iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini review: Now we’re cooking
By Andrew Hayward
TechHiveJul 23, 2014 4:30 am PDT
At a Glance
Notification when meat is fully cooked
Handy presets save guesswork
Range varies significantly by space
Broken auto-shut off kills batteries
The Kitchen Thermometer Mini pairs with an iOS app to pick preset temperatures and alert you when your meat is done, which can help you cook proteins perfectly with minimal effort—but a couple of caveats remain.
It’s really neat to see how smartphone integration can enhance the various tools and appliances we use around the home, but not everything necessarily needs a phone-centric boost. App-controlled, color-changing LED lights present an opportunity to use the tech in your pocket for new and exciting things. On the other hand, an iPhone-connected slow cooker that’s more expensive and less feature-rich than a standard one comes off as an unnecessary implementation.
Luckily, the Kitchen Thermometer Mini from iDevices falls more in line with the former example, delivering “smart” features that help you cook with precision without having to stare at the oven or stovetop. Not every aspect is as intelligent as it should be, but there’s real benefit to the iPhone connection here.
The Thermometer Mini itself is a small disc about the diameter of a half-dollar coin, which rests in a magnetic base and rotates 180 degrees to change the viewing angle. Plugged into that is the probe, which has a flexible, metal-lined four-foot cord—so you can, say, mount the thermometer to your fridge and have the cord safely running into your closed oven. The rubberized grip still becomes quite warm, however, whether the probe is in the oven or you’ve just had it in a resting roast for a couple minutes.
You’ll need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and the free iDevices Connected app to complete the equation, and the Kitchen Thermometer Mini connects wirelessly via Bluetooth LE through the app itself. As such, you’ll be able to see the current meat temperature on your device while away from the kitchen, assuming you’re in range of the thermometer.
The face of the Mini features a button surrounded by a flashing LED light, which shows the connection status at first before displaying a certain color based on how done the meat is in comparison to the selected preset. You’ll select your meat—and doneness level preference, when applicable—via the app, and then pop the probe into the protein and watch the temperature reading rise on the iOS device screen. As that happens, the light-up ring will change from green on the low end up to a bold, flashing red when the meat reaches the desired temperature.
Accompanying the flashing light is a beeping sound, as well as notifications on your iOS device, letting you leave the room and still be alerted. Aside from pressing the physical button on the thermometer to pair it to a device, everything else happens within the app, including selecting a preset, looking up recipes, and scoping out photos of meals cooked by other iDevice accessory owners around the world.
Being able to pick a preset temperature from within the app is a handy feature. Granted, if you’re simply doing a temperature check outside of the oven, it’s not difficult to look up a doneness target for a particular kind of meat on your phone and manually sort it out using a cheaper digital or dial meat thermometer.
But the real value comes from being able to stick the probe into a raw roast or hunk of meat before it hits the oven or pan, leave the kitchen entirely, and be alerted when your protein matches the desired preset temperature. Cooking pork has long been a struggle for me—it tends to be either too pink or overdone, rarely just right—but with the Kitchen Thermometer Mini, I was able to get a heads-up on my iPhone right when it hit the needed temperature and pull out the butterflied chops in time. That’s a huge help.
Range can be an issue, however. iDevices pegs the Bluetooth connectivity range at up to 150 feet between your iPhone and the thermometer, but in my apartment, I could only get about 30 feet away before the connection failed—which meant my living room was out-of-bounds if I wanted a timely alert. Your mileage will vary based on your space, but that was a disappointing twist in my space.
After using the Kitchen Thermometer Mini for the first time, a few days passed until I needed it again—to check the temperature of a roast that had just slow-cooked for eight hours. At that point, I pulled out the thermometer, pressed the button, and… nothing. It was dead. A replacement disc battery brought it back to life, but why would the device kick the bucket after a single, brief use? A bum starter battery?
Instead, it seems that the Mini’s faulty auto-shut off function is to blame. Namely, it doesn’t work at all. You can turn the Mini off manually by pressing the button in for three seconds, but if you don’t do so, it will continuously attempt to pair until the battery dies. What it’s supposed to do is shut down after five minutes if it’s not paired and the probe isn’t attached, or turn off after an oddly overlong eight hours if the probe remains plugged in but it’s still not paired to a device.
Instead, what it does is cycle endlessly through the pairing prompt, sending you to pick up a $5 battery for its miscue. Even a $10 Weber digital meat thermometer is designed to turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity, but this $40 smart option can’t muster that. Replicating the issue, I left it on overnight with no probe attached and no connection to my iPhone, and it was still pulsing 12-plus hours later. Connected devices should make things easier and more convenient for users, not add an extra layer of hassle to the experience—and at a premium, to boot.
Frustrating as the auto-shut off and potential range issues are, the Kitchen Thermometer Mini really shows the value of connecting your phone or tablet to a usually quite-simple kitchen utensil. It can’t guarantee a delicious meal, but it’ll at least ensure well-cooked proteins while you pay minimal attention.