back to article Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

A report from consumer advocates Which? highlights the shockingly short lifespan of "smart" appliances, with some losing software support after just a few years, despite costing vastly more than "dumb" alternatives. That lifespan varies between manufacturers: Most vendors were vague, with Beko offering "up to 10 years" and LG …

  1. Steve Kerr

    Never understood this

    Smart fridge, app tells you what's in the fridge - or, just open the door.

    Smart washing machine - just set the timer?

    So far, in my life - I haven't seen the need for for any of these devices that seem to solve a problem that didn't exist in the first place.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Never understood this

      I have a huge Hisense fridge, no freezer on it as I prefer that separate, it has a little LED display for temperature and it keeps everything cold, seems pretty smart to me.

      Short of a robo-butler anything else in the house will not be smart and anyone who needs to tweet while stocking their freezer needs to get a life.

      1. keith_w Bronze badge

        Re: Never understood this

        But don't you want your fridge to email you saying "Kid drank last the milk, pick up milk on the way home"? /s

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          @ keith_ w

          I'm retired, any kid that gets into my house will never get as far as the fridge, the cat will have savaged them on entry.

          My cat is large white and really doesn't like strangers.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Never understood this

            My cat is large white and really doesn't like strangers.

            Is your cat called Arthur?

          2. Jim Mitchell

            Re: Never understood this

            Is it a Persian and are you a Bond villain I would recognize?

          3. rcxb Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            My cat is large white and really doesn't like strangers.

            Doubly so when they intend to drink all his milk...

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              Most cats are lactose intolerant. Milk is built for baby bovine vegans, not feline carnivores.

              1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

                Re: Never understood this

                That'll explain the cat's mood, then.

              2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                Most adult cats are lactose intolerant.

                FTFY

                Milk is built for baby bovine vegans, not feline carnivores.

                That watery stuff in your kitchen with the label milk was (before it was maltreated), the stuff produced by female feline carnivores for their suckling young is specifically meant of juvenile feline carnivores, but somehow that is also called milk.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Never understood this

                  Yes, kittens have lactase in their systems, and can digest lactose. However, only in the quantities present in cat's milk. Bovine milk completely overloads their lactose digesting capability. Adding to the problems, the casein-to-whey ratio in cow’s milk is all wrong for baby cats. And besides, by the time you bring a kitten home, the mommy cat should already have weened the cute little thing, and it should be eating adult food.

                  What label is that? The milk in my kitchen came out of my Jersey about half an hour ago. It has not been mistreated in any way, shape or form, thank you very much. (My barn cats get a taste of fresh cow's milk occasionally, as a treat. I'm not a complete asshole, I just play one on TV.)

                  1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
                    Pint

                    All roads lead to diarrhea..

                    Most animals (except humans) have the gene that allows them to process milk sugar turned off after they are weaned. Feeding cow's milk to cats usually results in diarrhea. Some cultures can process it better than others. It's theorized that cultures that had scant other food sources and continued drinking milk after infancy do better than others. Some humans have a damaged copy or perhaps it is turned off too, which accounts for Lactose Intolerance. (and also bloating and diarrhea)

            2. Efer Brick

              Re: Never understood this

              What if its a cat burglar?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                That's what the brood mares are for.

          4. jgarbo

            Re: Never understood this

            Expected. But is he on the net, to call in the ambulance?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never understood this

          We have that - there is an Alexa in the kitchen.

          On my phone, I have Todoist as a widget.

          People can add whatever they want to the shopping list on Alexa and it syncs through.

          No need for smart fridges.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

            When I used to visit people's houses, the first thing I'd say after exchanging pleasantries is "Alexa, buy me a Rolex; Alexa confirm purchase". Big lols!

            1. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

              "When I used to visit people's houses, the first thing I'd say after exchanging pleasantries is "Alexa, buy me a Rolex; Alexa confirm purchase". Big lols!"

              If it worked, which it doesn't, note that _you_ would be the buyer. So you're welcome to try in my home.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @gnasher729 - Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                Do you happen to have your visitors credit card numbers already stored to Amazon ?

              2. Darkly Dreaming Dexter

                Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                I always go with "Alexa, play Slayer Raining Blood"

                1. seven of five Silver badge

                  Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                  useless, that song will be on sooner or later anyway.

                  \m/

              3. martinusher Silver badge

                Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                She's quite likely to say "Hey, you're not Martin......"

                She knows me. It seems a bit creepy but its actualy a useful capability.

            2. jtaylor

              Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

              "When I used to visit people's houses"

              Don't leave us in suspense like that. Why don't they let you visit any more?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                "Why don't they let you visit any more?"

                No shelter in place laws where you live? Must be nice.

              2. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

                Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                They are tired of cancelling orders for Rolex watches?

              3. Maximum Delfango
                Happy

                Re: ...there is an Alexa in the kitchen...

                They're still paying for the Rolexes. Touchy subject.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Never understood this

      The only "smart" in my refrigeration systems are the thought that I put into it. As a result, most of it is handled by True, Delfield & Traulsen. I expect it all to out-live my Granddaughter's kids (should she ever choose to have any, of course).

      Consumer grade appliances are trash, with no longevity and (usually) no repair options[0]. Adding Internet access to it only makes it connected trash. I'd rather spend a lot of money once than a little bit of money many times (and each time losing the contents of my freezer ... ).

      [0] Here in California, it is illegal to replace a part of the consumer grade refrigerant system. You have to remove it and replace it as a complete, sealed unit. That's right ... The compressor, evaporator, condensor, expansion valve, and every other piece that has refrigerant in it can only be replaced as a complete sealed unit. This means that once the compressor dies, it's cheaper to throw it away and buy a new fridge, even though a new compressor can usually be purchased for around a hundred bucks ... How "smart" is your new fridge now, consumer?

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        Consumer grade appliances are trash, with no longevity and (usually) no repair options[0].

        Ahem ... NO That's not my experience at all. Washer, Drier, Refrigerator, Oven, Mixer, Food Processor, Dishwasher. Even the Microwave Oven. All repairable and all have parts available either from the manufacturer or from third parties. I was even able to buy and installed an icemaker in the fridge which my wife for some reason bought without one.

        I would agree that connected digital devices offer manufacturers an opportunity to apply our appallingly low standards of software quality to our household appliances. I personally think that -- like much else in our world -- is a really silly idea.

        It's a refrigerator. It keeps things cold. Why would it need a network connection?

        1. Bullseyed

          Re: Never understood this

          He lives in the fascist state of California, where everything is known to cause cancer and therefore no one has any rights.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Never understood this

            I'll never forget having to explain to my 3 year old (at the time) that, rather than being about Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, the big exciting sign at the entrance to Disneyland actually said "The Disneyland resort contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm..." The happiest place on earth...

            1. Patched Out
              Facepalm

              Re: Never understood this

              I can attest to this. I saw that sign at Disneyland as well and took a picture of it. Even coffee vendors in California have to have a Prop 65 warning sign.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                Anyone know who's been tasked with hanging one of those signs on the sun?

                1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

                  Re: Never understood this

                  Anyone know who's been tasked with hanging one of those signs on the sun?

                  At one time I would have suggested Jerry Brown, but he's of no significance now. These days I'd probably start with Joe Biden (except he'd probably forget what he was doing half-way there).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Never understood this

              You seem more annoyed about the law that they had to put the sign up, rather than the fact that they fell under the laws remit...

              If they didn't have to put the sign up, the poisons woild still be there...

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                Everything is a poison in the wrong context. Relative risk is the important issue.

                1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

                  Re: Never understood this

                  Everything is a poison in the wrong context. Relative risk is the important issue.

                  https://www.dhmo.org

              2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                The state of California is about as competent to evaluate poisons as the town of Glastonbury is to evaluate 5G, and for similar reasons.

            3. Sherrie Ludwig

              Re: Never understood this

              happiest place on earth...

              POST COMMENT well, I see the problem. The happiest place on earth FOR YOU should be your own home, or no place will be happy to you. FTFY. My happiness is not bought by giving huge sums of money to talking cartoon characters.

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            "He lives in the fascist state of California, where everything is known to cause cancer and therefore no one has any rights."

            Coke on, folks! Is California fascist or communist? Make your minds up and stick with it, please.

            1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

              Re: Never understood this

              Neither Commie-Nazi

              As witnessed by McBain when delivering Unicef pennies :P

        2. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Afterthought: There actually would seem to be a use case for an internet connected refrigerator with a temperature gauge and internet alerts if the temperature goes out of range. But most people who would be interested in that probably need a fridge capable of storing 20000 kg of frozen shrimp. And they probably expect the alarm to just work. For about 40 years. And they probably have no desire whatsoever to have the vendor or anyone else "supporting" the software/firmware in the alarm remotely.

          1. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            It would make more sense in that case to have a standard interface of some sort with the fridge (USB? Serial?) that uses standard APIs for a device connected via the interface (or even just a continous feed of a publically available data format) to collect that data. Then that external device does any reporting necessary. e.g. a $30 Raspberry Pi Zero, which can be replaced separately to the $1k+ fridge.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              And that Raspberry Pi Zero is capable of handling at least a dozen fridges and/or other household appliances while also running Pi-Hole.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                RasPi is overkill for a dozen fridges. My main greenhouse runs an AtMega 328, which also monitors the walk-in veg cooler and a few other odds & ends. The other temperature controlled spaces are monitored by another AtMega328. Fun projects. Recommended.

              2. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
                Joke

                Re: Never understood this

                Wouldn't a Raspberry Sub-Zero be better suited for a fridge?

          2. rcxb Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            There actually would seem to be a use case for an internet connected refrigerator with a temperature gauge and internet alerts if the temperature goes out of range.

            I don't see why anyone would want that as PART of their refrigerator, as opposed to a £20 stand-alone universal temperature monitor component that only just happens to be commonly used with refrigerators, but was perhaps designed for a humidor, e.g. ASIN: B07L4QNZVF.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Never understood this

            Hospital IT worker here - we have normal fridges here, the temperature is monitored by a separate sensor linked bu wifi to a central server.

            Not built into the fridge at all!

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              Which makes perfect sense.

              If the sensor goes faulty then you can then replace the sensor, instead of the entire fridge.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Never understood this

                My first Scandinova fridge-freezer was pensioned off after 15 years - when the repairman couldn't fit a replacement fridge thermostat. It was only later that I saw the manufacturer's guide about how to fit an available substitute.

                The replacement Scandinova fridge-freezer is now 23 years old. The fridge thermostat has been replaced twice by myself. Not a difficult job - but you have to be careful not to fracture the refrigerant pipe in gaining access to the probe end. It strikes me that an electronic switch component - rather than a mechanical one - would been a design improvement.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @vtcodger - Re: Never understood this

          Connected digital appliances are a form of extortion. It's your control over those appliances that they are after. The manufacturer is interposing itself between you and your appliance and you end up paying for it to work as before. By doing this, they extract way more money from customers compared to one upfront payment. for the past decades, home appliance manufacturers were confronted with a dilemma: make a bad quality product and nobody will buy again from you, make a good quality product and they will not need to buy another one from you. In both cases, the manufacturer ends up selling one product, with the only difference the bad quality damages reputation. This managed "pay me so you can use your dishwasher" is a brilliant solution.

