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Appliances: Internet on Ice

William Kissel

The old-fashioned icebox was a simple concept—a place for cold storage. Do not expect the new iCEBOX appliance to keep the milk and lettuce cool. Produced by Seattle-based Icebox, a subsidiary of Salton, the iCEBOX FlipScreen 2002, due out in early 2003 and priced at $2,995, should turn up the burners in the kitchen appliance market. iCEBOX is a web-enabled entertainment center that incorporates cable television, Internet and e-mail access, a DVD and audio CD player, and a home monitoring system, enabling cooks to check the news, cruise the web, and survey their surroundings without putting down the peeler.

The product derives its name from its key features: information, communications, and entertainment (ICE) all inside a contemporary, space-efficient 111¼2-inch stainless-look box designed to fit flush under most standard kitchen cupboards.

“When we developed the iCEBOX, we wanted to develop the next revolutionary product for the kitchen,” explains Nina Cordova, vice president of marketing for the technology-driven appliance company. “We learned from consumer studies that people want entertainment in the kitchen.” In fact, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, 90 percent of all high-end kitchen remodels today feature a television. “Because the kitchen is a multiactivity space, we don’t watch television there the same way we do in our dens and living rooms,” Cordova adds. “But we still want to be able to catch up on the news or watch our favorite TV shows while we’re chopping.”

What is unique about the iCEBOX is that the company took the television concept one step further by incorporating a 12-inch LCD flip-down touchscreen with a washable, wireless keyboard and remote, all of which run on Microsoft’s Windows CE.NET operating system. “It is a web-browsing feature; it is not a PC,” says Cordova. “No one is going to do a PowerPoint presentation in the kitchen or need to pull up a spreadsheet. But we do want to look for recipes, check our stocks, or check to see if a flight is on time.” Another oft-requested feature in high-end houses is home networking—the ability to turn the sprinklers on or off, or monitor a baby’s room. So the company added a monitoring feature that can attach to a wired or wireless camera. The system’s audio and video features are equipped with  Red Rock acoustic sound.

Although the system can be fitted for any kitchen, Cordova says the units were specifically developed for installation during new construction or remodels. “You have to have three wires—electrical power, a TV connection, and an Internet connection—run through the backsplash, and the easiest time to install that is during a remodel,” she says.

Most important, the iCEBOX is designed specifically with manicures in mind. “Buttons in front of the unit are designed to be extremely tactile so that even a woman with long nails can use them,” says Cordova.

Icebox LLC, 877.463.7637

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