The $39.99 iGrill Mini from iDevices is one clever thermometer probe. You can pair it to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth Smart and let it handle dinner while you enjoy some down time. As you lounge, you can track the doneness of your food from the free app and receive alerts when it reaches the desired temp. It really removes the guesswork and some of the effort from the grilling process, which I love. I highly recommend this meat probe to anyone who wants to cook something to temperature, but would rather avoid the periodic temperature checks that are typically involved.
Hands-off grilling at your fingertips
The first thing I noticed about iGrill Mini is its diminutive size -- it measures just 2 inches by 2 inches. I also like the way it looks; not cheap and dated, but not sleek and sophisticated either. It's just a cute, compact gadget with a lot of functionality packed into its small frame. The base of the probe is made of red plastic and the top has a glossy black finish. There's also a jack on the bottom so you can attach the probe.
Connect the black magnetic base to iGrill and you can attach the probe to any magnetic surface. If your appliance doesn't have a magnetic surface, iDevices also includes a small disk with adhesive on one side and a magnet on the other. That way, you can stick the disc to a surface and then attach iGrill and it's base to the disc. Problem solved. There's even a "probe wrap" in the box so you can keep the cord neatly coiled when you're not using it.
The iGrill Mini interface is very basic. There's an on/off sensor in the middle surrounded by a border of LED lights. Push down on the center sensor button and the LEDs will flash white to let you know you've turned on the power. Then, the lights will flash blue indicating that it's ready to be paired with your iOS device.
iGrill Mini is compatible with iPhone 4S (and newer), iPad mini, iPad 3 (and newer), and the fifth-gen iPod touch (and newer). Just download the free iOS app on your device of choice to get started. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled and that iGrill Mini is nearby. It should automatically pair to your phone and show up in the device list on the app (you can have multiple iGrills set up on one app). Select iGrill Mini from the drop down menu and the LEDs on your thermometer probe should turn solid blue (indicating that it was successfully paired).
You can select from among various presets categorized by peak temperature and temperature range. Peak temperature presets include several different meats and offers an ideal "default temperature." The range temperature presets include smoke/BBQ, hot smoke, and cold smoke. If the preset you want isn't displayed in the existing list, you can create your own.
Now, you're ready to stick the probe in your food and start cooking. The beauty of iGrill Mini is in this step -- you don't need to check on your food unless you want to. The app will monitor its progress and tell you when it reaches the target temperature. iDevices claims that iGrill Mini can measure temps ranging from -22 degrees to 572 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn't test these extremes, but that suggests that you can put this thermometer in a smoker, grill, or oven on various settings without much cause for concern.
When the probe begins to measure an initial temp using a peak preset, the LEDs turn solid green. When your food is within 15 degrees of the target, they turn yellow -- within 5 degrees they turn orange. When your food reaches the desired temp, the lights flash red and it will then send out an alert on your phone. Once you acknowledge the alert, the lights turn solid red. If your food is inside the temperature range, it blinks red -- outside the range and it turns solid green.
This gadget is designed to be user-friendly. It's simple from start to finish. Two things to be aware of: the Bluetooth claims to have a 150-foot range, but, as with all Bluetooth devices, if there are a bunch of obstacles between you and the iGrill Mini, the connection might get a little wonky. Also, the battery claims to have a 150-hour life. I'm not so sure about this. I used it for several hours during testing one day and turned it on a couple of days later and got a low battery signal. I didn't do a full run-down test of a new battery, but if you're anticipating using the iGrill Mini for frequent long smokes, you'll want to stock up on spare CR2032 coin batteries. The good news is that can handle a quick battery change without requiring you to repair it with your phone.