          I'm not making this up, just read :

          https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/7/18172397/airplay-2-homekit-vizio-tv-bill-baxter-interview-vergecast-ces-2019

          The nugget in the article is: "The greater strategy is I really don’t need to make money off of the TV. I need to cover my cost. And then I need to make money off those TVs." Some of the manufacturers are doing both.

          Down this road you will not be able to draw the curtains of your bedroom without paying monthly for a managed service.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        "Consumer grade appliances are trash, with no longevity and (usually) no repair options'

        Had no problems replacing seals and brushes on my cheap Beko washing machine over 15 years.

        Dishwasher, just needed a pipe removing, clearing out and replacing. 15 minutes

        Fridge, needed a new handle and shelf. No problem.

        Yes you can't replace refrigeration units, but that's often because of the chemicals in them. But as most tend to last 10+ years it's hardly the end of the world. In fact it's probably harder to get a spare than just replace.

        1. Drew Scriver Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          We were given an old clothes dryer* when we were just starting out. It was almost 30 years old at the time - and that was over 20 years ago.

          It has two dials: one for the timer and one for the temperature (high/low). All parts can be fairly easily and inexpensively replaced by anyone who is moderately handy. Over the years I have replaced the belt and a few pulleys.

          It runs just as well now as it did 50 years ago. Sure, it's ugly and it has a few rust spots. But it'll probably last another couple of decades.

          Now that's SMART as well as WISE, in my book.

          By the way, it uses no more electricity than a new dryer.

          *Clothes dryers are common in households in North America.

          1. TheRealRoland

            Re: Never understood this

            We have General Electric appliances in the house. The fridge is now 20 yrs old. Had to repair the blower fan, ice cube maker and reroute the water line to the water dispenser. It became brittle because it's sitting next to the condenser motor (?)

            The GE Oven, i had to repair with a post-it piece of paper. After a while some moisture starts building up between two ribbon connectors. The post-it piece separates the two ribbons, and the oven works again.

            Washer and dryer, both still work.

            The repair guy said 'these things are built like tanks'. And nowadays, things that are metal, are replaced by plastic things. So much shorter lifespan.

            my really shaking-fist-at-clouds moment was when i had to replace the ice cube maker tray. capacity was reduced over the years from 8 cubes to 7 cubes at a time... That seriously impacts my drinking!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Never understood this

            Someone please post the link to "Triggers broom".

            Even the left-pondians must be able to understand that logic ;-)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It runs just as well now as it did 50 years ago...

            ...but all my clothes are completely f**ked...

          4. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            I even remember reading, to my horror, of places where washing lines were banned. Can't you counter that with freedom of expression?

            1. TheRealRoland
              Unhappy

              Re: Never understood this

              If i remember correctly, washing lines are verboten where i live, but one of those collapsible drying rack things is allowed. As long as it's not an eye sore. or some sort rules in Home Owners' Association's Tome of Rules.

          5. Abbas

            Re: Never understood this

            Certainly you are in the USA, such a dryer is a kilowatt-devouring monster. And "modern" (i. e. about 20 years old) humidity control versus time control yields superb results in terms of drying speed and nearly-ironed clothes.

            1. EveryTime

              Re: Never understood this

              "Certainly you are in the USA, such a dryer is a kilowatt-devouring monster. And "modern" (i. e. about 20 years old) humidity control versus time control yields superb results in terms of drying speed and nearly-ironed clothes."

              I've lived in many places where a gas or electric clothes dryer was the only reasonable option. Your situation does not represent the universal experience.

              You are a few decades off for the advent of humidity/dryness sensors. They save power, but not quite as much as most people imagine. The simpler mechanism of increasing the timer speed when the outlet air reaches the target temperature is approximately as effective and less prone to false shut-off.

            2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

              Humidity control..

              My grandfather's dryer was built in 1967 and had a sensor that would shut off the dryer when the clothes were dry instead of cooking them. It probably was temperature-based and not a humidity sensor. I lived in the house for a time after he passed away and can attest that it worked quite well. In 2008 when I sold the house, it was still working just fine. Not sure if the dryer ever had any maintenance except cleaning the lint out and a new belt perhaps. It was sold with the house and is probably still working. In fact, I've never seen a dryer that didn't have this feature, except some coin-op ones in apartment buildings that have a fixed amount of time for the money deposited.

              Without question, things are not built nearly as well as they used to be, with the possible exception of cars.

              1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

                Re: Humidity control..

                Those old timer driers work better than you think. Evaporation cools the air so it's an excellent humidity sensor. When the outgoing air is cool, the heat turns on and timer stops. When it's hot, the heat turns off and the timer advances. That's it and it works. You adjust the dial to accommodate clothes that are very thin or very thick, but wetness is compensated for.

          6. Screwed
            Boffin

            Re: Never understood this

            "By the way, it uses no more electricity than a new dryer."

            Seems very unlikely if the comparison were with a condenser dryer.

            By all means discuss whether a new condenser dryer is worth paying for, or will last long enough, be reliable, etc. But on the electricity usage front, I'd say that claim doesn't stand a chance of being valid.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Never understood this

              It depends... condensing dryers are more expensive to run, but if it's winter, you get the advantage of the hot air not being vented.

              Of course, if it's hot, and you already have aircon on, it's even more expensive having that hot air kept inside!

            2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              Seems very unlikely if the comparison were with a condenser dryer.

              Unlike condenser boilers, condenser dryers don't make use of the heat recovered from the condensing steam. It's just dumped into the outgoing airflow and the effort required to put it there adds about 20% to the running costs.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Never understood this

                Actually many manufacturers are beginning to introduce heat pump based condensers - which do recover the waste heat. One of the interesting things with respect to efficiency is that 'old' tumble dryers are often way over sized for modern washing loads. There is a distinct trend to wash smaller loads more often, and modern washing machines produce clothes about 50% drier than old ones due to higher spin speeds, and clothes are getting lighterand more likely to have quick drying fabrics.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Never understood this

                  Not me. I got a larger capacity washer & tumble drier so I dont have to use them quite as often. Although, I use a air drying rack more often anyway.

          7. DCdave
            WTF?

            Re: Never understood this

            "*Clothes dryers are common in households in North America."

            We wouldn't know what these are, as the rest of the world hasn't electrified yet.

        2. Blazde
          Meh

          Re: Never understood this

          A lot of appliances designed as little as 20-25 years ago - before the peak of globalisation - are way more reliable and repairable than 99% of junk you can get now.

          Just wait til your oft-repaired trusty decades old appliance finally gives up the ghost and you'll be forced to replace it with a sealed hunk of impenetrable and anyway unreplaceable mechanics surrounded by the flimsiest possible envelope of sheet steel (already bent out of shape long before you get it), a dozen or so strategically placed small plastic bits designed to break soon after but never before the warranty expires and which cost £10 plus P&P each if you can even source them, and a small PCB precariously attached to the steel envelope which is 50:50 for dying within the warranty and is the only thing the repair man can actually replace but never has with him.

          1. cd
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Never understood this

            May I commend your attention to the Staber company in Ohio USA. Their washers come with a warranty which essentially is free replacement parts because they are so easy to work on, some households would have the needed tools in a kitchen drawer. Heavy gauge steel, very simple, and top-loading but horizontal drum.

            They sell them to fire departments to wash their gear and also to off-gridders because they run on that level of power and use only 17 gallons of water for an entire cycle.

            A different kind of smart, I think.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              only 17 gallons of water

              That is 64.35 liters, European washers use about 30 liters for an entire cycle.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                Yes, and we have low-water-use washers too. But when I'm washing horse blankets one of those little European washers would probably choke. Can they even do a week's worth of Levis? (I usually manage to get through six or seven pair of jeans in a work week. Sometimes more.)

        3. ovation1357 Bronze badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Sadly whilst this is still broadly true - the likes of eSpares and similar (cheaper) sites plus YouTube tutorials do help aide repair of many appliances, there are an increasing number which either cannot be repaired or have spares priced so high that it's not worth repairing them.

          Also unfortunately, unlike many consumer electronic devices (e.g. I just repaired my dad's Panasonic HD camcorder which is about 10 years old and was able to find the service manual online) the white goods industry seems to be extremely secretive and will not disclose anything useful like a circuit diagram nor any of the details about how to 'program' new replacement PCBs to actually work in a device.

          Two examples from me:

          One was my mother in law's builtin Zanussi dishwasher. It failed out of warranty with a leak that was tripping out the flood switch in the bottom of the chassis. A split plastic pipe was the cause and the replacement was something like £25. But then the main PCB failed a few weeks later: A resistor had burnt itself out of existence but nobody anywhere in the trade, the manufacturer, nor anyone on relevant forums could/would provide any details at all. Eventually I found a company which specialises in white goods PCB repair who'd fix it for half the price of a new board (£60 Vs £120 and the new board has to be programmed using secret codes). Doing this gave the machine another 5 years of life and proved worthwhile even though I couldn't effect a completely DIY fix owing to the closed-source information that I couldn't obtain.

          I've heard reports of some PCBs now being encased in resin which makes it neigh-on impossible to fix.

          The second is my recent experience with washing machines. We inherited a low-end Beko which served us for several years before dying. I didn't attempt to repair it and instead bought a larger capacity Indesit machine off eBay. After only a year the bearings started to fail so I looked into replacing them... Surely only a £20 part plus the labour? Wrong! I discovered that most machines manufactured in recent years now have welded plastic drums which cannot be disassembled to replace the bearings. Short of copying some dude on eBay and cutting the drum open with a saw (then measuring the old bearings to try and find a compatible replacement and attempting to glue+screw it back together) the only option was a whole replacement drum for about £250! I think the machine was only around £300 new!

          I did my research and discovered that even some of the 'better' names like Bosch are now using unrepairable drums... Some awesome person had written to each manufacturer asking about this very thing and posted back the results to a forum I was looking at. Of the ones which actually responded there was only Miele and a brand I'd never heard of (Ebac) which still make their machines fully repairable. Miele was out of my price range but for around the price of a low end Miele this other company Ebac was offering an extra large 9kg machine (20 pounds for my American friends. Standard machines are 7kg/15.5lb) for something like £699 which includes a 7 year parts and labour warranty plus 12 months interest free credit. Given that I found that they also seem to have a reputation of being rock-solid machines I went for that with the confidence that even once the warranty expires I should be able to keep it running for many more years.

