|1. BlueDot||$$$$||★★★★☆||SEE PRICE|
|2. Inkbird||$$$||★★★★||SEE PRICE|
|3. AJY||$||★★★★||SEE PRICE|
|4. ThermoPro||$$||★★★☆||SEE PRICE|
|5. Uvistare||$||★★★☆||SEE PRICE|
|6. Soraken||$$||★★★||SEE PRICE|
|7. Grilleye||$$$$$||★★★||SEE PRICE|
How We Rated
Our goal is to get you information you can use to make a good buying decision, and we have distilled it down to a five star rating covering specific aspects of the devices. You will find these ratings at the beginning of each section. We explored a variety of characteristics surrounding what we like to call our four ‘E’s.
- Ergonomics will cover the design features, physical attributes and other attributes in the handling of the device.
- Ease of use, which with these is heavily dependent on the App, is it intuitive, does it makes sense and is it functional.
- Effectiveness which covers Quality of build, display and durability.
- Lastly is the experience, giving us an Overall rating for the device. This is the broad view of everything we have put together. This also is where we bring in consideration of the price to value equation that each of us needs to consider when it is time to open our wallets and buy the product.
After these ratings for each product, we’ll offer our general observations, a quick pro/con list and a summary of what you will get using this product in a grill, oven, or smoker. With that summary is our ultimate recommendation.
This is the part that should be really exciting. The whole point of this is to be untethered from your barbecuing activities while you work on other things, or spend time with guests and family. In that respect the goal is accomplished. In general you can toss it in a smoker and ‘set and forget’ knowing that you will be alerted when thresholds have been reached. Most of these devices also say that you can use the base unit without the app. They are correct; unless you want to toggle from the default of Celsius to the US format of Fahrenheit.
Lots of unoriginality
All the devices use the same software except for the BlueDot and ThermoPro.
Many devices, one framework. This was the biggest surprise in testing. We find that the BlueDot is the only device that features it’s own branded application. Although, GrillEye manages to display their logo upon launching the carbon-copied app. Oddly, half of them (Inkbird, AJY and Chugod) do not allow you to change the alert tone. To compound this, the alert tone that they used is very abrasive.
UI/UX (User Experience / User Interface)
When you open the app it will show you a screen with slots for each probe numbered one through six with a colored circle. This coloration can be changed to match the coloration of the probe, if you have that. All of your active probes will display their current temperature. Each slot for the probes offers either a timer and/or a temperature threshold at which point you are alerted.
You can also use the settings to tell you when you are either above or below the range you designate. Presets included are typical meats you’d cook in an oven or grill; beef, veal and lamb, all of which can be set to your preferred doneness. Pork, chicken, turkey and fish are all preset at recommended temps for doneness.
Lastly, the apps will show you a graph of the temperatures that you used in your cooking. This part gets mixed reviews. You have to look at the data before you exit the app, it will not be saved nor can you save it except with a screen shot. If you are doing serious recipe development or just tweaking your technique, you really should be able to save this information, so that part is somewhat disappointing.
Breaking the mold
If you’re looking for more when it comes to data, you’ll want to go with the BlueDot or check out smart Wi-Fi thermometers.
The ThermoWorks app is not only unique, it’s comprehensive. You’ll discover cloud storage for cooking data along with the ability to export this information for your records along with any notes you want to enter. They don’t populate as many pre-sets, but it is very user friendly to get the temp ranges you are using. You will see all of this reflected in the write up and evaluation of this product.
These guys brought their ‘A’ game to play in this product. It helps that they are a known manufacture of all things temperature related, and savvy to the commercial world of cooking. It shows right out of the gate, their base unit is sturdy with a solid feel to it. This base unit is the only one that seems as if you got caught in a light rain it would survive. It came with the two ‘AAA’ batteries installed, pull the little plastic tab and you are off to the races.
There’s a small, round, backlit display that shows both current and target temperatures. On the front are two navigation buttons for setting the alarm, and on the back is a power button — and that’s it. No frills.
