CES kicks off the tech conference calendar each year, but Las Vegas always follows it right up with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). The KBIS focus always falls on home appliances, and one of this year's spotlight product lines is the Signature Kitchen Suite, a new series of premium-branded appliances designed by LG. Perhaps the signature Signature offering (and its priciest): a 42-inch built-in side-by-side smart refrigerator that costs $9,800.
Like the rest of Signature lineup, the new fridge is priced as a high-end luxury and built to compete with the likes of Viking and Sub-Zero. Yes, $9,800 is an awful lot to spend on a fancy fridge -- but it's less than comparable models like the Viking VCSB5423SS and the Sub-Zero BI-42S/. Both of those models cost over ten grand, and neither one offers smart features.
With the Signature fridge, those smart features cover the basics. You'll be able to sync the fridge up with an app on your Android or iOS device and receive alerts if anything's ever amiss, for instance, but you won't find any of the flashy touchscreen controls that you'll get with the $5,000 Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator that debuted earlier this month at CES.
The better comparison might be the $3,800 Whirlpool Smart French Door Refrigerator, which also premiered at CES. No touchscreen on that model either, but it will alert your phone if the power goes out or the filter needs replacing. It'll also sync with the Nest Learning Thermostat to help run nightly defrost cycles when usage rates are at their lowest.
The built-in design of the Signature side-by-side is intended to blend in with high-end kitchens. It isn't disguised as a set of cabinets like some built-in models, but it is constructed to integrate seamlessly with existing cabinetry, keeping the top and sides of the fridge unseen.
It isn't LG's first attempt at selling a high-end built-in refrigerator. In recent years, the South Korean manufacturer offered a premium built-in model as part of its LG Studio line. That fridge has since been discontinued, but the new Signature model looks to be cut from the same cloth, with the same basic design, the same 42-inch width, and the same 25.6-cubic foot capacity.
What's new are the smart features and the "Signature" branding (you won't find the name "LG" anywhere on the fridge at all). LG's hope is that both combine to make a refrigerator that's compelling enough to steal some business away from the Vikings and Sub-Zeros of the industry. We'll see how successful it is when it arrives at retail -- representatives from LG tell us to expect it to enter the US market sometime in early 2016, with plans for a broader rollout later in the year (that $9,800 price tag comes out to about £6,900, or AU$14,150, converted roughly).