          I have to say that my experience with Ebac wasn't perfect but they sorted out the issues I did have and the machine really is a good workhorse. My biggest gripe with them is that their founder is a foaming-at-the-mouth rabid Brexiter who felt it necessary to include a propaganda booklet with the (British-made) machine, adorned with Union flags everywhere (including one wafting out of the open door of a washing machine) and a load of guff about how proud I should be that I've secured my children's and grandchildren's futures by buying British. He's welcome to his views but it was rather unnecessary to print them on a glossy brochure as a big slap in the face to customers who perhaps don't quite share his views.

          So actually there a third point: My parents' dryer. They were given it when I was a kid about 30 years ago. No idea of the brand but it was a clapped out noisy thing which dried the family's clothes until just last year when the motor seized. It must have been at least 40 years old in total. I'm not expecting that length of service from any of my current appliances (although I've literally just retired a Pioneer DVD player which I bought about 25 years ago, which ain't bad for a mid range machine that probably cost under £200)

          Here's hoping that some of the 'right to repair' legislation just might force these firms to rethink their positions.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            I'm all for buying locally and/or securing British jobs; but I make it a point never to go with any seller who includes a Union or any other National Flag on their merchandise or advertising.

            Apart from giving the impression of being Essex spivs * selling dodgy knocked-off goods on the streets of London Town [ no offence to your Brexiter person ] such jelly-bellied flag-waggers trading off a dubious sort of tearful patriotism just aren't the sort of people we wish to meet, nor contribute to.

            .

            .

            * To our American friends, substitute New Jersey for Essex. as usual. **

            ** Though maybe you don't have spivs.

      3. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        I've replaced the fans, thermostats and the relays on several refrigerators, keeping them running for decades longer. Go with solid state (except for the fan of course) and it'll just keep running forever.

        I'm with California on this one... Don't trust consumers to dissect refrigerantion systems, particularly now that highly flammable coolants like propane are popular (due to their higher efficiency and low greenhouse/ozone impact potential).

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          California bans everyone, not just consumers, from repairing consumer-grade refrigeration.

      4. Jakester

        Re: Never understood this

        re: Jake's comment, "Consumer grade appliances are trash..."

        About 60 years ago my mom purchased a GE refrigerator made in about 1935 for use as a second refrigerator to store milk and butter from our one cow on the farm where I grew up. It has been used for various beverages since then and is currently used by one of my brothers in his machine shop to keep cool ones handy. So far, the only repairs are the replacement of the door gasket (improvised with weather stripping) and more recently a new power cord. It is smart enough to keep the brewskies and soda cool in both summer and winter. No software upgrades required.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Kindly note that I'm talking about today's consumer appliances being trash. Yes, the old kit was built to last ... and to be serviced. Today's? Not so much ... to the point where I sometimes purchase an old, non-working unit if it's in good shape physically, because I know I can restore it to working condition cheaper than buying a new, similar unit ... and the old, restored one will almost certainly last many times longer than the new crap. Sometimes I've been known to go out of state for refrigerant, but them's the breaks.

          And yes, I drive pre-1970 vehicles, too, for much the same reasons.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never understood this

        Here in California, it is illegal to replace a part of the consumer grade refrigerant system. You have to remove it and replace it as a complete, sealed unit. That's right ... The compressor, evaporator, condensor, expansion valve, and every other piece that has refrigerant in it can only be replaced as a complete sealed unit.

        There's what comes from living in Kookafornia, The Granola State (fruits, nuts and flakes). Not that I'm much better off here in The Vampire State, New York.

      6. Uncompromiser
        Alert

        Re: Never understood this

        You could try being REALLY smart and move away from the Left Coast. California is bad for you. It messes with your mind by coming up with rules about stuff you didn't even know needed rules.

      7. This Side Up

        Re: Never understood this

        "Consumer grade appliances are trash, with no longevity and (usually) no repair options[0]."

        I bought my Servis washing machine c.1989. It was one of the first to use full microprocessor control instead of a big clunky rotary switch. It had a new mother board under warranty and has been extremely reliable since then. It's only now starting to go up the back end of the bathtub curve. Sadly the company was liquidated in 2011.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never understood this

      Can be used for other things too (probably cant tell you what you have inside).

      Would be used for browsing, or if its not general purpose, connecting you to a database with recipes.

      But would be easier, probably cheaper, better support, better quality software, to just by an iPad or similar and have that on the counter top.

      'Smart' devices in their current form are useless, they are also useless for our current work flows in the world.

      'Smart' devices should connect to your meter, so you can use power (for devices that don't need to run all the time) at the cheapest time (But will cause them to run at night, while you are sleeping, against recommendations). Fridges, would order what you need to your meals for the week after you have set the menu for the week.

      But here is the problem, it doesn't need to be the fridge that does that. but if it was, it would need to monitor everything going in and out of the fridge and how that affects your planed meals.

      So in summary, its all bollocks.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Never understood this

      I have a wine cooler. It has a temperature gauge, a big glass door and can hold 40 bottles of wine, so the only thing "smart" that it has to do is to keep the wine chilled.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        I might consider such - but it would have to be refilled too often.

        1. Flywheel Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Same here - I've been trying to establish a "cellar" for many years now, without success...

          1. batfink Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            I also tried this. I decided that what I wanted was to never drink wine <5 years old. So, I pointed out to SWMBO that all we needed to do was buy twice as much wine for five years. At the end of that period, all of our drinking wine would be a minimum of five years old, and we just needed to replace what we drank at the other end.

            Having secured the necessary financial approval, I bought twice as much wine for five years. Which we drank.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            "I've been trying to establish a "cellar" for many years now, without success..."

            The "secret" is to buy it faster than you drink it. That means you have to balance quality, disposable income, family life and consumption. Clearly you are failing at one or more of those bullet points.

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Good forward planning and a local Majestic manager who is so impressed at the rate of consumption that they deliver next day, even in the current crisis.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            >Majestic manager who is so impressed at the rate of consumption that they deliver next day,

            Has sir considered our new direct pipeline service ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Never understood this

              Isn't that what they did in the Belgian University city Leuven?

              AFAIK, they ran hoses from the local brewery - must have saved them a fortune.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                There's a big German heavy metal festival where they lay a beer pipeline to keep the bars supplied.

              2. Stork Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                At the technical university in Ghent they had their own brewery. Process optimization I think, good stuff at any rate

              3. jmch Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                No, as I remember the brewery premises in town centre were outgrown, so they moved the brewery part out of the city centre and ran a pipe from there to the bottling plant that stayed on the original premises. I'm not completely sure of the details, but the pipeline wasn't 'direct to consumer'

                1. crayon

                  Re: Never understood this

                  "No, as I remember the brewery premises in town centre were outgrown, so they moved the brewery part out of the city centre and ran a pipe from there to the bottling plant that stayed on the original premises."

                  I thought that was a brewery in Brugge not Ghent.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Never understood this

              My local cave (wine shop) in Cannes allows me to bring a 10 litre galvanised jerry can and fill it up with wine from something that looks like a petrol pump. About €20 for a full can and tastes great. Only problem is if someone has used the can for petrol and not told me (which has happened).

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            Better forward planning: Brew your own. Once you've done it a time or ten, brewing 30+ gallons of beer every week or two becomes second nature and seems to take no time at all.

            It helps if you invest in a three-stage system (about $1,000, if you (or a mate) knows how to properly weld stainless steel and you have access to a decent scrap yard. Turnkey systems run around $7,000 new, I've seen the one I've linked to on the used market for $2500, you haul.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Never understood this

              brewing 30+ gallons of beer every week or two "

              FFS!! Even with your undersized gallons, that's a lot more than even I could manage to drink in a week or two. I take my (10 gallon) hat off to you Jake. (I assume you mean brewing real beer, not the usual "sex in a canoe" type of beer)

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Never understood this

                Keep in mind that there are twelve adults living here full-time. I make certain to keep my employees very, very gruntled. Besides, they are friends of mine ... and they all own shares in the holding company.

                Yes, real beer. Mostly I brew all-grain ales, but I do a version of a Mexican beer that my field hands asked me to try to reproduce. They like it, which is all I care about ... it's better than the store-bought version, even if I do say so myself.

                It might surprise you to learn that everybody's favorite "sex in a canoe" whipping boy, Budweiser, comes in at 5% ABV, and even Bud Lite is 4.2% ... Doesn't make either any better than it is, but it's a couple data points for future reference.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never understood this

          I might consider such - but it would have to be refilled too often.

          Be super environmentally friendly then. Just get the barrel, and so cut out the decanting stage.

          Anything else I can help you with?

          :)

    5. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      Re: "........to solve a problem that didn't exist in the first place."

      Indeed. Is it perhaps a case of smart goods needing dumb customers?

      1. Drew Scriver Silver badge

        Re: "........to solve a problem that didn't exist in the first place."

        The secret that the manufacturers won't tell you is that only one gets to be smart: either the customer or the appliance. But not both.

      2. Drew Scriver Silver badge

        The definition of "smart", according to Webster's Dictionary

        1) to be a source of sharp, local, and usually superficial pain, as a wound.

        2) to be the cause of a sharp, stinging pain, as an irritating application, a blow, etc.

        1. TheRealRoland
          Coat

          Re: The definition of "smart", according to Webster's Dictionary

          The definition of "snark", according to TheRegister's Dictionary:

          To use the following definitions to describe 'smart':

          1) to be a source of sharp, local, and usually superficial pain, as a wound.

          2) to be the cause of a sharp, stinging pain, as an irritating application, a blow, etc.

    6. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Never understood this

      The problem that it fixes is that the company mistakenly makes a fridge that works perfectly for 40 years. By attaching it to the internet they can make it obsolete and force you to buy a new one after any period they choose. Even better, they could also refuse to allow the software to be transferred to a new owner should you try to sell the fridge - like Tesla allegedly do with Autopilot - thereby ending the second-hand market too.

      The option to buy unconnected stuff will disappear in a few years time and, unless the law is changed, we'll all be "upgrading" cars and most electrical goods as frequently as we do our phones. Welcome to the world of jailbroken toasters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never understood this

        "Smart" TVs are one example where in principle there's a real reason for connectivity, but in practice it just adds obsolence.

        Apps stop working as video content providers switch to new codecs (e.g. Youtube stopped working on our earlier Samsung smart TV) or the apps become so bloated and so slow they're unusable (looking at you iPlayer)

        Clearly the answer is a disposable Roku or similar, together with as dumb a TV as possible.

        1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

          Re: Never understood this

          Indeed.

          Over past 8+yes have found that second hand (ex corporate) Dell ultrasharp monitor + Thin client + Kodi sorts most obselence problems (and runs to c 100GBP on first and only purchase)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never understood this

        No Tesla don't. There was one case where a software option (FSD) was disabled as the original owner had never paid for it. The issue was, it had already been sold on to another buyer by then after being advertise by a car dealer as having FSD.

