Smarter Sunday roasts
So-called "smart" household appliances, which wirelessly exchange data with your phone or tablet, promise a world of convenience – but do they really deliver?
The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer mini ($80) is a handy Bluetooth-enabled meat thermometer designed to eliminate the stress of keeping watch on your meat's temperature during cooking. It's easy to set up: download the iDevices app to a compatible phone or tablet, and pair it up with the gadget, which consists of a meat probe attached to the thermometer. You can mount the gadget on your oven using the magnetic disc.
After your food is prepared and ready for cooking, you use the app to select your type of meat and its "doneness". Cooking progress (including temperature and cooking time) is monitored using the app, and coloured LED lights on the device itself inform you of progress (red, for example, indicates that it's reached target temperature).
How we tested
To test the thermometer, our kitchen lab experts, Fiona Mair and Chantelle Scodeller, roasted pork and chicken using the CHOICE method. The probe itself is accurate to one degree, as we tested it against a calibrated heat source.
However, following the app's temperature guides resulted in undercooked food during testing. In practice, the food was not cooked enough because truly accurate results require perfect positioning of the probe in the food. Measuring the temperature in one spot can result in foods undercooking, as was the case with our roast pork (which required an extra hour) and roast chicken (an extra 30 minutes). Be careful when cooking poultry, which is a non-uniform food containing bones and a centre cavity. Also, the probe itself may not be long enough for large cuts of meat. If you're cooking small cuts of meat on a cooktop or grill, then the thermometer would be most useful.
Bear in mind, too, that although coloured LED lights inform you of progress, you can only view (and graph) the exact temperature on the app rather than on the thermometer itself (this is a feature available on the non-mini version of the device).
All in all, our testers thought the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer was OK – it's an accurate, basic way for budding chefs to get involved with roasting cuts of meat, and the app itself is handy for monitoring cooking progress. However, due to the trial and error required during the cooking process, it's not for complete newbies.