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Refrigerators are a multibillion-dollar industry in North America — and you thought they just kept your vegetables fresh and your beer cold. Fridge makers are keen to score a bigger piece of that well-cooled pie by introducing new gizmos, gadgets and features of all kinds. New innovations range from a special temperature-control system to a smart fridge that connects you to recipe websites. Here's a peek at the latest smart fridges to hit the market
General Electric’s Café — It’s early and you need a cup of tea, stat. Or, it’s the middle of the night and you need a baby bottle ASAP to sooth a screaming infant. So you turn to ... your fridge? General Electric’s Café refrigerator boasts an industry first: a hot water dispenser. A control panel allows you to choose from four preset temperatures (185 degrees F for soup, 170 degrees F for tea, and so on) or set the temperature yourself. Up to 12 ounces of filtered hot water can be dispensed in two minutes – more than enough for that early-morning oatmeal. Suggested retail price: $3, 999.
LG Smart Thinq — How smart is your fridge? LG newest Smart Thinq model runs the Android operating system, which you’re probably used to seeing on mobile phones and tablets. The fridge features a Wi-Fi LCD screen and comes with a built-in app called Food Manager, which tracks what’s inside and how long it’s been around, as well as Google Calendar, Photo Album and a handful of others. Too bad you can’t download Angry Birds onto it. But you can search recipes, note what ingredients you need to buy and send the shopping list to your smartphone.
SAMSUNG T9000 — Samsung’s four-door fridge has 32 cubic feet of storage capacity and an obvious appeal for those who like to divide and conquer. The bottom left compartment is a freezer and the bottom right can be used as one, too. But that’s not the best part for gizmo geeks. The fridge has a ten inch LCD screen that includes the Evernote application, which allows users to share photos videos and recipes with family and friends. It’s also got a calendar and weather apps to help you plan barbecues. Makes that grocery list stuck to the fridge with a magnet look pretty outdated. Suggested retail price: is $4, 599. Editor's note: The Samsung T900 retail price was originally incorrect in this article. It has been corrected.
LIEBHERR SBS 244 — This spring, the German manufacturer Liebherr introduces its patented technology, called BioFresh Plus. The 48 inch, built-in stainless-steel fridge has three compartments with independent temperature controls that can be adjusted from 28 degrees F, best for keeping fish, to 48 degrees F, ideal for exotic fruits. Food stored in these special compartments retain their vitamins, aroma and “fresh appearance” up to three times longer than conventional fridges, according to the company. Suggested retail price: $9,000.