        After some clarification it was reinstated. Sure they could do it, any car that goes back to Tesla to sell on can be reconfigured anyway they want. They remove unlimited free supercharging for instance, however they don't anything purchased and sold through the second-hand market. Doesn't stop features being removed or changed via a software update for everyone driving a certain model though, which has happened with autopilot in Europe to abide with the UNECE requirements.

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          Here's something for consideration: A friend bought a car a few years back that came with keyless entry, like almost every car. But no alarm because he didn't pay for that option. He eventually decided to pay for it and a simple firmware flash gave him the functionality.

          Another friend had a car that did not come from the factory with cruise control. It had a plastic cover in the dash where the switch would be for it. He pried off the cover and the wiring was there, just no switch. So he found a salvage yard car that had cruise control, grabbed the switch for a few dollars, and installed it. Presto--he had cruise control. Makes me wonder how much the option was to have that $2 switch installed.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jailbroken?

        What did the little bastard do to need to be bailed out of jail THIS time? Fuck it. Nevermind. Let that little bread porn surfing shit pay for his own lawyer!

      4. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        I wish that whoever owns the IP for Sunbeam would bring back the Radiant Control toaster; paying over $100 USD plus shipping on ebay for used ones that either need repair or are parts corpses is a little on the nose. (there's zero microcontrollers in the thing- it's all clever application of levers, spring tension, and thermodynamics...)

        On the same side of that piece of toast, why is it so difficult for companies to make a toaster that Just Works? I run into units that either burn the toast on the light setting, or give me a piece of stale, dry brad on the 'turn it into charcoal' setting.

        1. mark l 2 Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          There are a couple of videos on the Technology connections youtube channel for those Sunbeam toasters that are worth watching. I hadn't heard of them before i saw the videos recently and was interested in seeing if I could get one myself. But then I saw the prices on ebay and decided it wasn't worth the cost.

          I suspect judging how long Sunbeam had been making the toasters the patents are now expired, so surely some China company can knock them out at $30 a pop brand new these day?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never understood this

          Poor Brad. Cant find Janet either

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: solve a problem that didn't exist in the first place

      ah, this reminds me of an old joke we shared in the good old commie days: communism is a system that bravely fights off problems unknown in other systems...

    8. Maximum Delfango
      IT Angle

      Re: Never understood this

      It's for the millennials; if there isn't an app 'for that', they're baffled, bless their little (usually bearded) faces.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        It's for the millennials; if there isn't an app 'for that', they're baffled, bless their little (usually bearded) faces.

        Get you Grandad!

        If its for millennial's they'll not want an app - they'll expect their fridge to follow them on Twitter/Insta such that they can "influence" it.

        1. Maximum Delfango

          Re: Never understood this

          D'oh! Busted!

        2. Barry Rueger

          Re: Never understood this

          Geez, I'm 64 but even I know that influencers live on Instagram, not Twitter.

          Thank God.

    9. Stuart 22
      Trollface

      Re: Never understood this

      You - and maybe the manufacturers - might not have noticed that the people who don't want this dodgy IoT stuff usually come from IT. There lies a clue for the clueless.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        Oh, I don't know... I mean, our fridge that I inherited from the ex-wife is totally on the fritz by way of some form of broken wire that connects the door mounted display to the gubbins in the main body. Thus if the alarm goes off, it whistles like a bastard for an hour and there's no display to say why or button to shut it up. I have to couple up the right hanging door wire, re-liven the door panel controls, and kill the buzzer. Same for setting and verifying the temperature.

        Now, if they had a simple API available to access all the sensors and set the various parameters, I'd have been chuffed. Don't mind writing my own little web interface for that - I've got ones for the smart speaker that only came with a phone app, and one for the doorbell that likewise only had a phone app. Now both can be accessed from a web browser as well.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Never understood this

          our fridge that I inherited from the ex-wife is totally on the fritz by way of some form of broken wire that connects the door mounted display to the gubbins in the main body. Thus if the alarm goes off, it whistles like a bastard for an hour and there's no display to say why or button to shut it up. I have to couple up the right hanging door wire, re-liven the door panel controls, and kill the buzzer.

          Cut the wires to the buzzer, or melt a hole through it with a soldering iron?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Never understood this

            If one was to dismantle the fridge to the point of being able to get to this component, wherever it is, one might as well repair the wiring!

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        > people who don't want this dodgy IoT stuff usually come from IT.

        Along the lines of "the people most vehemently against e-voting are security researchers"

    10. TheRealRoland
      Happy

      Re: Never understood this

      Okay, boomer! ;-)

      Yeah, no. these things are ridiculous, and whoever thought they'd be getting lifetime support, wake up, please.

    11. Bullseyed

      Re: Never understood this

      You've never wondered if the laundry was done, listened, it sounded quiet so you figure it is done, then went to the wash room and found it was still running?

      And how are you going to open the fridge to check how much milk you have while at the grocery store?

      Hopefully you don't own a smartphone, or any other device that solves non-existent problems.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        "You've never wondered if the laundry was done, listened, it sounded quiet so you figure it is done, then went to the wash room and found it was still running?" No - I know how long a cycle runs. Don't you?

        "And how are you going to open the fridge to check how much milk you have while at the grocery store?" I'm not - I know exactly how much milk is In the fridge, either because I keep a running tally in my head*, or I check before going to the shop. Planning - you must have heard of it.

        *Rapidly maturing children may alter this, of course, though not to the extent of needing a spy-fridge.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Never understood this

        "And how are you going to open the fridge to check how much milk you have while at the grocery store?"

        It still won't prevent you from buying 20 other items at the store and forgetting the one you explicitly went there for..

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never understood this

      They should be renamed as unSmart fridges.

    13. rcxb Silver badge

      Better smart devices

      It always seems strange that the devices which DON'T benefit from more monitoring are the ones most likely to get the "smart" treatment, while the devices that would greatly benefit, never do.

      Why can't I find a "smart" animal trap? It would really help to know immediately when it has been tripped and whether or not something is inside. You can manually mount a battery-powered WiFi camera to it, and wire up a sensor to the door, but it's so strange nobody provides such a thing.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Better smart devices

        "Why can't I find a "smart" animal trap?"

        Between me, the dawgs & the cats I have several to choose from.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Better smart devices

        Actually, I got one. It electrocutes rats and mice. Apparently it knows when that has happened by measuring the HV charge bank or something, and flashes an LED and sounds a beeper to let you know there's a corpse to remove.

        Since I installed it, it's never gone off once or caught a thing!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Better smart devices

          Get a cat. Or encourage a local feral with the odd midnight snack. Don't over-feed either, or they will be too fat & lazy to hunt!

          Failing that, here's a better mousetrap. (Warning to the squeemish: the video shows it in action. No blood, but plenty of killed mice. Might be NSFW in some jurisdictions.) Not much has changed in the world of mouse technology in the last 430 years, so why does everybody think that the technology to catch them might have changed?

          A friend built a 12-hole version of this trap following the Tubbs fire a couple years ago. He lives right on the edge of the burn zone, and the critters inundated him because he had food and water that they could pilfer. He wasn't intending to feed the rodents, mind, it's just a hazard of keeping livestock. The mice were so bad, his cats couldn't keep up ...

          Long and short of it, he trapped 10 on the first night. And a dozen the second night. And the third night. So he and I built 5 more. He trapped upwards of 40 mice per night for a couple weeks (largest nightly total was 66) before they suddenly moved on ... or fell to numbers that didn't overwhelm his barn cats.

          This is a pretty useful trap, all in all. It's also fairly safe, in that kids, cats, dawgs etc. can't easily hurt themselves with it. We used smooth peanut butter for bait. A syringe with a wide opening makes it easy to deposit the bait in the bottom of the hole, your local Vet or feed store can probably help you acquire one that'll work. (Note the smooth peanut butter ... the chunky stuff clogs the syringe.)

          I have half a dozen three-hole versions scattered around the place. I catch maybe two critters per month, so I guess that the cats are keeping up their end of the bargain here at Chez jake.

    14. tcmonkey

      Re: Never understood this

      I can see the appeal. There have been a few times when I wouldn't have minded being able to put the recipe I am following up on a large display in a convenient spot, or would have liked to have been able to continue watching something other than a pot (which will subsequently never boil, of course).

      In the end though, both of those are essentially just "I want a fridge with a monitor". I can just build that, and then use a regular PC/thin client so that I'm not at risk of being stuffed over by unsupported Android trash. I do the same thing for the TVs.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        "I want a fridge with a monitor"

        Easy peasy. Grab a hopelessly outmeded (and Cheap!) 180-1818 inch android tablet (I tend to use those Samsung TabA jobbies - they also have the advantage of a stylus for shopping lists, sweet nothing notes and such), slap it on the door or side of your common or garden dumb fridge - the magnetic back holds it quite firmly - and throw your recipe up on the browser.

        Ours is usually employed for watching Thunderf00t and Logicked videos while making coffee, but different strokes and all that.

    15. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Never understood this

      Exactly. But we replaced our dishwasher last year and finding a quality device that wasn't "smart" was a problem. Most of the Siemens line were "smart", they could order new tabs themselves and you could call up the status at any time... Why?

      In the end, we got a "dumb" Miele, which will hopefully be working long after the Siemens devices tells its own do bog off, because it can't phone home.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Never understood this

        I've got an annoyingly smart Hoover washer. Washed a rug the other day and it went nuts beeping and flashing a phone number and error code on the display... "Service required... phone 0800 xxxxxx... Fault code F05. Quote serial number WSLxxxxxxxx..."

        It was a rug with tassels, and I noticed a lot of fluffy debris in the excess water in the drum. The pump was probably blocked by the fluff.

        Why not just say "Clean button trap and drain pump chamber."? Took about half an hour to do and that was mostly draining the drum. Didn't need to call the service number at all! And why make me look up a code for a user performable maintenance task?

    16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      WTF?

      Not even as long as the smart meters they will be drawing power from.

      CEO of one (US) supplier admitted about 7 years (rather than the nominal 20) of

      Wonder what that does to the already BS economics (We'll save you £17/year but cost you £400 more on a 20year life expectancy) of UK smart meters?

  2. katrinab Silver badge
    Unhappy

    If you really must have Twitter on your fridge door, an iPad mount for your fridge can be had for about £15, and an iPad will cost £350 for the cheapest model. Less than half the extra cost to get a smart fridge, and it will work a lot better.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale

      (And you could spend even less if you bought a non-fruity tablet.)

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Or a fruity non-tablet, e..g Raspberry Pi, Banana Pi or Orange Pi.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, this need legislation

    A device must be supported for it's service life - and that's not how long the manufacturer says it will last - for example, my non-smart fridge-freezer is something like 20 years old.

    I guess and easy way to define how long support is needed would be to say it must not end whilst any devices are hitting the update server to check for updates.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Yep, this need legislation

      Absolutely agree. If you want to sell me a smart fridge, you had better have in writing that you're going to support all of its functionalities until the fridge dies.

