While big TV’s and fast computers steal the show at the Consumer Electronics Show, we saw plenty of gadgets for your kitchen, home, and garden this year that will make you believe the future is bright.
Samsung Family Hub
The first up on our list is the Samsung Family Hub. Currently, in its fourth generation, the Family Hub seeks to become the center of your home. It has a feature called Family Board, a digital bulletin board that displays photos, artwork, and messages. The Family Hub also has Amazon Dash and Uber integration as well. Samsung is making an effort to have their smart platform useful in every situation.
Imagine being at the store, planning what to make for dinner. With the Family Hub you can use the app to see what is in your fridge via the built-in camera, play your favorite Spotify playlist or look up a recipe while cooking, or even use the mirror function to watch a recipe video on your phone. Ordering takeout and punting on dinner until tomorrow? You can use the Instacart and Amazon Dash features to order what you need.
As John Herrington, SVP General Manager of Samsung told us during an interview, “It's wherever you are. It's where you are within the home or outside with your phone, the ecosystem all works.”
KitchenAid Cook Processor Connect
The Swiss army knife of the kitchen has arrived. The KitchenAid Cook Processor Connect can boil, fry, steam, stew, knead, weigh, chop, mince, puree, mix, emulsify, whip, and stir. While you can get specialized tools to do each of these tasks, this KitchenAid has a leg up on them all: it can weigh and keep track of the ingredients inside of it.
If you know what a Thermomix is but want one that was engineered with an American cook in mind, then you need to check this out.
Whirlpool Smart Countertop Oven
If you pay a lot for a fancy toaster oven, it should be able to cook well. If we take a hot pocket out of an $800 smart countertop oven, we expect the inside not to be frozen. Whirlpool had the same expectations. That’s why the Smart Countertop Oven is equipped with cameras and sensors that can tell the difference between frozen, thawed, and cooked food. Whirlpool knows a thing or two about ovens so we expect great things.
GE Kitchen Hub
When we first saw the Kitchen Hub we thought it was just a tablet attached to an over-the-range hood. However, the more we learned, the more impressed we became. First, the hood has a set of cameras facing downwards so you can share what you’re cooking. With the U+ platform, you can stream what you’re cooking to loved ones and even interact with cooking instructors so you don't screw anything up.
We also liked that GE actually expects people to cook around the Kitchen Hub because it comes with a low-powered vent that prevents oily smoke from touching the screen.
Samsung’s Bixby-Enabled Laundry Sets
Unlike Amazon or Apple, Samsung has a lot of experience making washers and dryers. So when the company announced that Bixby would be able to puzzle out the best way to treat stains, our ears perked up. You ask Bixby how to clean a mustard stain on jeans, and the A.I. assistant will give you an answer based on Samsung’s vast laundry experience. If you’re in a hurry, Bixby will able to start cycles so they’ll finish when you’re free.
As cool as the smart features are, our favorite feature (and the most innovative) is probably the one that sounds the least exciting: SuperSpeed, a spray pattern that allows an eight-pound load of laundry to be completed in just 30 minutes. We've tested this feature on high-end Samsung washers before and found they can achieve the same clean at the expense of more water.
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 960
Ecovacs makes a wide variety of robot vacuums, from highly affordable workhorses like the N79S to innovative models like the 930. The 960 falls into the latter category, with a host of new features that put it up against the best of the best.
The 960 has AIVI (Artifical Intelligence and Visual Interpretation), which allows it to see objects on the ground and avoid them. We’ve all seen the viral videos of robot vacuums making a mess because they bump into or spread stuff they shouldn’t be—if you haven't, just know that you'll never look at dog poop the same way again.
Though its AI features may or may not deliver as promised, we spent some hands-on time with the 960 and what we saw makes us believe that this new model at least has the raw cleaning power of the excellent 930, which is in our top five best vacuums we’ve ever tested.
Over the years, iLife robot vacuums have proven themselves to be affordable dust busters. For 2019, we’re looking forward to testing the iLife A9s. It’s going to bring everything we like from this brand: value and practicality.
See, the A9s is a combination of robot vacuum and mop. Unlike other robot vacuums at the sub-$300 price point, the A9s doesn’t try to set itself apart with smart features or Alexa compatibility. The A9s’ special feature is a vibrating water tank. Robot mops don’t have the mass to give a floor a good scrubbing, so this model uses very quick vibrations in order to work away stains.
Growing plants inside your home can be a challenge. If you live in a cloudy climate, window planters don’t provide the yields you might be looking for. You could try grow lamps but they’re bulky and often very ugly.
There’s where the Miracle-Gro Twelve comes in. It comes in regular and Sola edition. We think the regular Twelve is the most impressive. It comes in stackable frames that also act as end tables. The grow lamps are underneath and can be turned to less distracting settings when you have guests over.
The kit comes with one month’s supply of nutrients, pH balancers, and seed plugs. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry: the Twelve is a set-it-and-forget system. It has a two-gallon reservoir and a Bluetooth-enabled app that tells you about water levels.
While the Twelve isn’t for everyone, it is the perfect solution for someone who wants to brighten up a room with flowers or wants year-round fresh herbs—without having to figure it all out on your own.