“ Brand: Matsui / Type: Fridge Freezers / Energy Efficiency: A / Fresh Food Volume: 140L „
When I moved into my flat in late 2009 I was slightly disappointed to find that despite the masses of space available in the flat, the smallest room in the house happened to be the kitchen and bathroom, two rooms that I feel should have swapped with each other in terms of compactness and availability of space. I've been disappointed for example to find that of all the gadgets I have at my disposal, the kitchen has no room for a freezer or a tumble dryer whilst the oven which never gets used sits sealed and bonded in within a fitted kitchen cupboard that can't be taken out. Sometimes I despise fitted kitchens like this! Work space is relatively non-existent and this fridge has at best a 3 star cool box that doesn't really qualify being a mini freezer for any of the meats I want to freeze for a month after purchase despite Dixons' persistence to state such statistical data...more about that in a moment.
The current price Dixons are selling this budget brand fridge at comes in at £117 to £119 and for that you get a reasonably average looking fridge complete with ice box. It also has an easy to wipe clean white interior made up of a 1 wire shelf and a glass panel at the bottom that covets two versatile uses; a much needed glass half shelf and a cover for the slide and pull out thin acrylic plastic crisper drawer that can store fresh fish or vegetables. It is quite a standard looking fridge however and nothing if not simply designed for its function. In some cases you get what you pay for and if I had the chance I'd have plucked for a better brand or something with a lot more useable space than what the landlord had purchased. Whilst the capacity is around 140 litres/3.9cu.ft when fully loaded, I've really found it difficult using this fridge for space efficiency based on the fact that I live alone and I really don't know how anymore than one person could cope frankly! It has a white exterior, reversible door and a flush handle design inset at the top of the fridge to open it along with the brand name located at the front near the top.
For a start I'm on Slimming World's diet and for my daily quota of fresh produce I thought it would be plain sailing storing all the super free veg and free foods such as eggs in the fridge without complaint. I may not be Vegetarian but over the red diet I adore the green diet and the options that I can have in the choice of foods I love to consume seem to play at odds with this fridge. In short the Matsui is ruddy useless! The egg tray you get consists of only four spaces and doesn't fit into any of the shelves whilst a single ice tray for the fridge contains 10 pockets and delivers tiny ice cubes. Thus when it came to storing yogurt, my favourite choice consists of the 150ml pots of Muller Light yogurt. The downside however is that these pots are quite large in diameter and they fail to fit in the inner door of the Matsui as the top rung shelf is too thin and narrow. Try them at an angle and when the door is closed over, the pots can get damaged! At best the top rung can accommodate 2 to 3 circle rolls of Laughing Cow cheese, or Dairylea Triangle circles. Pluck for Muller Light's smaller 50ml sized pots and you can store a maximum of 5 out of their 6 cardboard boxed range. The next rung however isn't any better for space efficiency either; at best it can hold a block of cheese and 2 small 500ml cartons of UHT milk. The third rung has the worst design of all; a cheap metallic thin rod acts as a space saver that can be pushed outwards to accommodate bottles. Whilst this means it can store up to 5 to 6 bottles of thin Perrier water, or Co-Op's 1 litre flavoured water, the bottom rung's slippery bottom surface means bottles can fall at an angle and thus stick out allowing the door not to shut over. On this fridge none of the shelves are ridged or have a speckled finish that could in theory better food products and lend a hand in slip resistance. The crisper box can hold one full family sized bulb of lettuce and a couple of tomatoes. A three pack of peppers will however take up the remaining space, so like the rest of the fridge, the Matsui isn't as accommodating as I thought it would be as the back of the crisper box is only "half" the size of a normal square taken up by the rest of the motor.
The single wire shelf can be adjusted easily even though there are only just two options to increase space. I can't stand wire shelves - they can never level out short diameter tubs without them falling over unless you put them next to something. This seems a bit daft when using standard bottles of milk, or grab handle plastic Tetra pak milk products because with the shelf set at the lowest it means you have to take out whatever is being held on the glass panel underneath. Ready meals can be stored easily however as well as Tupperware boxes, which is just as well as I love making my own soup - you just have to be a dab hand at stacking. Stacking also means there is precious space left for anything that needs a bit of air between it, so strong cheeses and rice pudding sat next to one another can often be found affecting one another if the foods aren't packaged up properly. There is however a lot of bending required with this under counter fridge because the freezer box is so large and making it a bit higher inside would do Matsui no end of good with buyers who don't always want to bend to the floor to access food. A single light comes on which is tucked away behind the main control panel, has some use and gives good light - until you need to put food on the top shelf which then hides the light and it's short spread of illumination.
