Review: iDevices iGrillmini
iGrillmini ($40) is iDevices' sequel to its late 2010/early 2011 product, iGrill. The core concept is the same, but the Bluetooth app-enabled grilling thermometer has been significantly redesigned, and now comes in a much smaller and more affordable package. Instead of using a large plastic rectangle to serve as the brain of the device, there's now a small, half-dollar-sized control center. It sits atop a plastic base, and has a port to connect the included thermometer probes. Using Bluetooth 4, the accessory connects to the iDevices app, and is able to let you know when grilled food is ready. A magnetic mounting disc is also included, as is a wrap for the probe cable.
While the first version of iGrill was larger than an iPhone, and ran on four AA batteries, this newer edition is only an inch and a half wide and deep, and three-quarters of an inch tall. On top of the red plastic body is a silver plastic ring, with a black face inside it. There, you’ll find a glowing rounded square, which changes color to indicate how close your food is to the proper level of doneness.
Instead of relying on user-provided batteries, a coin-cell CR2032 is included, and is easily replaceable after its 150 hour life is up. The module fits into a black, rubber coated base, which holds it at a 20° angle. Although optional, the magnetic disc can be fixed in place onto the bottom of the base with adhesive, allowing iGrillmini to attach to an oven face or other surface. The only input is a single port on the bottom edge, allowing for one probe to be connected at a time; the cable is almost four feet long.
The heart of this solution lies in the iDevices app, which is used not only for iGrillmini, but all of the company’s accessories. It allows you to have multiple devices connected at once, including more than one iGrillmini, for times when you may be cooking a multi-component meal. Once Bluetooth pairing has taken place, the main page of the app shows a histogram of the temperature over time.
The app looks quite nice, but it’s not laid out as well as it could be. Tapping on the “edit” menu brings up the ability to activate preset temperature alarms for different meats and levels of doneness. For example, you can choose “Beef - Medium Rare,” setting iGrillmini to let you know when your steak reaches 130°. Temperature ranges are available too, for when you want to keep food at a certain level. There are also options to see food that other people are making, set timers, and view recipes, all from a separate menu.
It doesn’t matter how nicely designed an accessory is if it doesn’t work well — this one works well. We tested it both with a pot of boiling water, and a steak that was first seared and then finished off in the oven. The first test showed a clear upward progression as the water heated. As for the steak, it came to a perfect medium rare, with an audio alert coming from the iPhone to let us know it was ready.
iGrillmini costs about twice as much as a standard digital kitchen thermometer, but it’s significantly more impressive than the first edition, and we find the price to be pretty reasonable given its capabilities. With an app that works well, a long lasting battery, and a small physical size, the device is right around where it should be. The addition of a temperature display on the unit itself would be appreciated, but otherwise, we find this to be a good product, and worthy of a general recommendation.