As grilling season begins in the U.S., the mystery behind the “hottest” product at Macworld 2011 becomes much more pertinent: what is the iGrill and does it work? And more importantly, is it worth it?
The iGrill is a Bluetooth enabled remote cooking thermometer. The base unit hangs outside the grill and you insert a probe in your food to determine temperature, just like one based on RF. Analog devices like this have been out for years. But iGrill is cooler because it’s Bluetooth. The iGrill supports up to two probes and transmits the data to your iOS device. Obviously, you don’t put your itself iPhone anywhere near the grill.
At first the unit was a bit flaky, but a few software updates and helpful tech support resolved the problems. I got it to pair fine with my iPad but had trouble with the iPhone. Also, we learned the hard way you can only pair the iGrill with one device at the time, which makes sense, but it means only one designated family member will likely operate in a supervisory role. My only complaint with tech support is that they are only open during business hours, and really, who grills during business hours?
The free companion app has a virtual thermometer interface to show the recognized temperature in analog and digital form. You can set an alarm by temperature, time, or a preset level of doneness depending on the type of meat being cooked. The app included a limited number of recipes, which were not integrated into the software. I expected to be able to tap on a recipe and have the iGrill configure itself based on the recipe.
As a remote thermometer, this unit is moderately expensive. Ones based on RF average around $50 retail while the iGrill sells for $99. However, if you wanted cheap you probably wouldn’t have an iPhone in the first place. Because this integrates with your iPhone, you don’t have to carry two devices around the house. That clearly has some value, but maybe not $50 worth.
Why buy it then? Because it’s fun! We’ve had a grill for year and never bothered to get a remote thermometer, and burned many dinners in the process (or thrown them in the microwave to reduce rawness). After we got the iGrill, everything came out awesome and at the perfect temperature, no cutting into stuff to determine doneness. My iPhone tells me when it’s done.
The iGrill is also stylish and comes in both black and white, unlike the iPhone 4. Old-style RF/analog thermometers simply don’t belong in a home in which every member of the family has an iPhone, and iPad and a Mac. What would the neighbors think about that “Mac” family down the street using 20th century tech to determine if dinner is ready?
Disclosure: While iGrill did provide a unit to Dave, he had to buy all the items to actually grill.