Tappecue Touch Wi-Fi BBQ Thermometer Review
Today, we’re reviewing the latest version of the Tappecue – the Tappecue Touch. After grilling, smoking, and testing, here’s what we’ve learned.
We regularly tout the virtues of using a reliable meat thermometer when cooking and grilling. A meat thermometer is the only real way of knowing the meat’s internal temperature. In other words, it’s the only thing ensuring your food is safe to eat and potentially standing between you and a nasty case of food poisoning.
When barbecuing meat on the smoker for hours at a time, you’ll want a WiFi thermometer; this way, you can monitor both the temperature of the meat and the ambient temperature of the smoker, on your phone from virtually anywhere in the world. They make for a hands-off and smart smoking experience.
The Tappecue can be considered the original WiFi BBQ thermometer. It was the first marketable WiFi device to hit the market several years ago, and it’s still largely considered one of the best in the business. Thanks to the folks at Tappecue for sending us one of these to look over.
The Touch model builds on the success of the original, but this time around adds a touch screen to make setup and use easier and more intuitive.
Tappecue Touch Wi-Fi Thermometer Buyer’s Review Guide
Let’s see how this model stacks up with the original Tappecue and the other WiFi thermometers out there.
Features and Overview
What’s so special about the Tappecue Touch, and what does it come with?
- 4 Probe Channels for monitoring meat and ambient temperatures (Can accommodate 8 probes with splitters).
- 6” long stainless-steel Thermistor probes with 6’ long cables
- Touchscreen display for easy setup and monitoring
- WiFi connectivity
- Offline mode with 180-foot range
- Water-resistant, weatherproof build
- Rechargeable 2400Mah battery
- Smartphone alerts, smart features, graphs and logs
Unboxing: Build, Quality and Design
The Tappecue Touch comes neatly packaged, in a nice, neat cardboard box. Upon opening it, you’ll find the thermometer device itself;four color-coded probes with 6’ long cables, each neatly wrapped up; a stylus for using the touchscreen; and a charger.
The device itself is slightly-larger-than-palm-sized, and constructed out of heavy-duty, durable plastic. It feels very tough – more so than some of the other devices we’ve tested. There’s no flex or give in the product, and we have no doubt that it can handle a few tumbles and falls of a few feet, off counters and onto hard floors. Just don’t go throwing it around.
Tappecue says the device body is waterproof and weather-resistant, just in case it gets left outside in the rain or water is spilled on it. (Tappecue also says the probes are double-insulated for accuracy and durability in high-humidity environments). There are also two small plastic “feet” that allow it to stand neatly upright.
On the side there are 4 ports for plugging in probes, as well as one for charging with the included charger. On the front, you have a small touchscreen and large power button; to turn on, simply hold down the power button until it illuminates green, and the device will power up.
The Touchscreen: The Good and Bad
The touchscreen is a big improvement over the original Tappecue model.
The old had a small screen that displayed probe temperatures and other basic info in plain text, but that was it. The new touchscreen displays that same info, but in an aesthetically pleasing and accessible way; each temperature probe is color-coded to match the physical probes.
Battery life, WiFi connectivity status, setup, options and more are also displayed on the touchscreen.
Our main gripe with the touch screen is that it’s unresponsive and not sensitive enough; hitting the right buttons and parts of the screen can be hard, even when using the included stylus. So during setup, it takes far too long to punch in your email and WiFi password – much longer than it really should.
The Battery & Charging
The Tappecue Touch runs off a 2400 Mah battery. Originally, it had a battery life of between 12-14 hours, but as of November 2018, Tappecue was updating the firmware to bump the battery life to over 25 hours on a single charge. That’s an almost 100% improvement – which certainly isn’t bad.
For our part, we can say we’ve left it on for at least 12 hours before it started to display low battery. Even after that, however, it was useable for several hours without a charge.
Charging is itself quite simple: just plug in the included AC charger. We’d love to see USB charging as an option, but the regular wall charger works fine. It’s also nice to be able to charge the device while using it.
We also noticed that the screen stays on the entire time the device is on; that’s where most of the battery life likely goes. While being able to quickly glance at the temps displayed on the screen, an auto-shut off while in use would bump battery life up significantly.