It has two firm magnet dots on the back that hold it securely in place, and a sturdy plastic arm that will allow it to be stood up. The probe also has a bit more industrial feel to it, with a silicone handle and wire wrapping to prevent the cable kinking at the junction to the probe.
Even the instructions start at a higher level. Most of the reviewed items were meat centric. We’re good with that, it is right where we live, that’s for sure. However, these guys also bring poaching, boiling, baking and candy temperatures to their chart, reminding us that the side dishes can help make a meal. These forms of cooking all benefit from accuracy in the temps involved. This is the first time we’ve seen this type of product list finished bread temps, almost exclusively a commercial baking approach.
Bluetooth synced up easily, and the Thermoworks app was obviously written to a higher standard than the others we tested. This device only has one probe, which at a price point above the average, made it spendier for what you get. In our opinion it is worth it. The app alone reflects a better geek approach to cooking and use. It will easily accommodate more devices if you choose to expand.
It also records your cooking for archive and recipe generation/documentation, allowing you to export that data to other sources. In that respect it is in a unique group.
- Made by pros for the pro (and we up and comers)
- Good solid feel
- Only device in the roundup that is water resistant
- Broader cooking horizons
- Single device
- Alarm doesn’t mute
- App doesn’t include pre-set foods
Summary – Best Overall
You’ll find easy to operate multi button features that allow you to scroll through the device essentials, all housed in a splash proof casing with an easy to read display. The probe has a 48” slightly heavier cable with an industrial feel. The app is very sophisticated, lacks only pre-sets, but with data management and cloud services you’ll be able to geek out while improving your cooking game. For more information you can read a full review of the Dot here.
Inkbird is one of the original Bluetooth devices we had the pleasure of testing when we conducted our first roundup and testing of these devices in 2017. At that time, the Inkbird IBT-4XS performed well enough to secure our second place ranking, and here, the IBT-6XS with its new design and added capabilities did it again. This is a product that comes very well equipped right out of the box.
We like the battery included, at 1000mAh it lasts well, charges easily with the included USB type C cable. Although this presents an interesting aspect of this device. It has a magnetic base that you need to remove from the display unit when you want to recharge it. What we are not sure about is; when you would want to remove it in general? It seems unnecessary. It does tilt the display to a nice angle for viewing and has a strong enough magnet to hold it in place well, so it is a well-made base unit.
The device itself is not water proof, but seems to have a sold build quality and ideal for oven use, and solid choice for out at the grill.
The app is run of the mill, another clone in the group of simple expediters of information.
The cables and probes are where the Inkbird begins to shine again. The probes have solid metal grips, rough enough to grip well, even with hot mitts. On the downside, they are not color coded and they may be too heavy to leave in a thinner steak or chop. That being said, they are well made. As are the braided stainless steel wrapped cables, both high quality and weight, they should have a long life span. This is the only unit we tested that included an ambient thermometer in the assortment. While a probe will function for air temperature testing, a sensor built specifically for that purpose often works better. In general the probes were not the fastest we tested, nor the slowest, they got accurate reads in a reasonable amount of time. Interestingly the directions make it a point to emphasize getting the probes fully inserted to get accurate reads. Good advice, because their ports are tight and it is very easy not to get full contact without making certain they click into place. Once seated, they stay and get the information to the base accurately.
- Rechargeable batteries
- Assorted probes of high quality
- Accurate and easy to read
- No color coding on probes
- Stiff port contact can be hard to fully connect
- Must remove base to charge
- We hoped this model would be water resistant but it is not. In fairness, none of the other devices except for the BlueDOT are.
SUMMARY – Best Buy
As it is, this device comes well equipped and shows very well in every category of performance. With an overall solid build quality and good design features, we expect this to deliver a quality cooking experience for quite a while.
All in all, the IBT-6XS is a solid choice for the money. Our major knock is Inkbird already has a line of mobile applications for other smart thermostatic devices that they manufacture, they shouldn’t be subject to licensing the same run-of-the-mill application that all most of all the other models in our roundup use.
