Samsung adds a Sodastream dispenser to its new refrigerator


If you like sparkling water or homemade soft drinks flavored with syrup, the Samsung RF31FMESBSR four-door refrigerator might deserve a spot in your kitchen. Samsung partnered with Sodastream, manufacturer of the countertop soda makers that have become popular in recent years. The refrigerator’s dispenser uses the same CO2 cylinders as the countertop devices. The cost of the sparkling water works out to about 25 cents per liter, if you get 60 liters to the cylinder, according to Sodastream. Syrups, available in more than 60 regular and diet flavors, are an additional cost. The cylinders and syrups are available online and at 10,000 locations, so you shouldn’t have to travel far for replacements.

KitchenAid dishwasher recycles water as it washes

Twenty years ago, it wasn’t unusual for a dishwasher tested by Consumer Reports to use 10 gallons of water or more for a normal cycle. Today, because of tighter federal efficiency standards, half that amount is common. And this week, Whirlpool introduced a KitchenAid dishwasher that’s even more of a water miser, using up to a third less water with a water-recycling system made available two years ago in Europe.

The AquaSense Recycling system, which will appear first in Whirlpool’s KitchenAid, filters the water from the last rinse of one load of dishes and uses it to prerinse the next load. It stores the extra water in a slim tank on the side of the dishwasher (at right in photo), which holds a little more than three quarts of water, without the need to enlarge the dishwasher cavity. The rinse water is mostly clean, company representatives said, but contains a residual amount of detergent that makes the water slightly alkaline and discourages mold growth.

And AquaSense has other ways to keep the system clean. If you don’t use your dishwasher again within three days, or if you lose power for a period, the dishwasher drains the holding tank. And every 30 days (or 30 cycles), the unit adds an extra 30 minutes to a cycle to flush out the tank and lines with hot water.

First Truly Smart Resfrigerator

According to Samsung, the Family Hub name was chosen because the refrigerator “reconnects families.” I’m not so sure about that, but it is very cool with plenty of useful features.The 21.5-inch, 1080p touch screen on the right door is powered by Samsung’s Tizen operating system, though given the styling of the buttons below the display, it sort of looks like a gigantic Android phone. Unlike the older Samsung refrigerator we reviewed, the display doesn’t seem like a tablet that just happens to be tacked on. Instead, it looks and feels like an integral part of the experience.

Using the touch screen, you can post notes for your family, share calendar reminders, display art, or pin photos, just like you would on a real fridge, only without the wrinkled edges. But it also does a lot more than that. With a screen this large, you can basically use it like a TV (there’s a built-in speaker, which the earlier Samsung smart fridge we tested lacked), so you can watch along with a cooking show while you’re actually cooking.

Family Hub Refrigerator

But here’s the coolest part. There are three cameras on the inside of the refrigerator door (pictured above), and they capture an image every time the door closes. Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, you can access see the most recent picture from the inside of the fridge no matter where you are (like the grocery store) through an app on your smartphone, which can help prevent you from buying more of something you already have (or forgetting something you need). Check out the picture below.

Family Hub Refrigerator

You can just drag and drop time stamps to keep track of how long things have been sitting, which will give you a much better idea of when it’s time to chuck that old pint of milk.

And if you don’t feel like going out for groceries, you can use the refrigerator itself to order what you need, which might just be the most meta thing I’ve ever heard. It comes loaded with a MasterCard shopping app that lets you order what you need from FreshDirect or ShopRite to start, with more retailers promised for the future.

In addition to the touch screen, the refrigerator will also work Alexa, the voice assistant, though it isn’t clear how advanced the integration will be just yet.

The fridge itself is a four-door model, with the top two doors for refrigeration and the bottom two for freezing. If you don’t need all that freezer capacity, Samsung’s FlexZone feature lets you switch between freezing and refrigeration to suit your needs.

Family Hub Refrigerator

The Samsung Family Hub Refrigeration is expected to start at around $5,000 when it becomes available this spring. It will come in counter depth and full depth models, in stainless or black stainless color options. I’m looking forward to getting one in our test lab for a full review. I’m not sure if it will make the PCMag editorial crew feel like an even closer family, but it will make it easier to look inside the fridge from afar to see if anyone has left their lunch inside a little too long.