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More internet kitchens

Samsung, Pansonic cook something up

Two of the world's leading electronics manufacturers recently unveiled smarter home appliances and pushed forward the day your kitchen electronics collectively gang up against you.

Samsung took the wraps off a refrigerator that can access the internet and be used to watch television, while Japan's Matsushita, better known as Panasonic, announced a smart microwave oven.

Samsung's new refrigerator is not so much a smart appliance as a refrigerator/PC hybrid. The device sports a 15in LCD (liquid crystal display) on the door that rivals those found on most notebook computers and serves as the central interface to the computer system.

Via the touch panel users can access the internet to surf the web, send and receive email or watch TV. In addition, other audio/visual devices, such as DVD players, can be attached.

It also comes equipped to control future devices planned by the electronics maker. Samsung said the refrigerator could control microwave ovens, washing machines and air conditioners by sending control signals through a house's conventional electrical wiring. The other appliances are still under development by the company.

Matsushita announced at the end of last week a microwave oven with an electronic recipe book function. Recipes are loaded into the oven via an SD (Secure Digital) Flash memory card. An 8MB memory card can store around 365 recipes and cooking information, the company said in a statement.

The electronic cooking book is accessed via a 3.8in colour LCD panel on the front of the microwave and automatically sets the oven's cooking temperature, microwave power and cooking time. When it knows what you are cooking, the oven is also capable of suggesting side dishes and providing other advice, said Matsushita while adding, perhaps a little too optimistically, the new oven will take the "drudgery out of cooking".

Kitchens of the future are, however, not cheap. Expect to pay more than £6,000 for the fridge.

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