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iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini review: This small meat thermometer is big on smarts

iDevices' Bluetooth-enabled Kitchen Thermometer Mini lets you know that your food is finished from up to 150 feet away.

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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 $40 iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini, which also sells for £35 in the UK and AU$50 in Australia, is a small Bluetooth-enabled meat thermometer. Pair it to your phone, download the Android or iOS app, and receive alerts when your food reaches its target temperature.

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7.9

iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini

The Good

The $40 iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini uses Bluetooth tech to send real-time status updates straight to your phone.

The Bad

You'll need to read the manual to make sense of the thermometer's LED indicator lights. It's powered by a CR2032 coin battery, which isn't exactly a household staple.

The Bottom Line

iDevices' Kitchen Thermometer Mini is a solid thermometer that delivers smart functionality and hands-free convenience at an entry-level price.

There's a limit to your freedom, though -- the Bluetooth range is capped at 150 feet (45 meters). And frequent use and/or forgetting to turn the thermometer off after each use will drain its tiny CR2032 coin battery quickly.

While $40 is a reasonable price for an entry-level smart thermometer, there are plenty of single-probe thermometers without connected capabilities that sell for less. Even so, I'd happily pay $40 for the Kitchen Thermometer Mini -- it delivers excellent results without all the tedious vigilance that's typically required when cooking food to temperature.

Warm up to iDevices' Kitchen Thermometer Mini (pictures)

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First impressions

The Kitchen Thermometer Mini is very similar to iDevices' $40 iGrill Mini that I reviewed last year. It measures 1.75 inches long by 1.75 inches wide by 1.25 inches tall. It has a glossy white plastic finish and weighs a mere 1.4 ounces. This model comes with a single probe and a single probe wrap for no-fuss storage.

A ring of color-changing LEDs alert you to any status changes. A solid green light means that it's just starting the cooking process. The interface turns solid yellow when it's within 15 degrees of its target temp, orange when it's within 5 degrees of its target temp, and red when your food is done. A proximity sensor causes the LED display to "wake up" when you're nearby and "sleep" when you're away from the kitchen.

If the thermometer is turned on but not connected to a probe or paired to your phone, it will automatically turn off after five minutes. If it's turned on and connected to a probe, but isn't paired to your phone, it will automatically turn off after eight hours. But, if it's turned on, connected to a probe, and paired to your phone, it will stay on until it runs out of juice.

This model relies on a CR2032 coin cell battery for operation. This type of battery isn't hard to find in stores, but it also isn't a particularly common one to keep on hand at home. iDevices claims that each CR2032 battery lasts for up to 150 hours -- but that's only if you remember to switch it off after each use. Since this device doesn't have an overt digital display, it might be easy to forget to turn it off, causing it to kill the battery much more quickly.

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The Kitchen Thermometer and Kitchen Thermometer Mini side-by-side. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Aside from the unique features outlined above, the device's functionality is identical to that of the brand's $80 Kitchen Thermometer . It has the same 48-inch-long thermometer probe and is compatible with the same Android or iOS iDevices apps.

The app works with Android phones running 4.3 or later and iOS devices running iOS 7 or later. The specific iOS devices include: iPad Mini, iPad 3 and newer, iPhone 4s and newer, and fifth generation iPod Touch and newer. Bluetooth must be enabled on your connected device for the app and thermometer to communicate.

Taking a closer look

The setup was very quick and straightforward. I made sure Bluetooth was enabled on my iPhone 5 and opened the app. (I had originally downloaded it last year to test the iGrill Mini.) From there, I turned the thermometer on, and it immediately connected to the app. Just connect the probe and you can begin taking temperature readings. You can pair up to four probes simultaneously, meaning four separate Kitchen Thermometer Minis or any four-probe combination of iDevices' product line.

While the setup took roughly 2 minutes, I don't find the app to be particularly well designed. It provides all of the information you need to track your food from your phone, but it doesn't have an intuitive flow.

When you first connect the probe, you will see "Kitchen Thermometer Mini," "Probe 1," and "No Preset" displayed on the landing page with its current temperature reading. Unfortunately, you can't set a preset from there. Instead, you have to click on the landing page to go to the more detailed graph page that tracks temperature against time. On that page, there's a small, easy-to-miss section that reads "Set preset."

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The iDevices app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Click again to see a full-screen view of the graph. The full-screen graph may be larger, but it doesn't label the product or the probe number at all in landscape view. So, if you have two different Kitchen Thermometer Minis and are using them at the same time, you may have to switch to portrait view or revert to the smaller graph (like the one pictured above) to keep track of which probe's temperature readings you're reviewing.

I like that iDevices provides a database of common presets. The peak temperature categories include beef, fish, pork, lamb, and poultry. So, if you want to make swordfish, you simply have to scroll through the presets to the fish section and click on "swordfish." iDevices lists 125 degrees as an optimal temperature for swordfish, so when the probe registers 125 degrees, it will send you a notification.

The temperature ranges include smoke/BBQ, hot smoke, and cold smoke. These preset categories work a little bit differently. iDevices will notify you if your BBQ goes below 215 degrees or above 230 degrees so you can more easily maintain a steady cooking temperature. You can also create your own presets, set timers, and export your graphs.

To quickly scroll through the app's preset information, your thermometer must be turned on and connected to a probe. iDevices is assuming that you're about to start cooking, but what if you want to brainstorm a recipe in advance? You'll be wasting the Mini's battery needlessly.

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Roasted chicken test. Ry Crist/CNET

I reviewed the Kitchen Thermometer Mini alongside the Kitchen Thermometer and used two lab-grade thermocouple probes connected to a data logger as my accuracy benchmarks. I convection-roasted a whole, butterflied chicken at 350 degrees to a peak temperature of 165 degrees and a pork tenderloin at 450 degrees to a peak temperature of 140 degrees. (The iDevices app gives you two options: medium pork roast cooked to 140 degrees and a well-done pork roast cooked to 160 degrees.)

I made sure that the probe was placed near the thermocouples to get accurate comparison readings. The probe's readings stayed within 4 degrees of the nearest thermocouple's readings. In other words, you can feel confident about the Kitchen Thermometer Mini's precision.

I used Wi-Fi during the chicken test and LTE during the pork test and never experienced a connectivity interruption -- even at the max Bluetooth range of 150 feet. The graphs were clearly displayed, the temperatures updated regularly, and I received a push notification when the probe reached its designated peak temperature.

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A pork tenderloin cooked to temp using the Kitchen Thermometer Mini. Megan Wollerton/CNET

The only performance problem you might encounter with this model could be applied to any single-probe thermometer. If you're preparing a larger cut of meat and want to make sure it's evenly cooked, a multi-probe thermometer like iDevices' own Kitchen Thermometer might prove more accurate -- that's particularly true if the thickness varies a lot. Shop accordingly.

Conclusion

iDevices' $40 Kitchen Thermometer Mini is a very good smart thermometer entry-point. While the CR2032 battery isn't ideal and the single probe could be limiting, the temperature readings were accurate and the app was responsive. While plenty of non-smart single-probe thermometers sell for less, you're really paying for the app integration and the hands-free convenience it affords.

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7.9

iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Mini

Score Breakdown

Performance 8.5Features 8.5Design 7Usability 7
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