If you've ever wished you could print a custom label for your home-bottled lager and keep it chilled down to a precise 40 degrees Fahrenheit, chill out.
If you've ever needed to lock your precious supply of Diet Cokes away from thrifty, thieving co-workers, chill out.
If you've ever needed a ready supply of chilled Mountain Dew Code Red within arm's reach, because one hand's locked onto WASD, chill out.
The Hisense Chill (MSRP $799) is the answer to all those problems and more. It's a combination vending machine, refrigerator, and storage unit.
I went hands-on with this awesome product—then sugar crashed and took a nap—then went hands-on again later, and I'm absolutely baffled as to why we haven't had a product like this before 2015.
How It Works
Push button, get drink—it's Pavlovian!
The design and functionality of the Hisense Chill really couldn't be simpler. The top half of the unit features a vending machine–style row of four buttons above a swinging door. When you push a button, a drink drops from inside the chilled holding compartment and slides (often whimsically) through the door, ready to quench your thirst.
It's basically the Keurig of chilled drinks, except you'll actually want to drink what comes out of it. (Zing!)
The upper compartment stores up to 76 12 oz. cans (soda, seltzer, beer—your choice!), with 19 cans assigned to each button. Alternatively, you can stock it with 36 16 oz. bottles (same drill) at nine bottles per button.
You can even mix things up, if you like: The four "tracks" that correspond to each button can be filled with any combination of bottles and cans, so you could even make a crazy drinking game with random beers of varying ABVs loaded in. (But if you do, remember that I pretty much invented "Beer Roulette.")
You can fine-tune the cooling to your heart's content, though unfortunately you can only set one temperature for the entire machine. It can chill drinks to as low as 35°F (just above freezing); naturally, they'll get cold faster if you're not filling the entire empty space with lukewarm beverages.
Most of the interior is metal, too, which will help maintain temps au fil du temps. It's really that simple, and it seems like the kind of uncomplicated machine that should stand the test of time. But if anything does go wrong, we're told the Chill includes a 3-year warranty.
Customization, child locks, and extra storage, oh my!
One real standout feature of the Hisense Chill is that, like a traditional vending machine, you can customize what the buttons and front-panel look like. You can also easily swap out the drink indicators, though printing out little slips of paper to stick in there seems like it could end up looking pretty chintzy.
We're not sure how Hisense made the ones on display—like Mountain Dew or Sierra Mist—but there's likely a solution somewhere.
One of the coolest features is the "lock." You can seal the top drink cabinet and use small switches inside to enable/disable dispensing of certain drinks. If you want to make sure your teenager doesn't get into your wine coolers, or grandpa doesn't get into the Vita-Coco, you can lock those drink paths until you're around to regulate.
Below the beverage vending storage compartment is another smaller storage space. This area stays at the same temperature as the primary chamber, and the shelves can be removed, so you can store a lot more than just beverages.
2015 is looking like a pretty chill year.
At a $799 list price, the Hisense Chill is much more than a mini-fridge, but certainly not a replacement for an actual refrigerator (unless you're living in a dorm room). It's a silly, fun, niche sort of product along the lines of a personal Margarita-maker, but it's also fitted with plenty of smart extra features and quirky customization options.
It would be the perfect addition for a man-cave or company break room. (Hint, hint.)
The Chill should be arriving in stores this spring, and you may want to think about a pre-order. This compact vendor of frigidi imbibements is sure to sell like hot cakes, if the USA is anywhere near as excited about it as the attendees at CES 2015 were.