In terms of its freeze box, the Matsui is also sadly, particularly poor. A thin flap that must be pulled open with hinges at the top reveals a small freezer element of which Matsui claim to have awarded its coolant and freezer rating with three stars. A quick research into three star "cool boxes," according to Chester West Council* who go by national council and food safety guidelines state that a 3 star rated freezer can hold meat up to three months. Well, on two occasions I have nearly poisoned myself by keeping meat up to a month in the so-called ice box because with the fridge turned up high (but not all the way so that the Yogurt or milk doesn't freeze up) the Matsui fails to freeze meat properly. When I turned the fridge to its highest setting on its poorly marked dial (and with the light behind it which does a fair job of illuminating the whole interior) Mini-Milks were a surprising disaster, not able to freeze properly and turning the whole product into melted milk sticks contained in their individual pouches. Meat didn't freeze properly at the highest setting either, evident by its soft mush in the middle and frozen sides. At this point I should relay and state that Dixons were contacted a month after I moved in and with the receipt provided by the landlord, the Matsui was taken away to be inspected. I was more than shocked when Dixons responded after a lengthy three week inspection that the Matsui seemed to be behaving and it did not fail on its freezing tests. Even with their reassurance the ice box on Matsui number 2 is still poor at freezing and now sits permanently empty bearing no worth at all. As a result my shopping bill per week has doubled to £50 for fresh food rather than trusting wholeheartedly in the cool box. My kitchen doesn't have a heater and I hardly use any other cooking appliance other than the stove or microwave; where room heat is concerned, I like my kitchen to be cool rather than hot, so its not as if the room temperature is affecting the coolant or motor.
Although one could clearly argue that a cool box in a fridge isn't a freezer, why confuse the consumer with a 3 star rating that links it to a freezer design? The Matsui isn't a frost free fridge either and set on high, the Matsui freezes well enough before a scraper has to be involved thanks to an independent pull out 3" cool tray to allow medicines or chocolate bars to be cooled that sits just above the thin and flimsy freezer door. What a silly place to put it as ice often forms outside the top hinged door from the freezer/ice box which then freezes the slide out tray. Overall I'm not really that impressed with the Matsui not just its dangerous claimed 3 star rated ice box but the overall plastic quality which bends too much and doesn't feel like it will last.
Where quality fittings are concerned, it's not good news. Both the acrylic crisper box and glass panels are very thin and they have hard edges on them which caught me out a couple of times when cleaning. Noise levels are also quite high. Although the Matsui doesn't whine or scream it does have a tendency to kick start its coolant procedure at odd times, often heard even when the kitchen door is closed over in other rooms and late at night. It lasts for a fair five minutes before it calms down and returns to its normal state and the noise it makes is loud dripping water which Dixons say is a coolant that is a normal sound. Matsui claim that this fridge has an A rating for efficiency but I can't complain about that as its normal running hasn't really adjusted any of my power bills.
Naturally this Matsui disappoints me all round and it is a sad state of affairs that as a cool box it is something that I will have to put up with as a private tenant. Certainly if I had the opportunity to replace it with something a bit more decent I'd buy a better known brand for budget tastes, or something that can just accommodate food without feeling too hemmed in. Matsui really need to take a look at this appliance again and cater for buyers' UK tastes even if food products such as mine listed won't be accommodated. Just about handy for one buyer alone, the Matsui will fail to cater for a couple or a family whilst its poor accommodation, thin plastic build quality and noise is something buyers on a budget don't have to put up with; particularly when BEKO seems to have cornered the market with better designs, quieter motors and higher levels for reach. It may be A rated for efficiency but based on doubling my food bill thanks to it's inept freezing, it gets a D rating for my own economy! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2010.
Energy Efficiency / Short name: Matsui MUR1108WW