Refrigerators Are So Cool, They're Even TVs
Apparently, your refrigerator will soon be able to dispense coffee -- at least if you buy a GE fridge. Stand by, too, for refrigerators that make seltzer, play television shows or allow you to make phone calls.
The futurist in me is excited by the gee-whizzery of it all. The appliance nerd in me is wondering if all these features are such a good idea.
First, the obvious plus: Bundling these features into your refrigerator allows you to free up counter space by taking out a coffee machine or television set. For those of us in smaller urban kitchens, that's a pretty big bonus.
On the other hand, a bundled appliance has some major drawbacks. You get pretty limited choices -- the GE refrigerator comes with a Keurig-style unit, and if you don't like pod coffee, too bad. They're expensive. And most worrying is the cost if something breaks: Suddenly, it's no longer a matter of going down to Target for another Mr. Coffee; you'll need an appliance repairman to swap out the module.
But in the fiercely competitive appliance market, manufacturers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. The appliances can't really get much bigger, not only because they fit into standard slots, but also because most kitchens don't have that much space to put them. So why not stick on a seltzer dispenser and see if customers will pay?
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