      If I don't have that guarantee in writing, I'm not buying.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Yep, this need legislation

        you had better have in writing that you're going to support all of its functionalities until the fridge dies.

        Certainly sir. The fridge is engineered to die 1 day after the warranty expires, so we will have no problem supporting its full functionality until then.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Yep, this need legislation

        I can, of course, offer you that guarantee and wind up the company next day.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Yep, this need legislation

      If the law were changed to force companies to support kit for 20 years then the white goods manufacturers would just become like builders and go out of business every few years only to reappear with a different name the next day. The law could deal with this (mandatory bonds, insurance, etc.) but given that current law can't even persuade Whirlpool to recall and repair tumble dryers that burn houses down, I don't hold out any hope.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yep, this need legislation

        Love to see Samsung go out of business every couple of years...

        1. Maximum Delfango

          Re: Yep, this need legislation

          Just once would be fine.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Yep, this need legislation

            Only if it were permanently.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Yep, this need legislation

          >Love to see Samsung go out of business every couple of years...

          But you didn't buy from Samsung, you bought from Samsung UK 2020 (holdings) Inc (Grand Cayman)

      2. NorthIowan

        Re: recall and repair tumble dryers that burn houses down

        Time to do my civic duty. Do send in all the warranty cards on appliances.

        First sorry to all the Whirlpool dryer owners

        I apparently didn't send one in for my old dehumidifier in my damp basement. Well the cooling coil was getting matted up with dust so I was looking online to see if there was a "how to video" on opening it up for cleaning that would be simpler that what it looked like to me. When I googled the model number I saw that there was a recall on mine. Seems that a fair number of them caught on fire. Maybe not always burning the house down, but it sometimes did.

        The manufacturer had a good recall. Send in the model sticker with the cut off power plug. Get pretty much all your money back. No receipt needed.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Yep, this need legislation

      "my non-smart fridge-freezer is something like 20 years old."

      yeah, same here - I bought a few "dumb" appliances back in the mid 90's, at a well known discount appliance store, and they have lasted through now, with no signs of not working for another 20 years...

      [but when recycling electronics devices every 5 years involves a fork lift... "gone too far" is an understatement]

  4. Jay 2

    Just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should

    The title says it all.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    All part of the planned obsolesence

    the makers want. The less time you own a bit of kit that works, the sooner you need to go out and buy another 'improved' model with probably less support time than the old one. Samsung is well known for not updating its phones after a year or two so it isn't unreasonable to expect them to do the same for their white goods.

    I won't be buying any of this 'limited use tat' for my home. As for connecting the tat up to the internet? forget it sunshine. It ain't gonna happen.

    'Smart' anything is rapidly becoming a word that describes anything but smart. Rip-off more like.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

      As someone who has a Galaxy S9, I can report that the phone continues to receive Android and security updates...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

        But how cold does your S9 keep your beer?

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

          Hmmm. A beer cooled phone. It reminds me of a meeting I was at. We all had those Nokia 6150s (lovely). One of my colleagues was highly amused at the vibrate function and announced that it was even better when contained in a glass. T our delight he set it to vibrate, asked someone to call it and dripped into the glass in front of him. It was full of water.

          How we laughed.

      2. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

        ... and the Note 8 (from 2015) received two years worth of updates for it, and while it was possible to jailboreak it, root it, and install Lineage on the poor thing, I lost the functionality that made it a neat product (the drivers for the pen) and, strangely enough, audio. And to add injury to insult, Lineage ran like a dog on the thing, too.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

      @Steve: you might not have a choice when you buy your next appliance. Why would you sell one fridge in 25 years (that's how old mine is) when you can sell one every 5 years by forcing them to become obsolete? The market is ready for it because people already do it with phones. In a few years you'll buy a new fridge and it won't work until you've connected it to the web, logged in to the app and accepted the EULA which includes daily emails from Tesco and Asda reminding you that the milk is nearly out of date as read by the RFID tags printed on the packaging and if you don't click here by 2 minutes ago then four pints is on its way. Stuff that doesn't have RFID tags will have to have its details entered manually with associated "unidentified product in the door shelf area" announcement and you won't be able to close the door until you enter the data.

      Christ - after re-reading that it makes me nostalgic for the 80s when all we had to look forward to was nuclear war and living like "Survivors".

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

        Try living over here on the left-pond.

        "Threads" is starting to look like a feel-good movie

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: All part of the planned obsolesence

        Everyone's chasing their tails about Chinese this and that but my experience with their appliances is that they tend to exploit the marketing weakness caused by chasing the margins of which built in obsolescence is just a facet. Everyone wants to sell high end / high margin products so the focus on them leaving a hole in the market. The high end products tend to be not that much better than the cheaper ones simply because there just isn't that much you can do to a domestic appliance to make it significantly better (hence the gimmicks like displays). So as consumers get used to buying cheap stuff with funny names -- word spreads that it works OK and so on -- the high end crew keep trying to push the margins to make up for loss of volume. Eventually their market just implodes and they end up abandoning it and blaming the Chinese for unfair competition.

        (Except its not just the Chinese. We used to find early versions of Japanese cars and motorcycles a bit weird, they came with strange names and Jinglish manuals. We laugh. Then one day we find that we don't have a motorcycle industry any more and our car production's declining pecipitously. Then there's the electronics saga. You'd think people would learn, but apparently not.)

  6. Pangasinan Philippines

    Win 7 anyone?

    My Sony Blue ray player is acting dumb.

    No Youtube or Netflix for me.

    At least I can play discs.

    1. xeroks

      Re: Win 7 anyone?

      to be fair the sony "smart" TVs and blu-ray players were so unresponsive it was unbelievable.

      I have a feeling they only talked to sony servers, which acted as a very slow intermediary for iPlayer etc.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Win 7 anyone?

      Wrong Sony Blu Ray player, even my very old one is supported.

      Look for models starting in PS and ending in 3 or 4.

      For standalone players I prefer Pioneer.

  7. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Smart appliances are essentially computers

    Even the dumb ones have computer traits that limit not only the lifetime of the appliances, but potentially also their owners.

    You really don't want to be turning these things on unattended.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    It's not called Internet Of Twats for nothing.

    My refrigerator was 36 years old when I replaced it, and I did that only because all the door shelves were gone. In 1982 the PC had just been introduced. I think the only protocol that's survived that long is TCP/IP itself and the early stuff like FTP & Telnet. HTTP wasn't around for another 7 years.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "My refrigerator was 36 years old when I replaced it"

      If you replaced it with a consumer-grade one, I'll bet you a beer that the new one doesn't even last 8 years. And even if the guarantee says ten years, there will be some excuse in the fine print that'll make it your fault that it died early, so no replacement or repair.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Fridges have not been bad, in seven rental houses and our own home I think we have had two replacements and one repair the last ten years.

      Smart TVs are bothering me at the moment, we have 3 or 4 LGs that keep the satellite programming but looses the terrestrial programming when you put it on standby.

      And the law insists we have Portuguese TV, and we are getting guests who are likely to Cara.

  9. Mr Dogshit
    Happy

    Fridges are cool!

    Ha! I see what you did there!

  10. Pete 2

    Smart freezer - code frozen!

    > promised to issue software updates for a full decade after the release of a device

    But what other services do they rely on?

    If there is third-party stuff, then they are just as much a part of the product as what the vendor promises hopes to support. But if they close down, raise their prices, get bought, go bust, are hacked / pwned / blacklisted, rely on other (fourth party?) stuff or generally can't be arsed to keep their code working properly then your premium fridge is just as functional as a bargain basement version.

    This is exactly the same as for every other "smart" device: TV, vacuum cleaner, cat feeder, doorbell and probably electric car, too. While they all might have the intention to deliver on their marketing promises, experience tells us that in the end: they don't. Whether it is a phone that stops getting updates or security patches after a few months, or a car that gets "premium" features locked out when sold second-hand. It turns out that all vendors of "smart" kit are insincere shysters.

    We all know about buiilt-in obsolescence. But the new obsolescence comes in the form of an OTA update - or lack thereof.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Smart freezer - code frozen!

      "then your premium fridge is just as functional as a bargain basement version"

      If you're lucky. If not it just gets bricked.

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Solutions for problems that don't exist

    What is it exactly that kitchen equipment with 'smart' is supposed to solve?

    Fridge says no. If you insist on overriding Fridge, Fridge will be forced to talk to your health insurance. If Insurance says no...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fridge says no.

      Did you buy it second-hand from an early Sam&Fuzzy strip?

  12. Jonathan Richards 1

    Mammoths!

    > you won't be party to any mammoth DDoS attacks

    I knew the Siberian permafrost was melting, but I didn't know that Fancy Bear had recruited the mammoths. Keep dem mammoths frozens!!1!

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Mammoths!

      Big fridge required.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    My fridge freezer

    is over 20 years old (22 guessing) and works fine.

    Even treated it to a new door handle last year as my repair finally broke after a decade (daughter broke handle off, I glued it back on).

    I wonder if it will managed 1/4 century?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: My fridge freezer

      Much the same thing here. I date them from the house we were in when we bouht them, ot years. The current freezer was bought while we were in our previous house so some time between '91 & '01. The previous was 2 houses further back so probably early 80s. I can't even remember when we bought the fridge but the door seal is starting to go - trouble is, I replaced the light bulb in it a few years ago and I'd hate to dispose of the fridge with some life left in the new one...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: My fridge freezer

        Our was previous house, got 20 year olds not born there but were a very large bump.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: My fridge freezer

          That's another way of working it out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My fridge freezer

      Mines about 11 years and still going well.

      Dishwasher went a few years back and had equally been in the house for that long.

    3. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: My fridge freezer

      Ah, yes, plastic door handles on white goods. They are rubbish. Mrs Tessier-Ashpool has wrecked the handles on our fridge, tumble dryer and the drawers in our freezer. OK, she is notoriously clumsy, but that’s not much of an excuse. It’s all a cunning plan to sell more stuff.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: My fridge freezer

        She probably says the same thing about you.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: My fridge freezer

        Handle broke but managed to get an identical one new, 20 years or more on.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    do tasks that would otherwise be performed on a smartphone or computer

    i.e. download a manual, search for: how do I open fridge door (issue: fridge powers down / subscription expired / brains not found)

  15. gcarter

    Gilfoyle Hacks Jian Yang's Smart Fridge

    https://youtu.be/A48AJ_5nWsc

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Gilfoyle Hacks Jian Yang's Smart Fridge

      All it needs to do is keep my fucking beer cold!

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Gilfoyle Hacks Jian Yang's Smart Fridge

        All it needs to do is keep my fucking beer cold!

        There is an advantage in a fridge that suddenly goes on the fritz all of a sudden. It's a perfect excuse to drink all the beer, all at once. Can't let the stuff warm up afterall.

