If you're the person who hosts the weekly game, there's usually a routine to be followed in preparation for the game. The TV is adjusted for optimal viewing from every seat in the room, plans are made for snacks or a meal, and if your group of friends drink during the game there's usually a plan for making sure you don't run out. That could be grabbing a case for the group or it could be everyone bringing a little something and piling it all in the fridge. This part of the routine is something Budweiser felt could use a little extra technology. Something that made it easier for you and your friends to quickly check and see how many beers were already there to be consumed, so you could plan around it.
That something is called the Bud-E Fridge, and we've been using one for a couple of weeks now. Lets take a look.
The first thing you'll notice about this beverage fridge is the branding. It's a bright blue box with Bud Light scrawled across the front. On the top left on the fridge door you've got a round display, with a row of buttons across the top of the fridge door for controlling the fridge. Opening the door reveals three shelves, each with six bottle or can-sized rows. The top two rows work well for holding bottles, while the bottom row is explicitly for smaller cans, but for the most part you can mix and match as you choose.
Each row has a blue spacer that sits behind the drinks you put in the fridge, which is important. Every time you put a beer in or take a beer out of this fridge, those blue spacers help the computer inside this fridge determine how many drinks are inside, and this information is then displayed on the front of the fridge. You can see at a glance how much is left, and there's even an empty to full gauge to help show you how much more the fridge can hold.
As a beverage fridge, it gets the job done. You can set the temperature from the buttons on the top, and it does a good job keeping everything that temperature, which is expected. Where the Bud-E Fridge gets interesting is the app you use to remotely access and control this pieced of connected home tech.
After you create an account in the app, a series of pulsing lights give instructions to the photo sensor on the top of the fridge, pairing it to your local Wifi network and connecting you to your fridge. You can now see how many drinks are in your fridge from anywhere, but you now also have some extra options to play with. There's a security feature that will ping you with a notification should anyone open the fridge while you are away, a countdown clock for when beer you just put in the fridge will be cold, and the ability to order more Bud Light from the app if you're running low. You can also tell your E-Fridge what your favorite Football team is, and it will remind you to stock up when your team is playing. True fans can even have their Bud-E Fridge cheer along with you when your team scores or wins.
Arguably the most interesting feature in the Bud E-Fridge arsenal is the ability to invite friends to your fridge through apps on their phones. This makes it possible for friends to check on your beer level before heading over, and through the Events section of the app you can make plans that only the group is privy to. There's also a chat service baked into the app, so everyone can communicate as a group with no problem. It's impressively social, as long as you don't think too hard about your social experience largely revolving around a beer fridge.
Overall, the Bud-E Fridge is a cool idea. The app could stand to improve a little, maybe allow for more than just NFL and NHL teams to be set as the teams to follow, but it's not hard to see why someone would want one of these. You have to either be really in to Bud Light or just not care at all about the branding to appreciate the full effect, but the underlying concepts are cool and it actually works. Budweiser currently has the full retail price of this fridge at $599, but is making it available on their website for a significantly more reasonable $299 for a limited time.