LG's newest fridge opens via voice, disinfects the water dispenser with UV light
Coming soon to CES 2021, LG's newest InstaView fridge is a pandemic-minded upgrade pick.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
LG's line of InstaView refrigerators have always used flashy features to attract customers -- most notably, the namesake glass window on the door that lights up to reveal what's inside whenever you knock on it. Now, for CES 2021, the South Korean retailer has a couple of new tricks up the InstaView's sleeve, including a door that opens via voice command and a water dispenser that uses UV light to sanitize your drink.
Both features are premium plays at peace of mind in the midst of a pandemic, where germ-killing light and hands-free appliance access might draw some extra attention from consumers. We'll see next month, when the yet-to-be-priced refrigerator is set to debut at a virtual, online-only version of the yearly CES tech showcase on Jan. 11. Plans for an in-person event in Las Vegas as in years past were scrapped this past summer due to COVID-19.
The refrigerator's voice-activated features use a built-in microphone and speaker, similar to a smart speaker. It's unclear if you'll be talking to a specific voice assistant with lots of established features or a bland, barebones AI, but the controls will at least let you open the door simply by saying, "Open the refrigerator door." You can also ask the fridge to display the day's agenda, or report the status of the water filter. As another filter feature, you can use Amazon Dash replenishment to automatically order a new one whenever your current one is close to used up.
Meanwhile, the UV light sanitizer built into the refrigerator's water dispenser is designed to fire off automatically once per hour, blanketing its interior with ultraviolet light capable of killing up to 99.99% of bacteria, per LG's tests. It's also worth noting that UV light is harmful to eyes and skin -- LG hasn't responded yet to my questions about how that light is housed, or whether it automatically deactivates if someone opens the dispenser for repair, but the company has been using this UVNano sanitizer in its high-end water filters and other products since 2017. We should expect to hear more about the safety features next month.
The UV light sanitizer and voice controls join the other bells and whistles that already come with the InstaView lineup, including a LinearCooling system that promises to keep temperature fluctuations inside the fridge at bay, the option for spherical "craft ice," and a Door-in-Door compartment that lets you access the refrigerator door shelves without opening the fridge itself. LG also notes that its new side-by-side InstaView models in 2021 will have a glass window that's 23% larger than before.
No word yet on what any of LG's newest InstaView refrigerators will cost next year, but you can expect that they won't come cheap. Available in a variety of designs and colors, most French door models already in the InstaView lineup currently start at around $3,000. In the past, we've seen premium LG refrigerators debut for as much as $4,000. We'll keep an eye out for them next month and let you know if we learn anything more.