Elegant, tall, with a matte sheen of “Art Hairline Steel” — the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator hums almost inaudibly (30 dBA according to the manufacturer) in the corner of the kitchen of our country house. A powerful 21.5‑inch Full-HD touchscreen glows on the top door, clearly demonstrating that this approx.
With its smart Family Hub features, it could combine a food manager, a shopping assistant, a kitchen information and entertainment center, a home control system — and indeed a meeting place for the whole family. But how much he succeeds, we tested in practice for 14 days.
As a combination refrigerator and freezer, the Family Hub does the job. The lower part is a four-star freezer with a capacity of 130 liters with three spacious drawers. The top door opens the 226-litre refrigerator with a good view, including a wine rack, a drawer for vegetables, and an additional drawer in the freshness area.
Both sections offer a Power Cool function and a corresponding Power Freeze function, in case large volumes of products need to be placed immediately after a bulk purchase.
Family smart communication
With the help of WLAN, the Family Hub connects to the Internet through our router, in particular, to the Samsung home server. There we set up an account, after which we can connect smartphones of all family members (and those who want to be one of them) to our Family Hub. With the Smart Home app (for Android and iOS), we manage the schedule in shared calendars, upload photos to albums, leave messages in the whiteboard area on the touch screen, and even while in the supermarket or market, we can quickly see what not enough at home in the refrigerator — theoretically!
Every time the fridge door closes, three cameras take a group shot of the inside. The illustration shows the Food Reminder on the touchscreen and in the smartphone app and reflects the stock of food at a certain moment — but only three-quarters! After all, what lies in the freshness preservation zone or is placed in the drawers of the door is not visible to the cameras.
The review becomes even worse when using the Food Reminder function. Each object on the photo of the refrigerator can be marked with a marker on the touch screen and write on it the expiration date, as well as the name of the marked product.
True, these markers do not follow their objects. In just a week, the photo of the contents of the refrigerator will be flooded with markers that no one can arrange in order. Because the initially labeled products have long been moved to another place or used up, and after the next purchase, in any case, no one thinks about accurate labeling.
Unfortunately, the corresponding application does not save locally. If the connection to the Family Hub fails, it reports a “Connection Error” and gives a recommendation in broken language: “connect to Wi-Fi or mobile data.” Just what you want to hear among the hustle and bustle in the mall!
No use without a network
Relying solely on WLAN as a network connection is not particularly wise. WLAN coverage is not ideal not only among the stone walls of old village houses, but also in the concrete walls of urban new buildings. Especially if the network is overloaded, not without the participation of family members of middle and senior school age, and even turns off for educational purposes. It would be better to use a powerful LAN or Power LAN here — after all, the Family Hub should also create a festive atmosphere in the kitchen.
But we looked in vain for the possibility of streaming a variety of entertainment from the home NAS towards the kitchen. The TuneIn media player only searches the internet for web radio. The USB connector at the top of the door is also not a suitable alternative — it can only be used to display photos and download updates.
But the built-in browser plays HTML5 content, so YouTube very quickly became our favorite smart fridge feature. Although it is also possible to transmit images from a home TV, this requires the current Samsung model. The same applies to other smart home appliances. Can only be connected to Samsung products and NEST thermostats. Our Osram lighting control or the Arlo camera above the front door are not included in this system.
Of course, a smart device should be equipped with voice control — but it did not inspire us either. The Family Hub refrigerator reacts to “Hi Samsung” only if you stand at arm’s length in front of it, and in this case, communication is more like a lottery.
At the same time, there would not be so many difficulties if the Android operating system were used on the Family Hub instead of Tizen, developed by Samsung itself. Every smart home appliance manufacturer offers an app for Google. But that forces us to settle for the little that comes by default: an interesting but English-only collection of recipes from Samsung’s own Chef’s Club, recipe portal Allrecipes, and Eataly, the Italian food supply specialist.
As elegant as the Family Hub fits into our kitchen, for now, it’s better to invest in buying a big Android tablet and sticking it to our old Bosch refrigerator instead.
+ Convenient distribution of internal space, Internet access, family calendar and messages, no noise
- WLAN only connection, inaccessible internal cameras, no DNLA, limited app selection