Fisher Paykel E522BRX 17.6 Cu. Ft. Bottom Freezer Stainless Steel Review$1,849.00
Ease of Access
The wide-open shelves in the fridge offer ample storage space that is relatively easy to get to, no matter where you put your food. The pull-out tray for the crisper drawer slides smoothly, though the fact that you have to open the entire thing even if you just want something out of one compartment may be a bit of a hassle. The freezer drawers aren't quite as smooth as the crisper, and the ice tray comes out so easily you may accidentally pull it clear out of the freezer, but the large buckets and easy-to-grip handle indentations make up for those small flaws. Door shelves are also easy to get to, but the dairy tray lids don't stay up by themselves, an inconvenience if you're trying to get out more than one thing from the fridge at a time. Lastly, the fact that the water filter is stored externally near the back of the appliance means, depending on how your kitchen is set up, that you may have to move the entire fridge every time you need to change the filter, a factor that may cause you to just use the tap.
The control panel, which operates everything in the appliance, is located on the fridge door, and is operated using a series of buttons that cause the panel to illuminate when in use.
The control panel isn't really all that intuitive. A lack of labels on the buttons may cause some confusion, though once you can remember which button cycles through the functions and which ones actually alter the fridge settings, you should be fine. Be sure to read the user's manual, though - some of the more unique functions, such as the bottle chiller and the super freeze, aren't explained on the console. The bottle chiller, which sounds fancy, is just an alarm that you can set when you want to freeze a drink but are worried about forgetting about it.
The water dispenser is only a small indentation on the front of the door to the fridge portion of the appliance. It is operated using a paddle which feels cheap and unresponsive as compared to the larger, sturdier paddles found on dual water and ice dispensers. Presumably to prevent storage space reductions on the fridge door, the indentation is minimal, meaning you won't be able to rest your glass while filling it.
The ice maker is located in the rear upper left corner of the freezer compartment. It's hard to see, and even harder to get to. Fortunately, you don't normally need to get to it - It's controlled using the console on the fridge door, and only dispenses bulk quantities of ice. The Fisher & Paykel comes with a large ice bucket that can be removed to either access the ice or when the device isn't being used.
You'd think that the smooth glass shelves would be easy to keep pristine. Not so - in an odd design quirk, the shelves actually taper. They're slightly narrower in the back than they are in the front, meaning removing the shelves and then trying to get them back in can result in a lot of fumbling, which can be very nerve-wracking due to the fragility of having a mostly-glass shelf. And make sure spills don't pile up in the lip between the glass and the steel trim, an accessible haven for congealing gunk that's not quite as open to the wide expanses of a sponge. At the very least, the rear shelf lip should keeps things from dripping down the back, and the self-contained nature of both the freezer trays and the door shelves mean any spills will be easily managed. Of particular note are the crisper drawers, frequent victims of spoiled vegetable ooze - detachable buckets are easy to remove, clean off in a sink, and then slip back into place.
The Fisher & Paykel did emit a rather quiet buzzing sound coming from the back of the fridge, near the bottom. It wasn't terribly audible over the ambient noise of our testing facility, but in an otherwise quiet kitchen, you may find it just a bit distracting.