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Commentary Refrigerators

Fridge rant: This Samsung shelf makes zero sense

Almost all of Samsung's fanciest fridges have the same, shelfish design flaw, and this fridge critic is tired of writing about it.

Now playing: Watch this: What the heck is this shelf in Samsung's fridges for?
2:19

All right, guys, there's something that I need to get off of my chest, something that's been gnawing at me for almost two years now.

There's a shelf in Samsung's refrigerators that bothers me.

Found in all of Samsung's high-end fridges, the middle left door shelf is way too narrow, and blocked from the top by a bulky overhang.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Specifically, it's the middle shelf on the left door of Samsung's high-end French and four-door fridges -- the Family Hub, the Chef Collection, you name it. My gripe is pretty simple.

This shelf is borderline unusable.

The problem is that, aside from a little nook in the corner that will hold, say, a single CNET water bottle, the shelf is almost comically narrow -- barely more than an inch thick in some models. To make matters worse, there's a big, bulky bulge of plastic directly above it that blocks things off from the top. As a result, it's almost impossible to fit anything inside of it -- although CNET's own Scott Stein suggested storing "loose salsa" in it, which, as it turns out, is exactly as off-putting as it sounds.

So why would Samsung's team use such a glaringly dumb design? They didn't have a response for me when I asked them, but the answer almost certainly lies with that big, plastic bump -- or, to be more specific, with the ice maker.

In some models, the shelf is too narrow to fit even a stick of butter or a single egg.

Ry Crist/CNET

See, that obtrusive bulge in the door is actually a chute for the refrigerator's ice maker (the "Ice Master," as Samsung brands it). It sits up on the refrigerator's top shelf eating up about a half cubic foot of precious storage space as it cranks out ice. Whenever you want a few cubes, it drops them down through the chute and into your waiting glass below.

That's all well and good, but there's a better way. Competitors like LG and GE squeeze the entire ice maker into the door in their competing French door models. That eliminates the bulky, problematic chute, and it frees up all of that space eaten up by in-fridge ice makers like the Ice Master.

In-door ice makers like the one in this LG fridge are just a flat-out better design with no overhang.

Ry Crist/CNET

The rub is that in-door ice makers like those tend to make about 25 percent less ice than full-size ice makers like the Ice Master, but I think that's more than fair as far as trade-offs go. And, if Samsung really wanted to keep the emphasis on ice production, they could just eliminate that middle door shelf altogether and make an in-door ice maker that's an inch or two thicker than it would have been otherwise. After all, you can't use that middle door shelf for much of anything as it is, so why not ditch it and put that space to better use? The extra storage space from removing the Ice Master would just be a bonus at that point.

I fully admit that this all amounts to a pretty minor quibble -- and to be clear, a lot of these Samsung models are perfectly good fridges overall. But refrigerators like these cost thousands of dollars, and if you buy one, you'll probably use it just about every day for as long as you own it. In situations like that, the little things matter.

So with all of that said, please Samsung, I'm begging you. Update your ice maker design and free up all of that wasted space.