If you don’t need Bluetooth specifically you may be best spending about another 20 bucks and getting the IBBQ-4T which is their upgrade Smart Wi-Fi model (see our review on it in our Best of Wi-Fi Devices article).
This is another unit that provides a more complete package with 6 probes, two clips and the base unit. The base unit has both a magnet (which could stand to be a bit stronger) and a wire stand. Being in the lower price tier, they have done a pretty good job with is unit.
They truly color coded the sensors with a bead attached at the sensor and the plastic of the plug‘s base both matching. You can set up your cooking and be able to tell, as you plug them in, which lead is which.
In our testing it was one of the first to set off the alarm at reaching temperature, along with the quickest at sensing temperature and displaying it at the base. It was also unerring in accuracy of temps…almost. The instructions said the probes were not dishwasher safe, no mention of immersion. After using this for smoking, we threw the sensors into a pan of hot soapy water before scrubbing. Three of the six sensors failed after that…but is it user error? We’ll leave that to you to ponder.
It is also in the group of cloned apps. With virtually identical aspects to other tested. One difference, and not a good one, is that you are stuck with one alarm tone at one volume. This is purely hypothetical; listening to music through another app at a fun volume and the alarm is tripped. Time to peel everyone in the room off the ceiling and calm down the dog. Adjustability would be nice.
- Accurate and quick to sense changes
- Truly color coded sensors
- Complete package
- Instructions could be more explicit
- App needs alarm tone and volume control
Summary — Budget Buy
If AJY had a better app we would rate this even higher. But you will get an easy to use versatile product at a nice price point. It combines all the basic features that operate easily from the one button control, while adding some things like the color coding probes and rapid reads that show it has gone a step beyond some other products.
These folks came to work. The first thing you notice is that there are two units; base and receiver, they even included the batteries to get up and running. Hold the phone! That’s right, this is not even a “Bluetooth” device, why is it here? This is a device that accomplishes the same as the Bluetooth units, only it operates more like a walkie-talkie closed system. As a result we felt we had to at least look at this option when looking at devices that allow remote sensing of your cooking. It is simpler in some fashions, making it a viable option for the less tech savvy, or perhaps those who are just tired of driving everything with their phone.
Both units are rubberized on the outside for an easy grip, probably even when wet. However, the directions explicitly say do not leave in the rain, neither unit is waterproof. Interestingly, they say the same about the probes. While almost all of the units tested say not safe for the dishwasher, this is one of the few to explicitly state that the probes should not be immersed. This became an issue on one unit we tested. But back to the probes. Their cable is heavier duty than most, also only 42” long, which frankly didn’t matter that much. They do make up for it with a probe that is a couple inches longer and has a heavy duty stainless base. The base is knurled for an easy grip.
Not using your phone or tablet makes this an interestingly purpose built package. It comes with two probes and it will accommodate only two probes. The base unit is very simple with a versatile clip/stand instead of a magnet. The receiving unit has many buttons, explained in the instructions.
They are fairly easy to understand, and there are a lot of them. You don’t want to lose the little book, these are not quite as simple as an app. They work though. You can program a temperature of your own determination, or use the extensive choices that are built in, along with a couple timer options. We also walked off well over 100 paces with the base inside obstructed, and never did lose the signal, supporting the manufacturer’s claim of a 300 foot range.
- Straightforward design for the task
- Sturdy construction, especially the probes
- Exceptional range
- Doesn’t clutter your phone with another app
- Slightly more complex than an app, less intuitive
- Base has no backlight
- Not expandable
Summary – Solid Buy
The Thermapro is built specifically to give you temperature readings and let you know them from a long distance. It is effective at that. It appears more rugged than it is perhaps, but it does the job. Not using a Bluetooth app makes it both simpler and more complex, but not daunting, although it lacks even minimal data output. With multiple buttons on the receiver it will take just a moment to get to know this product, but it’s worth it for the options it offers. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Smoke X4; if you like the idea of wireless without fussing with technology and you don’t mind ponying up a little cash, see our review on this RF thermometer.
