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GE GSE25HEMDS Side-by-Side Refrigerator (Black Slate) review: This midrange GE side-by-side fridge just can't keep its cool

That hot spot on the top shelf persisted even with the fridge dialed down to its coldest setting.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Open the thing up and you'll discover a pretty ho-hum interior that doesn't do much to separate itself from the pack. The shelves are glass and come with thick, spill-proof rims, both of which are all but standard among side-by-sides these days. You can pull those shelves out to make it easier to grab items in the back or to rearrange them, but none of them slide in or fold up and out of the way to make room for tall items below.

As for performance, the GSE25HEMDS was an undeniable disappointment in my cooling tests. At the default setting of 37 degrees, temperatures were more or less accurate throughout the bottom half of the appliance, but the top two shelves in the body of the fridge both returned average temperatures warmer than 40 degrees F, as did the top door shelf (the same goes for the butter bin, which, in fairness, typically runs warm by design).

That pattern held when I dialed the fridge down to its coldest setting of 34 degrees. The top shelf -- a common spot for milk and other temp-sensitive groceries -- was still several degrees off target, returning an average temperature of 40.6 over the course of a 72-hour test.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

At this price, you should expect better. For a few hundred more, the LG LSXC22436S offers better efficiency and performance that's much, much stronger, and it also includes a built-in Wi-Fi radio that can ping your phone if the kid ever leaves the door open. For now, I say that's the side-by-side to beat.

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