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January 10, 2018

Samsung’s Bixby-powered Family Hub fridge is great at blasting tunes

by John_A

The company is eagerly trying to squeeze Bixby into just about everything, and its latest Family Hub fridge is no exception. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve had the opportunity to yell at a refrigerator — that was last year — but Samsung promises we’ll be able to ask for daily rundowns and control SmartThings-compatible gadgets like connected lights and thermostats. In other words, you can expect the full-blown Bixby experience, not just the limited list of voice commands we got last time.

Unfortunately, when we moseyed over Samsung’s massive booth, we discovered the software powering the fridge was far from finished. (No wonder Samsung only committed to a vague spring launch window.) Rudimentary commands like asking Bixby to show us what was inside the fridge — as relayed by a Samsung staffer with a headset mic — worked fine, as did requesting to see which food items inside the fridge were close to expiring. So far, so good.

Too bad that this early version of Bixby commands sometimes flubbed requests and seemed susceptible to cross-talk — having multiple people talking in the demo room led to meandering, mistaken commands because Bixby couldn’t tell when to stop listening. You’ll be able to create up to six user profiles, and Bixby should be able to distinguish between commands each of the people associated with them, but we sadly couldn’t check to see if Bixby could tell me apart from intrepid reporter Jess Conditt.

If nothing else, the AKG speakers embedded below the touchscreen sound excellent. We turned up the volume on some Beyoncé in the demo room, and it was more than loud and crisp enough to momentarily transport us outside that hot, small, glass cubicle. Who knew fridges could be so fun?

So yeah, this Bixby fridge is still a work in progress. When everything worked correctly, though, we got a glimpse of something impressive. Samsung is using Bixby as a sort of connective tissue to ensure that the experience of using a phone won’t differ too much from using Bixby on an appliance. Building those kinds of consistent experiences is key to Samsung’s plan to rule the home, and even though it’ll be a while before everything comes together, the company at least seems like it’s on the right track. With any luck, it won’t be too long before we get to see how well all these insane features really come together in the kitchen.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

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