AirTalk for January 24, 2013

Should ‘smart’ appliances stay dumb?

2013 Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Newest Technology

David Becker/Getty Images

Samsung's Smart Care washer and dryer are on display at the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As the digital age continues to expand, consumers get the pleasure of seeing older appliances mix with emerging technology. Sometimes this is a blessing, as nowadays some refrigerators, washers and dryers have been designed in such a way that they use less energy more efficiently than ever before. That’s a good thing.

But sometimes manufacturers take a Frankenstein’s monster approach to integrating the modern technology with older appliances. For instance, a $4,000 refrigerator from Samsung at the recent Consumer Electronics Show has a touch screen and WiFi. One of the features is so you can use the screen to come up with a grocery list. But couldn’t you just use your phone, and then take it to the store? And what about the WiFi? Do you really need to download the new Justin Bieber album on your fridge? If so, maybe don’t invite anyone over when you’re making lunch.

Also, there are now washers and dryers that allow you to start a laundry cycle from your phone. That’s handy, sure, but how are you going to load the laundry into the machine and pour in soap if you’re not at home? While these appliances may be duds, there has to be a way to use today’s technology to make appliances better, right?

Slate’s Farhad Manjoo has some ideas of his own for improvements. Have you purchased any of these disappointing appliances and been let down by the technology? Have you seen them in use? What do you wish your appliances could do? Think outside the ice box.

Guest:
Farhad Manjoo, tech writer for Slate


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