Being able to pick a preset temperature from within the app is a handy feature. Granted, if you're simply doing a temperature check outside of the oven, it's not difficult to look up a doneness target for a particular kind of meat on your phone and manually sort it out using a cheaper digital or dial meat thermometer.
But the real value comes from being able to stick the probe into a raw roast or hunk of meat before it hits the oven or pan, leave the kitchen entirely, and be alerted when your protein matches the desired preset temperature. Cooking pork has long been a struggle for me--it tends to be either too pink or overdone, rarely just right--but with the Kitchen Thermometer Mini, I was able to get a heads-up on my iPhone right when it hit the needed temperature and pull out the butterflied chops in time. That's a huge help.
Range can be an issue, however. iDevices pegs the Bluetooth connectivity range at up to 150 feet between your iPhone and the thermometer, but in my apartment, I could only get about 30 feet away before the connection failed--which meant my living room was out-of-bounds if I wanted a timely alert. Your mileage will vary based on your space, but that was a disappointing twist in my space.
After using the Kitchen Thermometer Mini for the first time, a few days passed until I needed it again--to check the temperature of a roast that had just slow-cooked for eight hours. At that point, I pulled out the thermometer, pressed the button, and... nothing. It was dead. A replacement disc battery brought it back to life, but why would the device kick the bucket after a single, brief use? A bum starter battery?
Instead, it seems that the Mini's faulty auto-shut off function is to blame. Namely, it doesn't work at all. You can turn the Mini off manually by pressing the button in for three seconds, but if you don't do so, it will continuously attempt to pair until the battery dies. What it's supposed to do is shut down after five minutes if it's not paired and the probe isn't attached, or turn off after an oddly overlong eight hours if the probe remains plugged in but it's still not paired to a device.
Instead, what it does is cycle endlessly through the pairing prompt, sending you to pick up a $5 battery for its miscue. Even a $10 Weber digital meat thermometer is designed to turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity, but this $40 smart option can't muster that. Replicating the issue, I left it on overnight with no probe attached and no connection to my iPhone, and it was still pulsing 12-plus hours later. Connected devices should make things easier and more convenient for users, not add an extra layer of hassle to the experience--and at a premium, to boot.
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