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Hotpoint HTR16ABSRWW 15.6 Cu. Ft. Top Freezer White Review$499.00
There was a rather pronounced shift in temperature from the top of the Hotpoint's fridge to its bottom. Near the top of the fridge, the temperatures were about 38 degrees Fahrenheit, just slightly warmer than the ideal 37. As we move toward the bottom, however, temperatures crawl up another degree, just breaking 39. Luckily, produce can be stored at a slightly warmer temperature than other refrigerated goods, so this slight change in shouldn't have any adverse effects on your food. The excellent thing about the Hotpoint's fridge is that temperatures almost never fluctuated over time, so food is not being exposed to a wide range of temperatures and will be better preserved because of that fact.
Despite having a box-like freezer, the temperatures actually varied greatly from top to bottom. Also, the fact that the Hotpoint only has a single temperature control means one compartment is always at the mercy of the other; we calibrated the appliance to a good fridge temperature, and as a result, the freezer never quite hit the ideal. Perhaps taking its brand name a bit too seriously, the Hotpoint was about two degrees warmer than the perfect freezing temperature, while the bottom was a full nine degrees too warm. The good news is, temperatures never fluctuated more than a quarter of a degree, so each section remained consistent over time. As long as you don't shift your frozen goods around all that much, you should be fairly safe from freezer burn.
The Hotpoint doesn't actually have a proper crisper drawer. There's a wide, pull-out drawer at the bottom of the fridge, but it has no humidity control and it's completely opaque, so you won't be able to check on your produce without opening the drawer and letting out more moisture. That said, the rate of moisture retention in this "crisper" was surprisingly good. Despite its rather questionable appearance, our test materials lost an average rate of 0.17 grams of water per hour. Not only is this acceptable, it's actually pretty darn good, and a better performance quality than some models that have drawers with adjustable humidity control.
Simulating a power outage by simply unplugging the appliance, we check to see how long food will remain frozen. As long as the freezer door isn't opened, the Hotpoint will keep items thoroughly frozen for over 36 hours. If your power stays out longer than that, your concern may be less for the quality of your fridge and more for the effectiveness of your electric company.
We make sure to pack our freezer to simulate air circulation in a well-stocked appliance, and as such, it took the Hotpoint one hour and 49 minutes to freeze our room-temperature test materials. For such a small freezer, this is quite poor. Ideally, food would be frozen instantaneously in order to preserve it at its highest point of freshness and nutritional value. The longer it takes, the worse your food will be when thawed. We've seen appliances of all sizes do much better than this; after one hour and 49 minutes, a piece of chicken or steak could have an altered, inferior texture when thawed.