One of the things that became apparent at CES 2014 was that there is nearly no aspect of our everyday lives that will not be connected to a smartphone in one way or the other within the next two years. We’ve got remote household monitoring, cell-phone baby monitoring, Quirky has a WiFi enabled egg monitor, we’ve got watches that monitor your vital statistics, so why not a Bluetooth meat thermometer and app in the form of the Oregon Scientific Grill Right Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer?
Some of you who know me might be wondering why a 31-year vegetarian would be grilling with or without the aid of a Smartphone-connected remote temperature device, and that’s because I evidently make the greatest burgers in the world … most likely because they’re cooked with irony.
As for the monitor, I was contacted by a PR firm and decided I wanted to see if there was any real reason to get a Bluetooth BBQ monitor. It seemed sort of pointless at first thought, then the idea to see if there was a use for such a thing grew on me.
OK, here’s why you might want a remote smartphone enabled BBQ monitor: you can go and talk with your guests at a party and be notified by your smartphone when your grill stuff reaches the right temperature.
You can also pretty much guarantee that someone’s not going to get salmonella from undercooked chicken, and when you want medium-rare and you’re a colorblind vegetarian you can get a notification that it’s probably not pink anymore.
There are reasons this technology exists. However, on to the review of this particular device.
The Oregon Scientific Grill Right Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer comes in a package that takes some serious cutting skills to get into it. The package is the second or third most annoying package I think I’ve ever attempted to open. I ended up having to get a serrated knife to slice into it, so be aware if you’re attempting to get it open, instructions read, and out in the daylight for a photo shoot/cookout, you’ll need some time.
The thing comes with 2 AA batteries, a metal probe, and the base unit. The instructions state to put batteries in, press the recessed reset button, and go on with operation. I didn’t have anything handy to reach the button as I don’t keep paper clips around, and as such I had to run with it not reset for the first portion of the test.
First thing you learn is that there are two probe ports on the side covered by a rubber thingie. The device comes with one probe, so choose whichever you want. The next involves Bluetooth 4.0 pairing.
You’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Your phone has to support Bluetooth 4.0 low power mode/Bluetooth Smart, there are relatively few phones in operation at the moment that actually support this, although most new phones do, so make sure yours is one of them.
Once paired, the phone app and the thermometer should sync up. At this point you should be able to wander some amount of distance (150 feet is the claim,) away and still be connected to the base unit.
The probe goes into your BBQ, the base unit sits outside, and you can monitor temperatures either by looking at the display on the base unit or the app on your phone. There’re settings for what you want to cook, or what temperature you want it to reach. I think it covers pretty much any BBQ meat and any level of cooking you might need.
The Oregon Scientific Grill Right Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer problems began
The second issue I ran into on all runs I did with it was that every time I move the base unit slightly a button on the front would get pressed. This was always at an angle so this shouldn’t have happened, but I switched inputs and pressed a couple of other things simply from sliding it around slightly. The face is hyper sensitive and moving triggered it and shouldn’t.
The third issue involved the temperature not changing. It was sitting at 132 on the app and 131 on the base unit and had not changed in two minutes. I pulled the probe out and placed it in the ~75 degree air and it still didn’t change. I poured a small amount of water on the thing and still no movement. The base unit had completely locked up and no buttons responded.
I pulled the batteries, put them back in, got an eyeglass kit and used it to press the incredibly recessed button thinking perhaps the issues were it actually needed that reset I hadn’t been able to accomplish at first.
The device came back up, plugged it back into the patty, and it claimed the temperature was 64 degrees. left it running for a bit, unplugged the probe, put the batteries back in and it started working normally again after claiming 64 for a few minutes. I’ll point out it was probably 75 degrees at this point and it’d been reading 120+ for a while.
Wandered about and talked to my guests who were still making fun of a bluetooth meat thermometer but gradually warming to the idea that I could be away from the grill and notified when I needed to do something. I pulled up the app to show and noticed that the temperature on it had no correlation to the temperature the base unit was reporting. 122f vs 138f at that point. The app wasn’t working.
Reset the app and it worked, I wanted to do a distance test (it claims up to 150 feet,) but at this point I’d run into so many delays working with this thing that all the food was cooked and I had to get it transferred and the grill cleaned up. I can tell that it works at least 60 feet out, but without a constantly fluctuating temperature and an assistant to yell the base unit’s temp it’s a bit difficult.
I think the idea is actually good. A couple of weeks ago I would have laughed at the idea being anything more than Bluewashing (shoving low powered sensors into everything,) but if it worked it’s a pretty good idea.
Unfortunately for me it didn’t work properly with issues with the base unit, the app, and I couldn’t trust the sensor.
I’m going to give it another try another day, use batteries I know are good and wait for an app update from Oregon Scientific as at least one of the problems was app related. If the only issue had been the face plate being too sensitive I’d live with it and be happy to not have to keep checking the temperature.
At the moment, with my experience, this is not something I can recommend as I spent more time trying to figure out if the thing was still working than I saved.
The Oregon Scientific Grill Right Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer is available from Amazon for $48.62.