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Refrigerators

When it comes to kitchen appliances, what's LG Instaview?

Knock twice to get some transparency on this new technology

LG smart refrigerator with glass window with food inside. Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Zahnzinger

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Over the past few years, one of LG’s key smart innovations has been its Instaview technology, which the popular brand has been rolling out on several different types of large appliances.

In a few words, Instaview allows you to knock on a panel of opaque glass to access all types of special features, which vary per appliance. For example, on an LG refrigerator, it turns the glass transparent, allowing you to see your beverages and other fridge contents. On ranges and ovens, it lets you see inside the oven to check on its contents while they cook.

Given the increasing ubiquity of the feature, let’s take a look at just how this technology works, and if it’s worth the sometimes hefty price bump.

What is Instaview?

On left, LG smart refrigerator with transparent glass. On right, refrigerator filled with assorted beverages.
Credit: LG

LG's transparent LCD display combines convenience and innovation for users, while also cutting down on energy waste–which is an added plus.

Not to be confused with Thinq, LG’s smart platform, Instaview refers to the technology that lets you knock on a surface and have that surface suddenly turn transparent. While both fridges and ovens have models that fall under the Instaview moniker, this LG technology appears to use different techniques on different products.

The simplest implementation of Instaview application—as seen in refrigerators and most of their current ovens—relies on a mirrored piece of glass that turns on its interior lights when you knock on it. The lights eliminate the mirroring effect, which makes the glass appear to suddenly turn transparent.

More modern implementations of the technology use a large touchscreen and transparent LCD technology. You can access LG’s smart platform, Thinq, on the screen and also knock it to turn the screen transparent to see what’s inside.

Transparent LCDs are really where the magic happens, and it’s what is taking LG into the future of the smart kitchen. These types of screens use a transparent substrate, which lets you see through what would normally be white pixels. In the case of LG’s current Instaview products, this enables you to suddenly look through the screen, but in the future it could be used to provide dynamic overlays onto your food, such as scanning bar codes and letting you know how long it’s been sitting on the shelf.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of Instaview?

The main benefit of Instaview is that it enables you to look inside the fridge without opening the door. Fridges are built to keep cold air inside, and opening the door lets all that cold air escape. As a result, the fridge’s compressor kicks into overdrive to try to compensate for the rise in temperature, which is energy expensive.

The main downside of the technology, unfortunately, undercuts this benefit some: Glass is a poor insulator. If coldness is leeching out throughout the day, your compressor still has to work harder to maintain temperatures. This slow temperature drain is easier to compensate for, ensuring your food is cooled more evenly, increasing its shelf life.

So, is buying an LG appliance with Instaview worth a higher price tag?

LG smart refrigerator with transparent display.
Credit: LG / Reviewed

LG's appliance technology continues to become more progressive with time and we're optimistic about it.

If this were a few years ago, we would’ve answered a firm “no”: The early iterations of this technology bumped the price of products by hundreds of dollars, and the feature, while interesting, was little more than a novelty.

Now that the technology has progressed somewhat, we’re cautiously optimistic—and until we get more Instaview-decked refrigerators and ranges into our testing labs, this is where we’ll have to leave it.

Today, Instaview doesn’t come with as large a price increase, and LG seems to be experimenting with different substrates that could potentially insulate better, both of which portray a promising future for the innovation.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.