Right out of the gate, we loved the presentation. We’re geeks, what can we say? It has a smart looking carry case that holds the two probes, one clip and the base unit. So if you are taking your show on the road, camping or cookouts you are set…unless you want more than 2 probes.
The probes are quality, no coloring, but a solid stainless (or chromed) base where the standard 48” cable meets the probe. They made an effort on the color coding by having two matching beads on the cable. Presumably you slide one near the probe and the other to the plug to ID the cable. The negative is that there is nothing to hold them there and they slide very easily, but we will give some points for the effort. The beads also clip into the cable spool, so you have to slide them both back to the plug when wrapping it up.
The base unit has a more solid feel to it, no magnet, but it does have an arm to stand it up at an angle. Otherwise it is the standard one button operation shared by many of these units.
The batteries seemed particularly hard to remove when the time came to change them, as in you could rip off a fingernail trying.
As another member of the gang of five, the app is a near clone of the group, so at least it delivers decent functionality, especially as one of the less expensive models we tested.
- Nice case
- Heavy duty probes with colored beads
- Solid feel to base unit
- Colored beads
- No Magnet
- Case doesn’t allow for expansion
Summary — Satisfactory
The Chugod will make a nice gift or a good starting point for your kitchen. The carrying case allows for use outside your home and easy storage. The app is basic with the minimal functionality to be effective. Intuitive one button ops are easy to master, and the simplicity of the app does make it easy to use.
This is the Oprol clone. Their packaging is a little simpler, it includes 4 probes and one clip along with the base unit.
The base can accommodate 6 probes if you wanted to add more, although with 3 for meats and one for ambient temp this is a very workable package. Of the 5 pages of instructions, 4 are verbatim to the Oprol in a different sequence, the bonus page is a diagram of the base unit.
This one did have a bit better build quality, in that nothing fell apart right away, although it too did not include the ‘AA’ batteries needed. It is also not meant to be left out in the weather.
The one button operation of the base unit is pretty intuitive, like most of the units we tested a quick tap lights it up to read easier. It will also scroll through the various probes you are using as it displays the corresponding temperature. This unit also ranked second in conveying temperature changes. Both sensing at the base and updating the app.
This app is part of the group of apps that are very similar. An unlikely issue for most users, we had information crossing over from one unit to another because their Bluetooth protocol and apps were so similar. They come close to a good idea with the coloring on the probes having it match the color on the app display. But – you knew there had to be one – they don’t make it easy. The plug end of the sensors are all black. So you would have to lay out your sensors, open the app, plug the proper plug into the matching numbered port on the base to coincide with the colored number on the app, or change the color by number on the app. Basically more trouble than it is worth.
- Quick sensing and transmitting to app
- Easy to grip silicone handles on probes
- Enough equipment to get started
- Only one end of the probe is color coded
- Base unit not ruggedized at all
- Only has magnet, no way to stand up base unit
Summary — Unsatisfactory
Soraken is not the sturdiest and the app is basic. You will be able to monitor multiple temperatures, and as starting point this might be a viable product, but there are others with better value at a similar or better price point. One button commands are standard as part of a lightweight build quality, and limited in the same fashion as the app.
You open this box and get some nice ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’, you really want to like this unit based on the design characteristics. Sharp look in red with the big circular display and brushed metal stand, probes that have red cast aluminum bases, all well presented in the box and batteries are included.
The honeymoon stopped right there. The base was lighter than expected, feeling almost cheaply made.
The circular theme carried through to the door on the battery compartment which came open easily, but was bit of a challenge to click shut if you happen to have big mitt hands.
The sensor cable measured at 46”, no big deal. The probe was close to an inch shorter than most and had no stepped down tip like all the others. It started as a slightly thicker cylinder then tapered to a point.
Power it up with the on/off switch on the back and you get a flicker of bars and one green light with an occasional blink. After plugging in the sensors, it took a couple tries to get everything all synced up. The Bluetooth, sensors, display, finally came together for the most part. The sensors are slow. S-L-O-W. Not a big deal with long smokes, it would be hard to trust this for an expensive steak on the broil. Accuracy is also a question, it never registered below 36 degrees in the ice bath.