        On the same theme, clearly a smart fridge needs to be able to hold a lot of beer. There's no point in such an opportunity arising if all that's in the fridge at the time is a forgotten can of Fosters and 2 bottles of Corona.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Gilfoyle Hacks Jian Yang's Smart Fridge

          "a forgotten can of Fosters and 2 bottles of Corona."

          I thought we were talking about beer ...

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Facepalm

    If you're looking for the dumb component...

    ... they have their hand on the 'fridge door handle.

  17. alain williams Silver badge

    There are 2 dates on these things

    1) the date when it will no longer receive s/ware updates to protect it from the latest drive by attack

    2) the date when the servers that it speaks to are switched off

    Neither of these is explained in the point-of-sale blurb.

    If you ask you might be told of a 'lifetime' - which likely started a year or two ago when the model was released - so what you have left can be quite short.

    Quite apart from me not being able to understand *why* I would want something that costs more and blabs personal information to the manufacturer; I would never buy something where (2) those servers were not mine - prolly some R-pi in my house.

    Thankfully there will always be a market for cheaper non IoT stuff that will be wanted by those who are not rich enough to be stupid enough to buy these nasties.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: There are 2 dates on these things

      > there will always be a market for cheaper non IoT stuff

      You wish. You can't force people to buy trash if you don't remove the sane, cheaper alternatives first. It will be the "smart" way or the highway.

      For the manufacturers it's pure benefit: For just the price of a cheap IoT module sourced from China, they'll get to double their sales by controlling the replacement time, and collect valuable consumer data. Win-win. As for the consumer, he might be able to impress the Joneses for a short while (remember when mobile phones were rare?), but very quickly those unneeded smart functions will become the 21th century's "VCR blinks 00:00".

    2. Wilseus

      Re: There are 2 dates on these things

      "There will always be a market for cheaper non IoT stuff"

      Want to bet? You try and find a "dumb" TV anywhere. There's no such thing.

  18. Sleep deprived
    Happy

    Our fridge turned 30 last month

    A non-smart consumer grade Whirlpool. Purchased by a smart couple in 1990. Only needed update was a new coat of appliances paint "downloaded" from the local hardware store last year

  19. Adam Foxton

    The problem is definitions

    If the 'smarts' are held in the Cloud, the device on it's own shouldnt be considered 'smart'.

    Interfaces should be documented, 'intelligence' should be built into smart devices.

    They may connect to Cloud services (securely, privately) to provide a richer experience. But the core functionality that makes them 'smart' should be accessible with no internet.

  20. The Central Scrutinizer

    A solution looking for a problem

    All these "smart" devices are basically shit, from everything I've read about them. Look at the recent Sonos speaker debacle. They wanted to intentionally brick them, just because. You don't own them. Who wants to rent their fridge from some clown, ffs.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: A solution looking for a problem

      "All these "smart" devices are basically shit"

      Maybe not the words I'd use. But I agree with the sentiment. The only "modern" device that we have added in 30 years that works noticably better than the mid-twentieth century stuff it replaced is a covey of Panasonic cordless phones that have replaced the dumb phone extensions. And even there, we don't use many of the capabilities of the new phones because they require entering keypad codes that nobody around here can be bothered to remember.

      BTW. We networked the house decades ago (with 10-base2 originally. THAT long ago). I put a PC in the kitchen. It had hundreds of our favorite recipes. It did internet streaming. It could keep shopping lists. We were connected!!!

      No one used it but me. And I didn't use it often. And mostly what I used it for was playing music. Occasionally we used it to Google something that came up in discussions in the adjacent living room. That's about it. When we rebuilt the kitchen four or five years ago, we didn't allocate space for a computer. Recipes are in a notebook. Shopping lists are on 3x5 cards in a holder attached to the fridge with magnets. If anyone wants music in the kitchen, they find a laptop and bring it in.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: A solution looking for a problem

        If anyone wants music in the kitchen, they find a laptop and bring it in.

        I have a lot of music in my kitchen - I use something that you might have heard of: a 'radio'.

        It works really well; super modern - it is a DAB radio. Tuned to either: Classic FM, BBC Radio 4 or Radio 3.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: A solution looking for a problem

          A laptop? So that I want all my music not just 300hz upwards. Got some sound unit for the missus a couple of xmasses ago the you can BT to and have probably heard all the music from the 80's 10 times over from the living room. No DAB radio thank fuck - if I want the sound of gurgling water in the kitchen I'd do the washing up.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: A solution looking for a problem

          "super modern - it is a DAB radio"

          Make your mind up.

          Plain old FM here.

      2. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: A solution looking for a problem

        For music in my kitchen, we bring in either a tablet or phone and play it there if we care enough about it, or possibly one of the bluetooth speakers we have lying around.

        I have a binder labeled 'recipe file' that has a bunch of printouts in it- it sits next to a couple cheap cookbooks we bought. I go the extra mile and use the 'almost out of" shopping list pads made by Knock-Knock, because I like whimsical things.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: A solution looking for a problem

        I had an aging (1985) Wyse 30 hard-wired to a serial port on the server that archives my recipe database (amongst other stuff; bash, Lynx, email, Usenet, etc.). It was mounted into a cupboard in my kitchen ... It was functional, but we almost never used it. We reclaimed the space for dry goods in early 2009 ... When we are cooking we are cooking, not playing with a computer. I can't remember the last time I looked at a recipe.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chill out

    In the UK you have a 6 year warranty in law (5 years if in Scotland, for some reason) so I'm surprised we're not reading of these suppliers who cut off support being taken to court. If software needs patching or updates to remain fit for purpose, then it probably wasn't fit for purpose when it was bought. The insectorial

    embrocation contamination is that the responsibility lies with the retailer who sold the item, not the OEM. If I'd have bought any IoT stuff whose use was cut off within 5 years I'd be expecting a full refund from Amazon, etc. Not that I've bough any IoT gubbins - like others, it's easier to open the fridge to see what's inside than log onto my PC.

    Our fridge freezer was replaced last month - the warning light for the freezer part had come on and, even turning the temp control to maximum it stayed on. Defrosted it (well, the Missus did that) and the coils didn't cool after switching back on. We have a second freezer so no food lost (luckily, we'd been working through frozen supplies during lockdown, so sufficient space). It was 16 years old (nowhere near 30 but still respectable for a common brand) so I decided it wasn't worth troubleshooting a repair. Ordered replacement from the same dealer, who delivered and unpacked it (maintaining appropriate social distancing) and took the old one away. Reckoned the new one won't last as long, though - not made to the same standard!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chill out

      The '6 years' thing isn't quite as clear cut as that. It would need to be a fault that would be present when it was manufactured and can be proven, you'll also lose money for amount of use. You'd then need to take it to small claims and fight it there.

      However AFAIK software being unsupported has never been tested in court as the wording is not conducive to a warranty claim. It would be interesting to create a precedent for it.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Chill out

        Also not clear it applies to "extra" services.

        As long as the fridge defaulted to "stay cold" when the whizzy smart features you paid an extra grand for turn off - they could have a claim that it was functional.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Chill out

      I think you will find that 6 year warranty will actually expire on 31/12/2020.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Chill out

      You don't have six / five year warranty. That time is for the statute of limitations, that is after that time the seller or manufacturer can ignore you.

      Before that, the device must work _for a reasonable amount of time_. What a reasonable amount of time is depends on the device. For example, laptops typically two years. I have a cast iron boot scraper in my garden, I'd say a reasonable time is 20 years or more for that.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Chill out

        My mid 2010 MacBook Pro is getting on for 10 years old now and still works. I’ve replaced the hard drive with an SSD, and I’ve replaced the battery three times.

        Dabbsy’s review of a slightly later model - https://www.theregister.com/2011/11/24/review_apple_macbook_pro_13in_core_i5_laptop?page=1

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Chill out

          This zv5105 HP laptop is about 17 years old. I have upped the RAM from 256 Megs to 2 Gigs, replaced the HDD once, and the battery three times. The battery no longer functions, but the computer still works quite nicely plugged into the mains. It runs Slackware-current, as it has since the year dot.

  22. DrXym Silver badge

    Nothing smart about "smart" white goods

    They cost more, they're pain in the butt to use, they go bitrotten and they don't offer a single feature that even remotely justifies their existence.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nothing smart about "smart" white goods

      The perfect consumer product - go capitalism

  23. chivo243 Silver badge

    No appliance in my house

    Should be smarter than I am... nor should it be able to access the intertubes.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: No appliance in my house

      ^ There's a crass joke about the wife there, waiting to be made.

  24. NerryTutkins

    Bimby

    My mrs has just bought a Bimby. It's basically a cooking pot, food processor and scale combined. It has a little screen where you can search for recipes, then it tells you what to do step by step, it weights the ingredients as you add to the main pot and sets the timer and temperature for each step then tells you what to do next. I doubted we needed such a thing, as we're quite capable of cooking the old fashioned way. But she insisted.

    So far, it's made awful overcooked but liquidized scrambled eggs, undercooked rice, and soup that we could have easily done in a pan on the hob, and then liquidized with the handheld thing we have.

    I know at some point it's going to have problems connecting to the internet or the recipes it relies on will all disappear, but more than anything, I don't think it's saved us any time, or cooked anything we could not have easily done the old fashioned way without finding any recipe.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Bimby

      Maybe it is rubbish - but she can brag to her mates who will then try to keep up with the Tutkins'!

  25. wolfetone

    "In the absence of legally binding rules to ensure smart appliances remain supported..."

    I beg to differ.

    A fool and their money are easily parted. So if they think they're that important that they need to spend £1,000 on a box to keep food cold while tweeting about their own vacuous life, then they fully deserve to have the thing bricked after 2 or 3 years.

    This doesn't need anything legally binding to keep the manufacturers from bricking the fridges. It needs common sense on the side of the consumer, and there's no legislation for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You have to think of some of things in life as a tax on the rich and/or gullible. But even if you can afford the $, who wants to go thru the hassle of buying (and installing) a new major appliance every couple of years?>

  26. Alan J. Wylie

    Scott Helme on expiring TLS root certificates

    A timely article:

    https://scotthelme.co.uk/impending-doom-root-ca-expiring-legacy-clients/

    HTTPS is a bit more than 25 years old. A lot of early root certificates were issued with a 25 year lifespan, and are about to, or have already (Addtrust) expired. Without updates, the web will break.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Scott Helme on expiring TLS root certificates

      If anyone runs a company and hasn't got that nailed down in their ERP system so that the person responsible for not renewing it is fired on the spot should it not be renewed they wont be forced to fire them - they're not likely to last that long.

      1. Alan J. Wylie

        Re: Scott Helme on expiring TLS root certificates

        It's not the renewing of server certificates that's the problem, nor even intermediate certs. It's the trusted root certificates that are embedded into operating systems and browsers. If those aren't updated on the client then the breakage happens.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Scott Helme on expiring TLS root certificates

        "the person responsible for not renewing it etc"

        The only people who might have known what to do to renews might have long gone.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Scott Helme on expiring TLS root certificates

      And the trusted root store issues are typically resolved with.... a patch update. Which leads us right back around to the Internet of Shite devices which don't get patched, or get obsoleted after a frighteningly short life span.... Tablets included. (same with Smart TVs, which are in the same class as IoT devices.

