Wednesday, 23 February 2011

iGrill Review

igrill

BBQers are obsessed with temperatures.  When we were in Kansas City, there was surprisingly little talk of sauce or rub recipes, it was all about what gear you had and how you knew it was at the correct temperature. 
The iDevices iGrill is yet another device that panders to our desire to continuously monitor temperatures without lift the lid/opening the oven door.  It’s a dual probe thermometer and alarm with a bluetooth link to your iPod touch/iPhone/iPad.  A free app runs on these devices and shows a display with one or two temperatures monitored.  Its a pretty nice looking app (screenshots from my iPad);

 photo (2)
The timer on the right gives you a countdown and a visual indicator.  When the timer fires, you hear a puny ringing sound… so you won’t be using the timer.  The temperature gauge on the left shows one or two temperatures using the dial.  There’s no option to change the visualisation or look and feel here so you’re stuck with what’s on the screen.


At the top left you can see the current temperature and target temperature.  If you click on “cooking…” you can pick your meat and desired done-ness, which links directly to a target temperature.  That’s quite cool.  The next icon down, the stopwatch (time left until the target temperature is reached) basically doesn’t work.  It kicks in about 30 seconds before time is up and usually just shows “—“.  When the target temperature is achieved, the screen judders into a fade to blue, and a pop-up declares “times up” or something.  The puny bell rings again.
At the top right you can see a graph of temperature against time.  That’s really cool.
The top bar pulls down a menu that shows you some recipes and how-to guides.  You won’t be needing that.

photo

Things look slightly different with the (optional) second probe attached.  Two sets of needles on the dial, two sets of temps and a shrunken graph.
On the remote unit itself you can see both sets of temperatures (one after the other) when you push the button, and you can set an alarm to go off on the remote itself.  The alarm is a little louder on here than the iPad but clearly useless for BBQing.  The unit is decently made but not weather sealed at all, and not intended for outside use.
The system itself works very well for the use its intended for – cooking meat in an oven.  The range on bluetooth is very decent (as usual for bluetooth), and the temperatures update fine.  That’s all it does and it does it ok.  I’ve used it a couple of times cooking roasts and will continue to do so.  I’ve heard that the bluetooth drops out sometimes with the iPhone but haven’t seen it on the iPad ever.
The iGrill software itself is a bit of a wasted opportunity.  Its a bit poorly thought through in terms of the alarm and the timer.  The software resets if you run another program (so if you look at your email, or a recipe out of the in-app browser) – you then lose the graph history (resets the graph) which is practically the coolest bit, although the target temp remains.  If you want to see that graph over time you literally have to use your iPad, etc. for nothing else.  Its definitely a wasted opportunity for BBQers.  We could have the following functionality with a tiny bit of development;
  • One probe monitors smoker temperature, the other the food so we want to see at a glance (on that huge iPad screen) both figures.  We look at it about once a minute for about 13 hours!  So really two big dials which we could change the range on or simply big numbers.
  • Alarms at different temperature ranges.  If the smoker goes below a certain value, or above a second value; alarm.  If the food goes over a certain value (but not under); alarm.
  • Big, long graphs of temp against time.  I love the graph but it’d be great to tap it and see it big, and set the scale.  “This was the time at 3am, you can see where the fire went out, this is what happened to the meat temp during this time”.  Ability to export this data say as a CSV file.  Imagine being able to save the temperatures automatically for meat and smoker for an overnight smoke, and cross reference these over the season against tasting notes!  Amazing!  Its not in here.
I’m sure someone could write an app to address these – I’ve asked iDevices for some info on the API or how to code against their bluetooth data but they’re not sharing.  Oh well.

Verdict: Fun and decent enough for indoor roasting.  Stick to the Mavericks for BBQing until someone sorts the software out.  Cuan's review of that is here.

12 comments:

  1. Great concept.... but take in to consideration that the probes are destined to fail sooner or later. If you live in Canada, IGrill requires you purchase two probes but also another $34 shipping charges by Fedex....... Not that is just downright BAD customer service in my humble opinion.

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  2. I had a probe fail, and they replaced it immediately for free... opposite experience of what Peter experienced above.

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  5. check the iCelsius.... it costs less and have better spec

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  6. Got 1 of these for Xmas, it connected once to my iPad then would not connect again. Sent e-mail to iGrill, not very helpful, told me to make sure I used new fresh batteries. Tried 3 "new, fresh" batteries still no go. Sent them another e-mail advising of problem ,,,,,??? Still waiting for reply,,, very,very poor customer support.
    Returned to store for refund,,, not worth the hassle

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  7. SPeaking of sticking to Mavericks for outdoor grilling (smoking), I happen to own a ET-73 model Maverick wireless thermometer. I've had several problems with the range (a LOT less than the 100 feet claimed by Maverick) and the probes needing to be replaced. I read a review where 5 different remote wireless thermos were tested and the Taylor brand won out, so I just ordered one.

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  9. I own one iGrill and intend to return it. The idea is good but the build quality is abysmal. Everything, from the plastic to the wiring for the probes is made from the cheapset possible materials. I've used mine three times and it's broken in several(!) places. One of the probes has stopped working, one screw has come loose and a piece of plastic has broken off so that one of the batteries does not fit properly.

    I'm using the android-version of the app and it lacks the graph function which was one of the main selling points for me, it also crashes constantly. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to connect it by bluetooth and I have to redo the step where I clear the iGrills memory of paired units each time I want to use it.

    In my humble opinion the iGrill is a complete piece of crap and overpriced to the point of absurdity based on what you actually get. Take this from someone who really wanted to like it, I mean I bought it didn't I?

    /Fred

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  10. If you have an Android device, don't waste your money on the iGrill. I regret spending the $$$. It constantly drops the connection to my Android phone, often crashes, requiring removal of batteries just to turn it off & restart. A frustrating waste of time. None of the bells & whistles dedicated to Apple products work, making this an expensive unreliable temperature guage.

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  11. There is a new competing product on KickStarter called iCelsius Wireless. It connects with WiFi instead of BlueTooth so you can actually leave the house and still know the temperature during slow cooks. It is compatible with both Android and iOS. Battery is rechargeable and there are different types of probes available for it.

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  12. The unit was OK until the black securing screws started to fall out and cannot be secured back in. IGrill support were of no help. It appears the tech screws are too short and have little grip which impairs the water seal and allows condensation into the unit

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