Samsung RF28HDEDBSR review: Samsung's French-door Food Showcase fridge comes up just short

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

How cool is it?

Performance was the original Food Showcase refrigerator's Achilles' heel, with a number of hot spots that spiked as high as 48 degrees F when we tested it at the default 37-degree setting. I was curious to see if the French-door version would perform any better in the same test.

In the end, it did perform better, although we still saw a couple of hot spots. Like the original Food Showcase, the bottom of the right door was the warmest part of the fridge, and things got warmer than expected in the crisper bins, too. The high temperatures weren't nearly as egregious as what we saw in the side-by-side model, but they still came in north of 40 degrees F, a benchmark for food safety set by the Food and Drug Administration. That's warm enough to merit the dreaded orange tint in our heat maps.

The body of the fridge (the blue lines) did well, but the bottom shelves in each door (yellow and light green) ran warm. Ry Crist/CNET

The minute-by-minute graph of the 37-degree test is a bit chaotic to look at, but it tells the story well. Those blue lines represent the body of the fridge, and they did a good job of holding relatively steady. The two darker ones representing the top two shelves overlap for the entire test, hovering right at the 37-degree target. The bottom shelf (the light-blue line) came in about a degree warmer, but still did a nice job. Overall, the average temperature for the body of the fridge is 37.6 degrees, which is an excellent result.

Things were less excellent in the doors and drawers. The right door mirrored the body of the fridge in exaggerated fashion, with the bottom section coming in the warmest and sitting above 40 for the entire 72-hour test. The same was true in the left door, along with the added wrinkle of a top section that came in too cold. That isn't a huge surprise -- that top shelf sits face-to-face with the icemaker when the door is closed.

Performance improved at the 34-degree setting,but temperatures were still somewhat uneven. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We also test each fridge out at the 33-degree setting to see how it performs at the just-above-freezing mark. Samsung's fridges only dial down to 34 degrees at minimum, so we tested it at that setting instead.

The results were nearly identical, albeit shifted down a few degrees. The top and middle shelves again scored equally well, with the bottom shelf coming in about a degree warmer. Again, the hottest spots in the fridge were at the bottom of each door, although the lower setting kept things below 40 this time.

As for the freezer, performance was relatively steady throughout both tests, as the averages indicate. In each case, both the main body of the freezer and the upper drawer came in within 3 degrees of zero, our target temperature. During regularly scheduled door openings (a controlled part of our test protocol), temperatures spiked up a bit as you'd expect, but the freezer was always able to bring things back down. My only criticism: a few of those temperature spikes jumped as high as 20 degrees -- we've seen other models hold the spikes to less than 10.

After rearranging the shelves a bit, we were able to fit everything we wanted into the Food Showcase fridge. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Ample storage

With almost 20 cubic feet of fresh food storage space, I wasn't expecting to have much difficulty fitting our standardized load of test groceries into the Food Showcase fridge. And I didn't. The groceries made it in just fine, and when it was time to add in our six stress test items (a pitcher, a casserole dish, a party platter, a roasting pan, a cake tray and an extra-large pizza box), each one made it in with room to spare.

However, I wasn't quite able to fit all six in at once, at least not before rearranging the shelves a little bit. The cake tray ended up as the odd item out, and I was forced to lower the top shelf a bit to make room. Once I did, though, it fit like a glove.

This slide-out shelf is a good idea, but it doesn't glide as smoothly as it should. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's a strong result, though not quite as strong as we saw with the similarly priced LG LMXS30786S . That fridge managed to fit all of the groceries and all of the stress test items with room to spare, even without me rearranging anything. As we saw with that fridge, the storage features make a big difference, especially the shelves that make way for tall items. I like that Samsung gives you two of them, one that slides in and one that folds up.

The shelf that slides out is another good idea. I've been impressed with similar features in other fridges, as they can make it a lot easier to access stuff you're storing in the back of the fridge. It's a little less impressive in the Food Showcase fridge though, as it only spans one half of a shelf (the entire bottom shelf glides out in comparable LG models). It also doesn't glide all that smoothly, with too much resistance each time I tried pulling it out or pushing it back in. A little problem, for sure, but an annoyance nonetheless, and one that compromises the fridge's otherwise luxurious feel.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

The Samsung French 3-Door Food Showcase refrigerator offers some key improvements over the side-by-side model. The performance is better, with much milder hot spots than before, and the slate of features is vastly improved. Still, the original model stands alone as a side-by-side with door-in-a-door functionality. The French-door model, on the other hand, has to compete with a nearly identical LG Door-in-Door model that's much more well-rounded overall.

For that reason, I think Samsung made a mistake in ditching the bold aesthetic of the original in favor of something safer and more traditional. To fight off tough competition from LG, this fridge needs to stand out, and unfortunately, it just doesn't quite do enough.