Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Tech review: iGrillmini neatly sends temp to phone, via Bluetooth

By Joe Amarante
The cooking gizmo maker iDevices LLC has an iGrill Barbecue Thermometer that gets fairly decent ratings  online from users, but its new iGrillmini is smaller, cooler and — based on a test recently — very efficient and useful, especially on a frosty night months away from the official start of grilling season.
Wired probe runs from base to meat on grill.

Some grillers make sure they cook beef or pork safely by overcooking the heck out of it. Others, like me, have no concept of time when grilling and pull the entree too early (while it’s still a tad rare).
But the iGrillmini performed flawlessly in a test with a small, teriyaki-flavored pork tenderloin. Here’s how it all works:
You insert the wired, metal probe into the meat on your outdoor grill (you could also use you indoor oven, I suppose). The wire runs a couple of feet to the small iGrillmini device that is magnetized so you can affix it to a cool place on the outside of the grill or grill table and still put the lid down.
You download a free iDevices app to your iphone (Android support is coming soon) and turn on the iGrillmini with the push of a button. The app quickly finds the Bluetooth Smart signal and graphs the progress of your meat temperature up to 150 feet away.
When the tenderloin reached about 110 or so, I walked out on the snowy deck briefly to turn it over. Then it was back in for a glass of wine and wait for the graphed readout to hit a safe 145-155 degrees.
When it hit the low 150s, I quickly turned it off, brought it in, put the iGrillmini aside and sliced a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin.
Of course, when I went to the supermarket to find a small roast, I noticed that several of the meat and chicken roasts now come with pop-up timers. But the iGrillmini ($39 on the website, allows you do choose how well you want it cooked.
Our tenderloin only took about 25 minutes, but for folks with a slow cooker, the device could be even more valuable, letting you monitor progress after several hours by checking your phone. (There’s a 150-hour life on the coin battery in the iGrillmini.)
The app also allows you to share what you’re cooking on social media and see what people elsewhere are cooking. (Not my style.)
You can also have the phone alert you when your goal temperature is reached, but I prefer to do what most phone-obsessed younger people do and just glance at the readout every minute or so. The suggested temperature is usually listed on the meat label or (if you buy from a butcher) you can look it up in the phone app.

If you’re already thinking ahead to a summer of grilling two fat steaks, a turkey breast tenderloin and a pork chop at the same time, an iGrill2 is planned for May release with the four-probe capacity ($100).
Update: A second grilling went almost as well, although there was a lot of fresh snow on the grill so it made it a challenge to put the magnetic base somewhere dry. Inside the house, the app lost contact with the base as the temperature for the turkey tenderloin approached the recommended 165 degrees. But I restarted the app just in time to see 164 degrees and make a quick move outside. Result was a still-tender (if charred outside; I need to operate at a lower heat) entree.

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