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iDevices iGrill Mini review: Bluetooth-enabled probe makes grilling deliciously hands-off

You'll relish the smart features offered on iDevices compact thermometer probe.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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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.

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iDevices iGrill Mini

The Good

The <b>iGrill Mini</b> is simple to set up on your iOS device. It lets you cook your food to temp without the bother of having to check on its progress manually.

The Bad

iDevices claims that its probe has a 150-foot range via Bluetooth Smart, but I had connectivity issues at shorter distances. I wish it had a backup charger for those times when you don't have a CR2032 coin battery handy.

The Bottom Line

The $39.99 iGrill Mini is a well-designed gadget that works. If you like the idea of hands-off cooking, this pint-sized probe is for you.

Heating things up with iDevices iGrill Mini (pictures)

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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.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton

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.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton

A $79.99 iGrill is also offered by iDevices. The iGrill is larger and comes with two cooking probes. It claims to have a 200-foot Bluetooth range, takes four AA batteries, can be used as a kitchen timer and works on both Android and iOS devices. In May 2014, iDevices is also shipping its brand new $99.99 iGrill2. It will offer a 150-foot Bluetooth range, a four-probe capacity, and a digital display. So, if you like the idea of iGrill Mini, but want something with a larger probe capacity, iGrill and iGrill2 are also options worth your consideration.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Performance
I used iGrill Mini to roast a whole chicken in the oven and to smoke a pork shoulder on the grill. We used thermocouples and our data logger alongside the probe to compare results. The probe was always very close to the temperature of the thermocouples. That's good news. It offers neat features and registers accurate temperatures.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton

I roasted the chicken at 375 degrees in the GE Profile Built-In Double Convection Wall Oven PT9550SFSS and selected the chicken preset listed in the app. Then, we added the thermocouples and the iGrill Mini probe to the chicken. The surface of this oven isn't magnetic, so I used the sticky adhesive magnet and then attached the magnet base to the sticky magnet. Next, I added the chicken to the oven, and made sure the probe was attached to the jack -- pretty simple.

Then, I let it cook. At most I was 30 to 40 feet from the oven and the app worked flawlessly. It displayed the temperature graph and let me know when it was finished. It also stayed close to the temperatures registered by the thermocouples. iGrill Mini success!

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Next, we smoked a pork shoulder in the grill. We went with propane here, with the idea of ensuring a more consistent temperature throughout the smoke (otherwise we'd use charcoal). We let the grill get to 225 degrees and I attached the iGrill Mini's magnetic base directly to the grill. I also created my own preset, since the existing pork shoulder preset had a default temp of 160 degrees (that's better for a pork roast than pulled pork). Once again, it worked incredibly well. I did have more trouble with the Bluetooth connection during this test, but it would always work again after restarting the app.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Conclusion
iGrill Mini is definitely worth the $39.99. I do wish there was an app for Android users, the coin battery is slightly annoying, and Bluetooth might give you trouble in more challenging receiving environments. But, this handy thermometer probe lets you make food cooked to "ideal" specifications without having to be heavily hands-on throughout the cooking process. So, all of you folks cooking something "low and slow" overnight can stop worrying about checking the temp at 4 a.m. That alone makes this device worthwhile.

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iDevices iGrill Mini

Score Breakdown

Performance 9Features 8Design 7Usability 8