By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAS VEGAS — Major appliances once again played a prominent role at International CES, where manufacturers including Dacor, Haier, LG Electronics, Samsung and Whirlpool conspicuously displayed their latest white-goods wares.
For 2013, vendors refined and expanded the connected features that highlighted last year’s lines, and stepped away from the once highly touted, smart-gridenabled majaps whose energy-saving features are dependent on the cooperation of local utilities.
Instead, manufacturers outfitted their refrigerators, ovens, laundry pairs and robotic vacuum cleaners with wireless radios to render them Internet-ready devices, and developed a spate of mobile apps that consumers can use to operate and control them.
Using their tablets, smartphones or, in the case of LG, TVs, users can variously pre-heat ovens, change or delay operation cycles, track the contents of their fridge or receive alerts when a device is malfunctioning.
Perhaps the most critical remote function, offered by Samsung and Whirlpool, is an alert that’s automatically sent when the clothes dryer’s exhaust vent is blocked, ostensibly by lint, which is a leading cause of house fires.
Many of the latest Internet-enabled majaps will be ready for shipping within the March to June time period, manufacturers said, and consumers will likely pay only a modest $100 premium, on average, for the feature. The apps themselves will be free and made available for download from iTunes and the Google Play store.
Here’s a rundown of the latest and greatest in white goods at 2013 CES:
LG’s new platform, which includes refrigerators, laundry pairs and ovens, boasts an upgraded Smart Control feature that allows users to operate the appliances with voice commands via nearfield communications (NFC)-enabled smartphones, or to monitor them remotely over the Internet and on LG smart TVs.
Within refrigeration, the smart technology takes the form of a Smart Manager food-management system that provides a list of their refrigerator’s contents that can be viewed on the door’s LCD panel or via smartphone. Users can also input various food items to track their expiration dates, and Smart Manager can even recommend meals, provide recipes, and begin preheating LG’s smart oven based on available ingredients within the refrigerator.
LG has also upgraded its appliances’ self-diagnosis technology to better assess problems and alert the user via Wi-Fi, NFC tagging and audible diagnosis alerts.
In addition, the refrigerators’ LCD displays allow users to watch TV or cooking videos, check the weather or calendar, and upload and enjoy photos, music and movies.
Like its smart refrigerators, LG’s smart washers and dryers feature self-diagnosis technology that utilizes Wi-Fi, NFC tagging and audible diagnosis to alert users to possible malfunctions, while a Smart Adapt feature can download new wash-cycle programs such as Super Rinse or Baby Sanitize via smartphone or directly from the washer’s LCD panel.
Smartphone users can also monitor the status of their laundry pairs, change functions and settings remotely with voice commands, and receive pop-up alerts when a laundry cycle is completed. Users can also start, adjust or pause the wash cycles via LG smart TVs.
Likewise, LG’s smart ovens can also be monitored and operated using voice commands via a smartphone or smart TV, and can provide diagnostic alerts remotely. The ovens also allow users to search for recipes and program temperature and cook times over Wi-Fi or via NFC technology.
One of CES’s majap highlights was Samsung’s 32-cubic-foot, four-door T9000 fridge, which features a lower compartment that can be used as a either a refrigerator or freezer. The model has a unique, recessed handle design and 25.5 cubic feet of fresh food storage, which Samsung described as the most fresh food capacity in its class.
The T9000 employs two compressors and three evaporators to maintain commercial-grade humidity levels in the fresh food compartments, and its onboard LCD display includes the Evernote app that allows consumers to share photos, videos and recipes. The fridge is set to ship in June, although pricing was not announced.
In laundry, Samsung showed a 5-cubic-foot-capacity, high-efficiency top-load washer, which can handle the equivalent of 36 towels. The WA50F also features Samsung’s AquaJet water spray for improved cleaning performance, stylish chrome accents and a curved glass lid, and Internet-based Smart Care technology that can diagnose and troubleshoot problems remotely via iOS and Android mobile devices. The washer will ship June 1 and is priced to hit a suggested retail of $1,099 in white and $1,199 in stainless steel or platinum finishes.
Samsung also won a 2013 International CES Innovations Award for its induction range with a flexible cooking surface that accommodates pots or griddles that would not fit on a standard-sized heating surface. It also features a boil sensor that helps eliminate boilovers by alerting the user or automatically reducing heat to a pre-set level.
Haier’s key majap introduction was a 3.6-cubicfoot, high-efficiency top-load washer and companion 7-cubic-foot dryer that are clearly aimed at category leader GE. Competitively priced to hit a $549 retail, the 560 washer features a unique fin-shaped pulsator designed to provide exceptional cleaning with minimal wear and tear on clothes, while maintaining high water and energy efficiency. It is complimented by a cascading, wide-angle spray that thoroughly wets the wash load to prep and rinse clothes for thorough dirt and detergent removal.
The unit has three modes: washing, which evenly distributes the clothes and provides a powerful cleaning action; enhancing, which rotates clothing and helps prevent tangling; and balancing, which serves to maintain continuous circulation throughout the wash.
Available in white only, the 560 also features an LED display, smart-load sensing for automatic water level cycle time selection, and a variety of cycle options, including eco wash, soak, bulky, delicate and quick.
In cooking Haier showed a 30-inch electric double wall oven with 8.6 cubic feet of capacity and a dual-fan convection system; a 30-inch induction cooktop; and a 30-inch warming drawer.
In refrigeration, Haier introduced an under-the-counter line of built-in refrigerators, beverage centers and wine cellers. The stainless-steel fridge has a capacity of 4.31 cubic feet and a suggested retail of $1,599; the beverage center ($899) holds up to 150 cans and features doubled-paned glass and a stainless-steel doorframe; and the 48-bottle wine cellar ($999) has dual temperature zones, five glide-out wood racks and an anti-UV glass door with stainless frame.
Haier also cited data from The Stevenson Company and Euromonitor establishing it as the world’s largest majap manufacturer by unit volume.
TWICE’s CES white-goods coverage will continue in the Jan. 28 issue.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.