      Ask anyone that used windows 2000 and windows XP about the "root certificate update" patches... This is not a new issue, or even a 'end of the internet as we known it' issue.

  27. 9Rune5 Silver badge

    Full source code

    OEMs should be required to post full source code at least six months before closing a service or shutting down security updates.

    I for one would not mind a fridge that keeps track of the stuff I add to it, so that when I go to the groceries it could prompt me "perhaps this is a good time to buy more bacon?". To which the answer is of course "yes, it is always a good time to buy bacon", but replace "bacon" with a less popular food item and you'll get my drift.

    But I doubt I'd like to pay extra for it. :P

    1. xeroks

      Re: Full source code

      also the device should easily allow the user to change the "home" url to allow them to swtich to a 3rd party supplier.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Full source code

        Not necessarily, you can easily intercept that "home" url in your Pi-Hole and supply the IP address of whatever supplier you wish, preferably the one running on your own server in the basement.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Full source code

      > be required to post full source code

      Assuming they a) have the source code, and b) can legally open source it... AFAIK most will just buy off-the-shelf Asian IoT modules they just get customized a little (brand logo and colors).

      The same code is used with minor cosmetic modifications by dozens of other companies fr their own products, and the online software bazaar they all bought this from is probably gone a couple years later, so there is no way they can legally open source that code, even if they had it.

  28. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    No, don't check how long it will be supported!

    Just buy a dumb fridge.

    Which? missing the point.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

      Until you can no longer buy a dumb fridge.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

        If it gets to the stage where you cant buy a dumb fridge I think you'd be past the point of caring.

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

        Until you can no longer buy a dumb fridge.

        That's the problem. Here in the US, it appears to be impossible to buy a dumb TV nowadays. Instead, every TV at Best Buy, et. al. has a bewildering array of mostly confusing and totally unstandardized options that even computer literate folks have difficulty negotiating. The misbegotten things take forever to turn on, require three or four actions to get a picture. And God help you if you push the wrong button.

        Picture quality is great. The rest of the user experience makes one long for the 1970s. (And, yes, we had wireless remote channel selection and volume control in the 1970s).

        There are reasons for all that. But as far as I can see, they have little to do with what users would actually prefer.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

            The problem is that in the consumer realm, a 4K capable TV with basic HDMI and a digital tuner doesn't really exist- I know, I've looked. I ended up settling on a RokuTV made by TCL, which made sense because we already had a Roku on the projector it replaced. (turns out that 4K projectors are still buttock clenchingly expensive)

            Now, if we move into the commercial and entertainment sectors, Yes. You can certainly buy an 85" diagonally measured 4K display from NEC that has any combination of inputs you want- HDMI, Displayport, etc. You can even get them with a digital tuner if you want. What most people don't want is the $21,000+ USD cost; however, these things are designed and rated for 100% duty cycle over their rated lifespan of 3-5 years, IIRC. (i.e., mount them, connect cables, turn on, and three- five years later turn it off and replace it because the display quality has degraded)

            My employer chews through these displays at an impressive rate.

        2. Adelio

          Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

          Strange thing is that I bought a new TV a couple of years ago (Sony) and looked at all the smart stuff.

          Now I find I NEVER use any of the smarts in the TV. I have a sky box and an amazon fire stick.

          I can access all my own media from my NAS from the Amazon Fire stick.

          That provides all I need. I would quite happilly have NOT bought a "smart" Tv. B.T.W the sony TV is not that good.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

            I bought a smart TV a year ago - bliss. dumped the sky box and the subscription, gave the fire stick away. can get amazon and netflix, and sky stuff through Now TV, I'm aware that at some time in the future some new feature may mean that an app doesn't work the way it should - and at that point I might need to connect an external source - but right now I'm loving the lack of cable knots and the fact that I only need one remote control. BTW LG and it is pretty good.

          2. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

            B.T.W the sony TV is not that good.

            Just this. The company that produced the Trinitron, the first verically flat CRT TV with square corners, now doesn't even build its own panels, preferring to shove in a generic panel and rely of the 'cachet' of the Sony Bravia brand to justify the higher price.

            But I suppose, since people are happy to pay a premium for generic Chinese hatchbacks with an MG badge, or 'modern' Wharfedale speakers cobbled together by a far eastern box shifter, perhaps they have a point.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

              So it seems that my Sony Bravia contains one of the last Sony manufactured panels.

              Well it is old!

    2. KBeee

      Re: No, don't check how long it will be supported!

      Which? isn't missing the point. It is pointing out the pitfalls if you choose to buy a "smart" appliace.

  29. heyrick Silver badge

    Please stop calling them "smart".

    Connected, yes.

    Smart, no.

    The fridge won't tell me when I'm running low on milk. The washing machine can't tell me off for mixing my coloureds.

    And even if, somehow, these devices could, it wouldn't need an internet connection to make it work.

    They're connected. They aren't smart.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: Please stop calling them "smart".

        Don't get him started about allowing a red in with the whites!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Please stop calling them "smart".

          You can mix reds and whites if you like ... just don't try to pass it off as rosé in these here parts. That dawg won't hunt.

  30. skyhisi
    WTF?

    ESP8266 and an opto-isolator

    I used an ESP8266 wifi module and an opto-isolator to make make dish-washer "smart" by monitoring the End LED light.

    Not sure why it'd cost £259 to add less than £10 of electronics.

  31. spold Silver badge

    there's a risk hackers could co-opt unpatched fridges...

    All your banger are belong to us

  32. chuBb. Bronze badge

    Any product with the word smart in its name is dumb

    Pretty much as title, that or "Smart" products for dumb people.

    Smart TV, dumber than a £30 dongle, touch screen fridge 3 year old tablet attached to a bigger panel, a smart fridge in my book, is energy effcient and has decent climate control and comes with an integrated tablet holder, like one you get for your dashboard in your car.

    Still as apple proved there is a market for dumb devices for dumber people.

  33. John Robson Silver badge

    I had to replace a washing machine recently...

    This one claims to be smart... And it has one really nice feature - it has a decent sized reservoir of detergent and softener and auto dispenses them each load.

    However since I still have to put the clothes in through the front there is no point in letting it connect to a network.

    My assumption is that a fridge will continue to act as a fridge if not connected... Not that i can quite work out what I'd want a smart fridge to do that cannot equally be done using whiteboard markers on it's door.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I had to replace a washing machine recently...

      Softener? You mean that stuff that's designed to make your clothes absorb water so they need washing 5 times as quickly as just normal clean cloth?

      1. KBeee

        Re: I had to replace a washing machine recently...

        I thought it was the opposite. I remember being told when buying rather expensive towels not to use softener as it inhibits the towels ability to absorb water.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I had to replace a washing machine recently...

          Correct, KBeee.

          Instead of the softener, try a quarter cup of cheap white vinegar in with the final rinse. Gets rid of critter fur and other miscellaneous fuzz, deodorizes a few things that make it past the detergent, and generally makes for a more pleasing final product. No, it doesn't make your smalls smell like chips. Try it once, you'll never go back. Especially if you have dawgs/cats that shed a lot.

  34. goodjudge

    60-ish posts and...

    No-one has yet been able to come up with a reason for having one except the "reminder to buy more milk 'cos the kids have drunk it" near the top. So what *is* the market justification for this nonsense? I don't constantly by the same brand or size of anything, including milk; it depends what's on offer or whether I'm at the supermarket or the local shop when I remember about replacement. Or am I an exception to the rule?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: 60-ish posts and...

      The only real reason to have one is the artificial Marketing promise of "keeping up with the Joneses". They don't really do anything else remotely useful.

      1. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: 60-ish posts and...

        To sell more stuff. We live in an age where people are conditioned to things having some sort of connection and it "doing" something. It also ties in with the appalling waste of resources as more and more appliances, tech, furniture is becoming a fashion commodity to be binned when the next new colour comes out. Recycling only goes so far as that only reduces some of the resources used to make the next load of disposable tat. It does nothing to take into account all the resources that are actually consumed during the production of said tat.

        Wherever you look, software is involved in making hardware useful and is the root cause of most things breaking. Just what is wrong with a bloody on/off switch with a mechanical contact?

  35. OffBeatMammal

    You have to be dumb if you buy smart

    So called Smart TV that stop getting updates after a couple of years, SmartPhones that don’t get an update during the life of a contract, set top boxes that stop getting app updates after a couple of years, smarthome systems where the vendor decides to move to a new standard after you completed retiring the house with now unsupported devices, my oh so smart Subaru that doesn’t get firmware updates a year after it rolled out of the factory because the dealer seriously seemed to expect I would want to trade it for a new one!

    If anything has the word smart on it, or connects to the internet... you probably want to assume it has a 12 month built in obsolescence switch and do the maths accordingly...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desirable level of smartness

    I quite like the smart features of my fridge. It has an integrated auto activated sensor that illuminates the contents when you open the door as well as temperature sensitive auto regulator that keeps the contents at the desired temperature. But I really covet the feature on my son's new fridge - it has an intelligent chrono sensitive piezo-sonic alerting mechanism when it works out its door has been left open too long. I wouldn't mind buying a fridge that would send a server the 'my door isn't closed you twit' message so that I'd get the message wherever I was in the house - and a freezer that tells you it's power has failed would make sense.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Desirable level of smartness

      "I wouldn't mind buying a fridge that would send a server the 'my door isn't closed you twit' message"

      A REALLY smart fridge would activate a solenoid which would cause a weight to drop which would tug on a piece of string which would pull the door closed.

      By itself.

      And then send an email to let you know it had done it.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Desirable level of smartness

      "it has an intelligent chrono sensitive piezo-sonic alerting mechanism when it works out its door has been left open too long"

      Ours has that. Trouble is, its idea of too long isn't the same as mine. Bleeping nuisance.

  37. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Found something on a new fridge which was actually useful

    it was a beeper to let you know you'd left the door open. You know for people who cant be arsed to twiddle whose feet things so the only way to leave the door open was to jam the dog in it while it defrosted.

  38. MJI Silver badge

    Not very big semi

    so kitchen / dining room, fridge freezer is about 1m from where I am sitting working on a tower PC remote to office, between us a door way (door removed) and I can see the TV with some white haired man and a blonde woman chatting with other people remotely.

    My wife is on a This Morning binge as she can't use the PC.

    If my wife wants a recipe she uses THIS PC.

    TV is pre smart and better for it. Fridge is better being a fridge.

  39. Reeder

    This is happening already

    My router's firmware is not being updated despite being a year old...the best one The Verge reported that Spectrum had stranded customers...https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/13/21063596/spectrum-home-security-discontinued-service-charter-cable-cost-refund.

