An icebox with your white box

The Web-enabled refrigerator was once a symbol of dot-com excess. Now, that excess is available at a retail store near you. Korea's LG Electronics is selling a 26-cubic-foot Multi-Media Refrigerator, with a built-in 15-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen for watching TV, surfing the Internet or looking at digital pictures.

But with a price tag of $8,000, the "first refrigerator of the Internet Age" costs well more than an upscale fridge and a top-of-the-line PC combined. In addition to surfing the Web while searching for a midnight snack, people using LG's kitchen convergence device can store recipes and messages from family members.

The LG model also purports to be able to diagnose its own problems, letting an owner know if a part is not working properly. That's good, said one appliance store employee, as there are few technicians with the expertise to fix an Internet fridge.

One of the few places selling the Net fridge is Silicon Valley electronics retailer Fry's Electronics. The store has been pitching the device in recent newspaper ads. The fridge has attracted attention over the past month at a Fry's store in San Jose, Calif., but the units have still been gathering a lot of dust.

"A lot of people are curious about it," said a worker in the appliance section at the San Jose store. "I haven't had anyone buy one yet."

In the late '90s, a Net-enabled refrigerator was a staple in Internet "concept homes" and for demonstrations of what companies envisioned Internet would bring. Some ideas even included a bar code scanner that could order milk or other goods from an online grocer if supplies were low.

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News source: C|net

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