Believe it or not, this thing will keep your pomegranate juice cold, too.

Photographer: David Becker/Getty Images

Refrigerators Are So Cool, They're Even TVs

Megan McArdle is a Bloomberg View columnist. She wrote for the Daily Beast, Newsweek, the Atlantic and the Economist and founded the blog Asymmetrical Information. She is the author of "“The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.”
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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?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Megan McArdle at

To contact the editor on this story:
Brooke Sample at