    I think we can expect to see lots of this type of thing in the future!

  40. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Never seen the point of "smart" kitchen appliances. Smart lighting, smart meters and smart thermostats, yes, they are handy. I have a smart thermostat and couple of hue bulbs. It *is* sometimes handy to be able to switch them on or off remotely.

    Kitchen appliances are different. Nearly every appliance, be it a Fridge, Washing Machine, Dryer, Oven, slow cooker or whatever requires a user to deal with it physically, if just to load or unload it.

    I don't see the use of smart appliances in the kitchen. Yes, your oven can look up a recipe for you, but so can a tablet, mobile or laptop. Yes, you can trigger the device to do it's function, be it Washing, Drying, cooking or whatever, but unless the device already has washing or food in it, that is pointless, and when you load up the device, you can trigger it then and there, or set a delayed start, on the the device controls.

    Fridges are even more useless. They are running the whole time anyway, so can't be triggered by an app. Yes, they can order food from your supermarket, but that requires a sane system of tracking stuff that is put in and removed from the fridge, and a human still needs to check the fridge for spoiled contents anyway. Yes, you can surf the web from your fridge. This would be a selling point in the 90s or early 00s, but you can surf the web on pretty much anything now, and most people have a mobile that can do it.

    In the mean time, some things all these smart devices *do* achieve is to increase the amount of potential vulnerabilities in the security of your home network, and they also no doubt report what you do to the manufacturer and whoever they chose to store their data. One potentially handy thing is that assuming they detect a fault, they *can* call the engineer. Theoretically that is a good thing, but in practice it depends on the calibre of engineers the manufacturers employ, as it will only call them.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Not All Kitchen Appliances Are Different

      I have Alexa turn on a kettle first thing in the morning or a small sauce pot AKA mini Crockpot for food that doesn't need to be simmering away for >5 hours (Smaller volume) around mid-day.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Not All Kitchen Appliances Are Different

        I have a little timer that sits between the small appliance and the mains. They run under $10 each, and last for years. No Internet capability included, or needed. For a little more money you can add X10 capability to the same circuit. How much was that bit o' Amazon tat again?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not All Kitchen Appliances Are Different

          An Alexa capable smart switch runs about ......$10 - and an Alexa dot that you can use other stuff .. $30 - or roll your own with a Rasberry PI. why do El Reg users love being luddites?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not All Kitchen Appliances Are Different

            I think the difference between Jake's solution and yours is that Jake controls his, you only think you control yours.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      @Stuart Castle Re: vulnerabilities

      This is a typical Luddite response to the glories on offer from this amazing technology!

      Why, only a few months ago, my IoT doorbell alerted me to a man at my front door while I was away on Hamilton Island.

      I was able to tell him that I wasn't at home and that the house would be empty for another two weeks, thus saving him the bother of waiting around for a minute or two to determine that there was nobody at home, or even pressing the doorbell repeatedly before deciding.

      Because my wonderful IoT doorbell has a built in video camera, I was also able to see from his expression that I had saved him the trouble of having to come back to the house daily to check whether I was in, so all round a most successful application of this wondrous technology.

      Coming back from my holiday to find the house ransacked was a little disappointing though. Maybe I should invest in one of those IoT burglar alarm jobbies.

  41. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    It's smart money

    Mostly smart devices are seen as built by "dumb" people, but they are making money from the stuff they build. This is not anything new - once upon a time you could buy a fridge and if the device died after a few years then you get get it repaired. But by preventing that the manufacturers made you buy new ones - "smart" devices are just an evolution for the folks at the top of the money chain.

    If it's "smart" then why can't it do diagnostics and call the service department to replace seals, coolant, motors etc?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: It's smart money

      Once IoT is firmly established in the average household, guess what, the services will require a subscription.

      White goods manufacturers have seen how the software industry migrated from selling to renting and they want that some of that continuous income too, IoT is a way to gain a foothold.

  42. Sam Crawley

    Broker services?

    I don't think we can stem the tide of "smart" devices but these examples of obsolescence make the case for:

    (a) requiring that devices are engineered so the the smart aspects fail 'cleanly' when they lose their central coordination - for example the smart fridge displaying some nice art or being able to switch off the screen completely rather than to have to live with certificate errors or code dumps etc..

    (b) requiring that smart devices can be re-pointed to alternative services - perhaps a market will grow for subscription-based central services - after all the reason these things are being wound up after a few years is they cost money and are being offered out free aside from the initial capex, right?

    (c) perhaps requiring that devices talk via subscription broker services to make it easier to do (b) - would also probably help with interop where sensible.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Broker services?

      (d) making it possible for owners to run the alternative services (from (b) ) themselves on their own server.

  43. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "users could find themselves with a big, frosty brick"

    Why would the basic mechansim of a fridge (compressor, circulation pipe work, radiator, thermostat) stop working if it loses its " online support"? Only because they can make it like that so you'll have to replace it. A friend who's not on the internet has a 60 year old fridge that still works fine - it's needed one replacement compressor in that time.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HPC Fridge

    An always-on cooling system in a domestic appliance: Shurely we're missing a trick with some High Perf Compute shenanigans?

    Smart fridge? Pfft. Meet my Home Compute Cluster fridge!

    Alternatively: my server that can also chill beer 'n' wine.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: HPC Fridge

      My machineroom/museum/mausoleum/morgue helps heat the house in the Winter, does that count? In the summer, we store the excess heat in the ground ... GSHPs are truly smart tech!

  45. Zebo-the-Fat

    Updates for "up to" 10 years... 3 weeks falls under "up to"

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      If it's like a cell phone, the last update doesn't work.

  46. Blackjack Silver badge

    It turns out that...

    Using smart devices is a dumb thing to do.

    My dumb fridge got twenty years, some repairs and still works.

  47. Povl H. Pedersen

    There is a reason why we are many that tries to un-cloudify our products.

    My Xiaomi is cloudsless thanks to valetudo.

    All zigbee devices are controlled through zigbee2mqtt

    All WiFi Switches runs Tasmota if they do not natives support MQTT.

    My Visonic alarm system is networkable thanks to a $4 serial to Ethernet module and not the $250 cloud bridge.

    And everything is controlled by Home Assistant

  48. AdamWill

    bit questionable really

    to be a bit fair here: the 'smart' functionality of all the 'smart' appliances I've seen so far has been basically bolt-on extras. My fridge has some 'smart' features, so does my washing machine, so does my range. I haven't set any of them up or ever actually connected them to the internet and they still cool things, wash things, and burn the eggs (respectively) perfectly well, so far.

    The price points cited also seem kinda misleading because, in general, 'smart' features go along with other upgrades. There isn't usually a choice between two models with identical features otherwise, but with/without an internet connection; the model with 'smart' features likely also has several other upgrades over the model without.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: bit questionable really

      > so far has been basically bolt-on extras

      True, which makes that today you can still neuter a "smart" appliance by simply not connecting it to the Internet. Unfortunately, soon this won't be possible anymore, because at some point your washing machine simply won't start if it can't connect to the mothership to check your "subscription status" (and upload your laundry list).

      The goal of all IoT gadgets is to tie you to a (paying) service, without which they simply won't work. This also allows the manufacturers to decide when you'll have to replace your appliances. Don't try to deny it, that's how the more evolved "connected" things already work...

  49. Arachnoid

    Why expect anything else

    Your mobile device is only supported for several years if you are lucky and "smart " cars well we will see how that pans out regarding spares availability [batteries especially] and software updates.

  50. ChrisBedford

    If you spend *THREE THOUSAND POUNDS* on a fridge and it goes "out of support" you are getting what you deserve.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The enviromental impact.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned the extra enviromental impact of mining, processing (located far from the mines) and shipping the extra materials required to make a device "smart" not to mention as the power hungry server farms they tend to rely on or the difficulty of recycling e-waste.

  52. Danny 5
    Big Brother

    Please explain

    What is the appeal of these devices? I have been in tech for over 25 years, but I try to stay away from all the "smart" IOT devices. My fridge was, is and always will be dumb. So will my dishwasher, or any other such device. My TV is the dumbest of smart TVs you can get, it's connected to the internet, but no camera and no microphone. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I've always been highly suspicious of anything that's always connected, I don't like the idea of having deviccs that are on 24/7 and potentially listening/looking in my private space.

    Is it just me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please explain

      The supposed appeal is that you can use your smartphone to interface with it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please explain

        "The supposed appeal is that you can use your smartphone [...]"

        A lot of companies and organisations assume everyone has a smartphone these days - and design their customer facing interfaces accordingly. A bit like Twitter demanding your mobile number to verify your login - after you have already verified via email. Ok - I can generally live without their services. It will be a sad day when I have to buy a smartphone and contract to engage with an essential service.

        At the moment British Gas can't even render my billing details on W7 - and have reverted me to paper billing. The helpline says "You have to use Chrome".

        BT can't verify my change of email address on any of five W7 up-to-date systems using IE11, Chromium Edge, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Waterfox, Palemoon, Safari. Nor on Linux Mint 18 Firefox 76, Chromium. Even getting a friend to try on a consumer W10 IE11, Google Chrome has no success. BT second line support can do it - on an IE11 whose version number is way ahead of anything apparently downloadable as an update. Their suggestion is I give them my password to effect the change.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Please explain

      > What is the appeal of these devices?

      For the user: Mostly to impress the Joneses. Some people will eventually find themselves some justification for having "smart" versions of simple, single-task appliances, even if it is usually highly artificial ("I totally need to able to check the home freezer while on vacation. Not that I could do anything in case it fails, but I do need to check on it daily").

      For the manufacturer: As I said earlier, it allows to tie the victim into a "services" contract so he keeps paying even after having bought the appliance. It also generates saleable user data, a third source of income. Last but not least, you get to decide when the victim will renew his appliances. Need a strong 3rd quarter for some administrative reason? Shut down all appliances out there, so people are forced to buy new ones. (Note all this already exists and is really happening, just not yet in the white goods domain.)

  53. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    LG nonsense

    I'm still trying to figure out why cooking ranges and small-room air conditioners have WiFi remote control. It's just as confusing as why I need to create a cloud account to even look at the remote control app.

    It might be amusing to watch a portable air conditioner get hacked but the fire breathing appliance is never getting a WiFi password.

  54. tuppennyblue

    Someone used the phrase "smart trousers" in a document recently, and I had to do a double take before I realised what he meant...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My first thought was "Wallace and Gromit".

  55. Toni the terrible

    Smart Fridges etc

    Points at item - Says "Ha, Ha"

    thenks to The Simpsons

  56. chairman_of_the_bored
    FAIL

    If you ever thought a smart fridge was a good idea,just wait until yours says "Have you not had enough, yet, you fat b*stard? And step away from the beer before I call Alcoholics Anonymous!"

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