- Good design features
- Easy to read display
- Batteries included
- Seemingly cheap feel
- Slow responses
- 10 penny nail probes
Summary — Unsatisfactory
All in all, it is kind of hard to give this product, at the higher end of pricing, any kind of ringing endorsement.
Cool looking, the GrillEye is actually not good for its own namesake; grilling. The slow response and chubby probes do not lend themselves to accurately reading a steak. Their construction is fine for long smoking times and such, but it needs to be effective for all your grilling needs. The red box seems flimsy and the one button operations, and the app, have a primitive feel at odds with the design.
This unit comes packaged well equipped, including 6 probes and a set of pulling ‘claws’. Each of the probes has a colored silicone bulb handle and a lightweight braided cable 48” long and two clips to attach the probes as needed.
Overall a well-equipped package, but that is about as far as it went, this was not a favorite in the testing. Like most we tested, batteries were not included, but you just need a couple ‘AA’s to get up and running.
The base unit is the standard one button operation of many of the units, although in this case it must be noted that this unit and Soraken we tested are sharing manufacturing and design, if not outright being manufactured by one company. Down to identical verbiage on the box about their app, and using the exact same name in Google play & App store. Display, button size and location, ports for thermometers, you get the idea, all are identical. Oddly though, not all the good and bad carried through. For example, the magnet for this unit, located in the battery cover, came loose as soon as the batteries were installed…it stuck to the battery. A little superglue and the problem didn’t recur, but come on.
And then the temps between the two sensors we used for the 140 degree test never matched, they held a constant two degree separation. At 32 degrees however, they matched up.
There is also a high degree of crossover on their app development and writing it seems. We ended up with a gang of five that had strikingly similar app looks and functionality. Fortunately there were a couple differences, including the ability to change the alert tone which we appreciated.
- Easy one touch operation
- Simple app with some adjustability
- Well accessorized
- Higher priced than many in the group, it didn’t deliver
- Sloppy build
- Inconsistent accuracy
Summary — Unsatisfactory
The Oprol product just doesn’t seem ready for prime time. From shoddy build quality and a weak magnet with no way to stand the unit up, and the basic app; even the extras included do not make up for a lack of quality out of the gate. Yes, it works with one button and a simplistic app, but that matters less if you can’t trust the output.
What exactly are you looking for when choosing a Bluetooth meat thermometer? Below are a few things to consider.
HOW MANY PROBES/CHANNELS DOES IT HAVE? ARE THERE AMBIENT PROBES?
This will do a lot to determine what devices you’ll consider. How many probe channels does the thermometer have, and how many probes does it come with? Most will come with about 4 probe channels, enough for three meat probes and one ambient probe. FYI, recently, we tested out wireless probes which feature both an ambient and internal temperature sensor, the same features, all without any wires.
HOW SMART IS IT?
You wouldn’t be getting a Bluetooth thermometer if it weren’t for the smart features and the app. Most thermometer apps will have a variety of presets for different meats (Steak, BBQ, Chicken, Pork) that can all be customized to your own definition of “Medium-Rare.” They’ll all have minimum and maximum temperatures you can set but some don’t include very many options when it comes to setting alarms, and some are just annoying and more difficult to turn off than others.
Only a select few like the one offered by ThermoWorks (BlueDot), offer cooking graphs and charts, so you can create logs of your smoking and grilling sessions, see what went wrong, and export them to go over later.
Nobody wants their thermometer to die while the meat is on the grill. Make sure the device gets good battery life, and that the battery can be easily recharged or replaced. Some devices even claim to get 3000 hours of life off two AAs.
The biggest difference here is: is it waterproof, water resistant, or none of the above? This will go a long way into sizing up the quality of your device. Next, you’ll want to compare the probes, are they thick and cheaply sealed where they wire enters the probe? Or are they sleek and slender? While probes are a dime a dozen and, in most cases interchangeable, you can usually judge overall quality of your buy by taking a close look at the probes.