However, a battery is still a big improvement over the original Tappecue, which required a power outlet nearby to run.
How Does It Work? Setup and Operation
Setup isn’t difficult but could be simpler. Power up the device, navigate to WiFi and then Connect, select your WiFI network and enter the password. You’ll be required to enter your email and create a password and account for your device; when you download the app onto your iPhone or Android, you will then connect with the device using that same account and password.
It’s not a complicated process, taking about the same effort as most WiFi thermometers. But it can be difficult to navigate, so you’ll likely need to follow the included instructions.
Once you’ve figured that out, plug in the probes, select Start New Session inside the app, and you’re ready to go.
There is also an option called Offline Mode, for when a WiFi network is unavailable. Essentially, the Tappecue transmits its own network that you can connect to your phone, allowing you to view and monitor temperatures from up to 180 feet away. Offline Mode is clunky and a pain to setup, but it’s a nice feature when you have it figured out.
Putting The Tappecue to Work: Probes, Temperatures and Accuracy
Once we’d figured out how to set the Tappecue Touch up, it was time to test it out. First, we tested each of the probes in boiling water to see how accurate they were; right on the money, giving us readings of 212°F. We also compared these to a handy instant read thermometer in the kitchen for accuracy, and the two were within 1-2°F of each other consistently.
The Tappecue comes with 4 probes, but as of April 2019, it can now accommodate 8 probes at a time – thanks to their new splitters, which allow you to plug two probes into each of the 4 ports.
With 8 probes, the possibilities are endless – you could monitor the pit temperature in multiple places (or multiple pits) while still keeping an eye on the internal temperature of several roasts or steaks.
We could see that being extremely useful for offset smokers, as they are so long and often have wild temperature discrepancies from one end to the other. If you’re competing in competitions, the extra probes and capabilities could be quite welcome.
But while the splitters can be useful tool, they are also somewhat finicky and unreliable. For them to read accurately, the probes and the splitter need to be plugged in BEFORE turning on the Touch; put them in afterwards and it will display wildly inaccurate temps. This seems to be a common problem with Tappecue models.
Also, if the probes are moved around when using the splitter, they will have wild temp swings in either direction, and take a 20 or 30 seconds to stabilize back to proper readings.
We don’t know why this is; maybe a glitch in the Tappecue firmware or a problem with the physical splitter connection. But it can be disruptive and we’d like to see it fixed.
Also new for 2019 are Tappecue’s Dual Sensor and Extra Care Mini probes. The Dual Sensor probes contain the standard temperature sensor in the tip, for monitoring meat’s internal temperature, as well as an ambient sensor located in the opposite end of the probe. When the probe is inserted properly into the brisket, the ambient sensor will take the pit temperature without the need for a second probe.
(Note: the Dual Sensor probes are not compatible with the splitters).
The Extra Care probes are designed for smaller cuts of meat (like fish or steaks) as well as to fit more comfortably into your backyard grill or oven than their full-size counterparts (which can be long and sometimes unwieldy).
The probes are thermistors, and not the thermocouples used on instant read thermometers. Thermistors are the less expensive of two and aren’t quite as fast or precise as thermocouples; they often take a few seconds longer to readout and are often only accurate to within 2-3°F of actual temperature.
For smoking purposes, however, thermistors are more than capable. Internal temperatures tend to rise much more slowly during smoking than cooking directly over heat, and the cut of meat is much larger – better absorbing any inconsistencies. If you were using it as an instant read, you’d probably want the speed and accuracy of a thermocouple, but for larger roasts and briskets, a thermistor is fine.
And really, we’re talking about a difference of a few seconds in read time and 1-2°F in temperature – small numbers that don’t mean much over the course of an 8-12-hour smoke.
When using the splitters or the dual sensor probes, the Tappecue will display both temperatures in the appropriate corner on the display, with the different temperatures labeled 1A and 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. Easy! In the app, each will appear as its own probe, again labeled 1, 1B, 2, 2B etc.
