Earlier today Samsung held its CES press conference. Connected homes was a big focus, with upgrades to Bixby, Samsung's smart washer and dryers and of course, the Family Hub.
Samsung's smart fridge continues to be my most coveted smart home appliance. I came to CES hoping that perhaps, finally, a smaller one would be announced.
Alas, the wait continues.
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.
In fact, there's no new Family Hub just yet. The upgrades are all software based.
The biggest change is the addition of the Family Board - a new screen experience that lets people in your house communicate more effectively.
Its now easier to add digital notes, reminders, stickers and photos the the Family Hub - the latter only taking seconds to upload from your phone.
Bixby has been upgraded for the Family Hub, too. It will be able to answer more complex questions and understand more natural language so you don't have to talk like a stilted robot for it to understand you.
Bixby will also be able to show you the information you want on the Family Hub screen - such as recipes - which can then be read aloud.
Samsung has said that all the new smart fridge features will be available automatic update for "most" earlier Family Hub models. That could mean that first gen models will miss out, but that's not currently clear.
“When we first launched Family Hub three years ago, it was an app-based experience anchored in food management, family connections and entertainment,” said John Herrington, Senior Vice President, General Manager of Home Appliances, Samsung Electronics America. “Today we are introducing the latest version of Family Hub featuring Bixby with AI capabilities. Bixby now provides a new level of connectivity and intelligence designed to make everyday tasks much easier. When combined with our new Family Board, the Family Hub is the perfect combination of convenience and connectivity.”
While a more dynamic and easier-to-use Family Hub is cool... it really doesn't help those of us who don't have the option of buying one.
I've talked about this particular barrier to entry before, and my argument remains relevant in 2019. There needs to be a smaller Family Hub model.
As a renter and apartment dweller in Sydney, there's no where for this giant 908 x 1777 x 788mm appliance to go. Believe me, I've tried.
Not only will it not fit in my fridge cavity, the depth of the thing is too great to fit go anywhere in my kitchen without it blocking a thoroughfare.
Then there's the issue of the ice maker in last year's 3.0 model. I'd love to be able to take advantage of that feature, but it needs to be hooked up to plumbing. That counts my plebeian renter arse out.
While all this complaining could be construed as purely negative, it comes from a place of love.
My partner and I are both tech journalists from a DINK (Dual Income No Kids) household. As early adopters we should be one of the target markets for this product.
But because we don't live in a suburban house or a multi-million dollar city apartment, we can't have one.
And so I must continue to live in hope that one day I'll be able to have the Jetson fridge of my dreams.
Until then, I will be salivating from afar.
The author travelled to CES 2019 as a guest of Samsung and Dell.