HomeGadgetsHome GadgetsSmart Appliances: Gimmick or Super Gadgetry?

    Smart Appliances: Gimmick or Super Gadgetry?

    Smart Appliances: Gimmick or Super Gadgetry?


    The Workbench Life: Baby Blogs

    By Ron Geraci for The Workbench Life

    Since the 1950s, Americans have anticipated the day when our refrigerator, oven and washer would perform feats of magic while we sat around in foil bodysuits. How close have smart appliances brought us to that day? That depends on your love of tech — and how much you value raw utility versus tickling add-ons.

    Companies use the term “smart appliances” loosely, but hallmarks are an LCD screen and WiFi connectivity — and a price that’s often $1,000 more than un-smart models that perform the primary job just as well. Herein lies the biggest gripe about smart appliances: for all their witchy tricks, most still can’t wash clothes, cook dinner, clean dishes, store food or de-wrinkle your shirt significantly better than their cheaper, “dumber” counterparts.

    That said, some “smart” features can be useful if they suit your lifestyle, and others can save headaches or yield “green” benefits. Below are common perks these cool kitchen gadgets offer.

    Remote access. You can control your washer and dryer, dishwasher or oven via your smartphone. Sadly, you still have to load your washer and put the turkey in the oven, which cuts the “wow” factor here. But you’ll never again have to wonder if you shut off the stove.

    Grocery apps and Internet browsers. Use your refrigerator screen to compile grocery lists, find recipes or peruse Facebook.

    Lots of additional settings. A smart washer, for example, can have dozens of wash cycle options (rather than the usual eight or 10), to target specific types of laundry (like bedding, gym clothes) or stains (grease, food, etc.), plus the ability to save custom cycles.

    Email alerts. Your oven will email you when the cookies are done, and your washer will shoot you a note if it’s unbalanced.

    Detailed usage reports. To find out, say, how much power your fridge used last month.

    Diagnostic technology and alerts. Your washer will tell you what kind of servicing it needs, and a support rep will log into your dryer to fix glitches that don’t need a repair visit.

    Technology keeps advancing. Soon, you’ll see home
    products that learn about you. For example, if you typically shower at 7 a.m.
    on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends, your smart water heater will catch on. Be
    on the lookout for ever-smarter robot mops, microwave
    , keyless deadbolts
    and other household items.

    RON GERACI is a writer living in New York. In 2006, he built his own workbench, which doubles as a writing desk. It has six legs and can theoretically support 1320 pounds, though he’s only personally tested it for about half of that load. From that desk, Ron has penned several books and contributed to many publications including Men’s Health, and AARP.

    David Novak
    David Novak
    For the last 20 years, David Novak has appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV around the world, reviewing the latest in consumer technology. His byline has appeared in Popular Science, PC Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Electronic House Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, Forbes Technology, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Glamour Magazine, T3 Technology Magazine, Stuff Magazine, Maxim Magazine, Wired Magazine, Laptop Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Indiana Business Journal, Better Homes and Garden, CNET, Engadget, InfoWorld, Information Week, Yahoo Technology and Mobile Magazine. He has also made radio appearances on the The Mark Levin Radio Show, The Laura Ingraham Talk Show, Bob & Tom Show, and the Paul Harvey RadioShow. He’s also made TV appearances on The Today Show and The CBS Morning Show. His nationally syndicated newspaper column called the GadgetGUY, appears in over 100 newspapers around the world each week, where Novak enjoys over 3 million in readership. David is also a contributing writer fro Men’s Journal, GQ, Popular Mechanics, T3 Magazine and Electronic House here in the U.S.

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