Convergence comes to kitchens with new Samsung appliances

Technologies have been converging for some time now. Our phones are technically computers. Compact cameras can now surf the web. All in all, it’s a very mixed up world, and that’s a good thing, but it won’t stop with our phones, cameras, tablets, or laptops, with kitchen appliances getting a taste of it too.

Shown at the Samsung Forum in Jakarta recently, at least one company is eyeing off the kitchen as a place to make whitegoods and other appliances do more than just the regular duties we ask of them.

Two appliances were launched there that, while still function the way they were originally designed and intended, pack in features designed to let you retire other devices that may already be in use in your home, or even allow you to stop buying a few things from the supermarket altogether.

One of these is a fridge that, while it functions like a regular fridge – you know, chilling your food and keeping iced treats in their uber-cold state – also packs in a section that can be equipped with a SodaStream tank.

Together with the regular water dispenser, this refrigerator – the RF31M – can release soda water on command, minimising extra costs if you’re constantly purchasing bottles of soda water from the store.

It packs in a fair bit of food, too – about 860 litres – and will feature an energy rating of 3.5 stars (as will all of Samsung’s 2012 fridges) but we’re impressed by this little sparkling addition.

We checked with the Samsung people on the day and found out that while the SodaStream pump was inside the fridge, it was specifically for water, and the extra syrups used in SodaStream appliances couldn’t be used here, so there won’t be any automatic-fridge cola for you here.

Still, we suspect it won’t be long before someone works out a way to replace the SodaStream parts with the tubing needed to plug in a beer keg, with homebrewers already working on ways to integrate their home-made beer batches into regular fridges without the taps.

If this is possible, this fridge could be a better option for home-made beer and cider, even if it isn’t really what Samsung developed the fridge for.

The other gadget that grabbed our attention for kitchen convergence in Jakarta was a microwave.

When you think of microwaves normally, you generally think of warming up food. We’re geeks, so cold pizza gets a mention at least once, but there’s more than that, with microwaves heating up milk for beverages, ingredients for cooking, and even defrosting things.

But what about a microwave that makes yoghurt, dough, and can even fry your chips?

At least one of Samsung’s microwaves that looks set to land in Australia this year include new modes that can do just that, with a built-in “fermentation mode” able to turn a litre of milk into yoghurt overnight, while also being able to separately rise dough.

We saw two at the launch, but the one that’s looking good for Australian release is the 32 litre MC32F6, which can make yoghurt while you sleep.

Air frying is also possible from this microwave oven, but truth be told, the term “frying” is hardly right for this technology, and as far as we understand, Samsung’s “SlimFry” works by turning the microwave a super hot fan-forced oven, which cooks using an immense amount of heat fairly quickly.

Still, the technology existing inside of a microwave means there’s at least one other gadget you may already own that can be thrown out, with the deep fryer no longer needed, and the results here not needing oil, which should make the resulted “fried food” essentially better for you.

Other technologies were included in the announcement, such as a sensor that enables the microwave to determine the surface temperature of the food as it cooks and work out when the meal has finished cooking, a grease and oil resistant interior, and specific settings for controlled heating to make the slight melting of ice cream or reheating of baby milk easier.

Samsung’s range of new whitegoods should hit Australia this year, with the SodaStream-enabled fridge (RF31M) arriving mid-year, while the yoghurt-making microwave ovens (MC32F6, possible the MC455T) should be on shelves by the end of the year.



Leigh D. Stark travelled to Samsung Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia as a guest of Samsung Australia