Appliances used to just do one job. Refrigerators kept the food cold; washers turned dirty shirts into clean ones. But then companies started introducing smart appliances, and the regular old icebox could suddenly do so much more.
The term “smart appliance” typically means that the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or oven has a mini computer inside, allowing a user to program it from afar or connect it to the Internet.
“This trend really started with TVs,” says Shawn DuBravac, director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group. “In 2010, 12 percent of televisions were connected to the internet. This year, 27 percent of TVs sold have internet access.” And while he says that ownership rates for things like smart refrigerators is lower, the trend has been growing over time and is expected to continue to do so. Here are some of the newest smart appliances to hit store shelves:
Phillips smart TVs were recently updated to include a brand new home screen, making it easier to use the television set to check Facebook, YouTube and more. The TVs also monitor usage and preferences and can use that information to recommend shows. For households that don’t have DVR, the internal Smart USB Recording means a user can pause live shows, schedule shows to record and record shows while watching something else.
The Samsung WF457 washing machine, which hits stores in March, can be controlled by a smartphone app to schedule a start time, monitor how much longer until a load is done, get alerted when the cycle is finished and remotely start or pause the washer. It also will send an alert to the phone if the washer needs a repair. It’s full of other features, too, and its capacity is large enough to fit 31 towels.
GE’s GeoSpring hybrid water heater uses half the energy of a typical water heater, but its green credentials don’t end there. It also works with the GE Nucleus energy management system, so a user can adjust its settings from a smartphone. Homeowners can turn the water heater temperature down when they leave town or boost the heat if they have house guests who take a lot of showers – all from the smartphone app. Plus it will send an alert if the filter needs cleaning or if something goes wrong, a feature that can save lots of money and hassle in the long haul.
Samsung’s RF4289 refrigerator comes with an LCD screen on the front that offers a feature called the Grocery Manager. It tracks the expiration time of perishables inside and can set reminders to use the food, so fresh fruits and veggies won’t go to waste. It also has a recipe app and a notepad to leave messages, for example, to tell the kids to lay off the cupcakes until after dinner.
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