Brookstone's Grill Alert talking remote thermometer is a great addition to any summertime BBQ. The device, which includes a base station, a remote thermometer, and a probe with a wireless transmitter (operating on the 433MHz band), monitors your food so that you don't have to--and it's a snap to use. Just set up the base station, connect the probe to the transmitter, and turn on both the base and the handheld unit, though you'll need to provide your own batteries (2 AA for the thermometer and 2 AAA for the transmitter). We wish Brookstone would throw in the power cells for this $75 device, but we still think it's a worthy grill companion.
Getting started is simple. Just begin to grill your food, insert the probe, choose the type of meat (beef, lamb, veal, hamburger, pork, turkey, chicken, and fish, though--alas--no turducken) you're cooking, and walk away to enjoy your game of lawn darts. You can either attach the thermometer on your person with the handy belt clip or set it in the base stand. The actual remote thermometer unit is a tad too large--you'll be spotted wearing it from several yards away. But it has an easy-to-read digital display and is backlit for nighttime usage. The Grill Alert lets you select how well done you prefer your beef, lamb, and veal, though all other meat selections default to the USDA guidelines.
When the temperature is within five degrees of the specified cook-to setting, the remote will alert you with a "your entrée is almost ready" voice prompt. Likewise, when the meat is done, the device says "your entrée is ready." If you are overcooking the meat, the unit will also warn you by beeping continually until you remove the probe. The digital display shows both desired and actual temperature, as well as a bar image to track cooking progress. Additionally, you can set the degree units to either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
Since the thermometer is wireless, you can wander away from the transmitter and still keep tabs on your food. Brookstone claims a range of around 300 feet, but we were able to get only 200 feet away before losing the signal. If you walk out of range, the device beeps repeatedly until you're back within reach.
We noticed some shortcomings that prevent the Grill Alert from being the perfect grilling companion. Most annoyingly, there's no timer, so you'll still need to keep a watch handy if you're timing a basting. Also, the alert is not particularly loud, even at the highest setting (the default); if you have music blasting, you might miss the "your entrée is ready" notification. We would have preferred the inclusion of a vibrate mode as well.