Once you’ve got the probes ready to go, it’s time for some real barbecuing. To test out the Tappecue, we fired up the back grill with a 2-zone setup, seasoned up a nice brisket, and put this device to work. One probe was placed in the grill and served as our ambient probe, while the other was placed deep inside the middle of the brisket.
The probe cables are 6 feet long, which gave plenty of range to put them where we needed them. With the device sitting right next to the grill, you could even say they were too long, and they get easily tangled up with each other.
Using the App: Tappecue Touch Features, Smart Alerts, & Logs
When it comes to using the Tappecue, you’ll find the app offers standard smart thermometer features.
As you start a cooking session, you’ll have the option to name each probe as well as choose the kind of meat you’re cooking – brisket, pork butt, beef, etc. The app will then load preset minimum and maximum temperatures for those meats – 180°F to 195°F for Brisket, for example.
Once those are set up and you’re good to go, you’ll see each probe’s current temperature displayed, as well as a small graph showing temperature changes over time. Probes can be quickly toggled with a swipe, and notifications can be turned on and off via the small bell icon in the corner; when alerts are on, the app sends push notifications to your phone when the smoker has left the specified temperature range or the food has reached an internal temperature of 195°F.
Unlike a Bluetooth thermometer, the Tappecue does not update temperatures instantly while cooking; it communicates through the cloud first, before sending temperatures to your phone. To update the temperature in the app, you need to refresh it manually – though it will automatically update when you lock and unlock your phone.
Other than that, the Tappecue Touch has most of the most tried-and-true Wifi Thermometer features. Old sessions can be saved in the Session book, and then you can export and share graphs and logs to the Tappecue cloud or to your email for later use.
You can also change a variety of settings such as temperature units and even notification sounds. The app is overall easy-to-use and definitely an improvement over the older version, though we wouldn’t say it is as intuitive or streamlined as some other apps we’ve used.
Playing with the API: Customizing the Tappecue
Tappecue also has a public API, which the developers and code-literate among us can use to create their own scripts and clients and further customize their device. For example, some users have modified the Tappecue Touch to work with Google Home or Alexa, turning it a true “smart” device integrated with your home automation. Another was able to create a relay that controlled the smoker temperature using a Raspberry Pi.
This might be too complicated for most of us, but if you like playing around with code as much as you like barbecuing, the Tappecue can solve both those itches.
Tappecue VS Other Thermometers
The Tappecue Touch is a quality, reliable WiFi thermometer that will help up your smoking game, streamlining the process while unchaining you from the pit. To get an overview of all the options out there for a meat geek like yourself, you can hope on over to our detected thermometer page.
The build quality is solid enough to easily withstand the rigors of everyday use as well as the occasional exposure to rain and hot, flying grease. The new touchscreen is nice to have, as is the new integrated battery – it doesn’t need to be plugged in constantly, as with the old model.
There are a few things we don’t like about it. The touchscreen, as mentioned, is clunky and difficult to use – even when using the included stylus. Typing in passwords and email addresses is a pain and setting up the device and connecting to WiFi takes too long, as does getting into offline mode; the process is clunky, and we’d like to see it streamlined in the future.
Once you’ve got it setup, however, the app is easy enough to use. We would also like to see longer battery life, preferably by introducing a way to turn off the display while monitoring via your phone.
Also, we’re not sure what’s up with the splitters glitching out. We like the added capability for competitions and large smokes, but the inconsistent temp swings and errors the splitters can have (if not plugged in before turning on) is definitely a drawback.
Overall, the Tappecue Touch is a solid update to a well-known WiFi smart thermometer. Aside from the setup and the glitchy splitters, the device itself is well-built and reliable, with accurate temperature readings and plenty of capable features.
PROS & CONS of the Tappecue Touch
- Touchscreen display shows vital info, at-a-glance temperatures
- Durable, waterproof build
- Integrated battery with convenient charger
- App, smart features easy to use
- Splitters allow for up to 8 probes
- Reliable, accurate probes; wide range of probes.
- Offline Mode with 180-foot range
- 25-hour battery life with firmware update
- Public API for customizing functions
- Setup is difficult and clunky
- Touchscreen is clunky and unresponsive
- Splitters are glitchy