Father’s Day Gifts with Ulterior Motives: iGrill

Cooking and Recipes GeekMom Household Gadgets
iDevices iGrill pictured in use making tasty ribs

On Mother’s Day, they tend to advertise a lot of things like vacuums and ironing boards. I think that’s a little mean. It’s like giving someone a gift that says, “Clean my house!” I’ll admit that I’m occasionally guilty of doing this for Father’s Day, although my gifts usually say “Cook for me!”  He likes cooking, and I like eating, so I refuse to feel guilty about it. This year, I received a review model of the iDevices iGrill, and I wanted to see if it qualifies as good gift encouragement for more tasty smoked meats.

The idea behind the iGrill is pretty awesome. It’s a Bluetooth-connected cooking thermometer for iPad/iPhone, and the model I received had two probes. That meant my husband could put one probe in the meat and use the other to monitor the gas smoker’s temp. We could then download the free iGrill app (there turned out to be two apps, so we went with the most recent) and pair the iGrill with our iPad. Once paired, he could check on the temps from indoors without wandering outside in 95 degree heat. The alarm would go off when the food reached the right temp. Well, he still had to check on the wood chips, but it could at least save him a little outdoor wandering.

Ok, that was in theory. In practice we had a lot of problems with keeping the devices connected. And by “we,” I mean that any time something goes wrong with a computer around here, my husband calls me for tech support. Bluetooth is a short-range signal, and sometimes it’s going to have trouble with things like the walls of your house. We found a sweet spot in the kitchen to park the iPad, and that kept the smoker within line of sight for safety’s sake, anyway. The shady hammock swing was within easy paring range, too. We also found that we’d have to re-pair every time that either the iPad or iGrill was powered off. The iGrill didn’t require any sort of security code to pair with the iPad. That’s great for ease of use, but it could lead to confusion if your neighbor has one and also likes to barbecue. I guess you’d just have to make sure there’s not more than one iGrill in scanning range when you connect. (And to clarify, the range of Bluetooth is about 200 feet, so we’re talking next door neighbors, not the whole block.)

The iGrill iPad app came with a built-in instruction manual, videos, and plenty of preset meat temps. You could also set your own temp range for things like monitoring the heat level of your smoker or grill. The app showed temps on a graph, so you could make sure your meat hadn’t lost heat at any point. The physical iGrill device also displayed the temp in cases where your connection or batter power failed on your iPad/iPhone.

I’d say the iGrill is still good gift giving material for the barbecuing dad who loves gadgets, but only if you’re not afraid to do some fiddling to maintain your Bluetooth connection. It isn’t quite the trouble-free experience I’d hoped for, but I did end up having ribs for dinner.

PS – My husband swears by the Alton Brown rib rub recipe.

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