature presets can also be used to convert the drawer for optimised meat and beverage storage.
I never thought that I would call a fridge 'fun', but here we are. I enjoyed being able to play around with the screen (though it was a little sluggish at times) - the bulletin board, browser and recipes in particular.
It was also amusing to watch Kotaku's editor Alex Walker valiantly try to get a browser game working. I don't think he has actually given up yet...
What's It Not So Good At?
It's difficult to pick up on issues when you only spend a few hours with a product and it's in an optimal setting. That being said, my main takeaway so far is that the Family Hub 3.0 just doesn't seem renter or apartment friendly yet.
At 908 x 1777 x 788mm, it's a beast and may not fit into fridge cavities in older properties. Even without a designated slot, it's still going to take up a large chunk of room, especially due to the depth. It almost feels like a kitchen has to be built with it in mind.
The water and ice dispenser may also be an issue for some people. I love these as inclusions, but I wouldn't be able to use them in my unit.
It needs to be hooked up to plumbing to work, and there is no option to draw from a water source inside the fridge, as previous Samsung and other brand models have done.
Of course, there are smaller Family Hubs available that will solve the above issues, but they aren't as tricked out at this one. And while I get that the clue is in the name - this is designed for families and family homes - I can't help but feel like some people will miss out on this product because of where they live, and that's a shame.
Should You Buy It?
With an RPP of $5,499, this particular version (there are also 671L and 634L versions with slightly different designs) of Family Hub 3.0 isn't cheap - it's absolutely an investment. But this is also what it has been designed for. You're not supposed to buy a 3.0 and then upgrade in a year or two.
This has been demonstrated with the software updates that will be rolled out to Family Hub 2.0 models from June 30. They'll have the same apps as the 3.0.
If you are fortunate enough to have the budget, as well as the kitchen space and capabilities to house this beautiful beast, it's worth considering. It's a great piece of smart home tech. I just hope that all of the best tech will be built into more accessible versions so more people can enjoy it to its full potential.
Samsung has released the Aussie pricing and release dates for its latest Family Hub smart fridge. Here are the details.