An Indiegogo success story, MEATER is the world’s first smart wireless meat thermometer, that absolutely crushed it with $2.77M raised in their crowdfunding campaign in late 2015. Since then they have made some improvements to the app, focusing on intuitive functionality and making a name for themselves in the Smart Home cooking space.
The idea behind the product is actually quite simple, design a Bluetooth wireless meat thermometer that can accurately monitor temperature, making it ideal for various cooking scenarios, without relying on metal cables to read the temperature. It’s the stellar execution of the app and the intuitive details that make it such a massive success.
Besides just measuring the internal temperature of the meat (up to 212°) while cooking, the MEATER also has a thermometer inside the handle to measure the ambient temperature (up to 527°) of the oven, grill, or smoker that is being used to cook. This is extremely useful if you don’t want to constantly check the temperature of your meat or cooking device manually, but still want to have absolute control over what is going on. It’s almost like making the actual cooking device smart, since you can remotely check the temperature inside the unit itself. This is big when you use a smoker or grill without a locked temperature. After all, nobody likes opening the grill to see a charred and mutated hunk of what used to be a delicious piece of meat, then explain to their guests that “The good stuff is just beneath the layer of char.” Yeah, we’ve all been there and it isn’t fun for anyone.
The $69 MEATER itself is a sleek design of stainless steel and ceramic, that charges via a single AAA battery when it is nestled inside its bamboo case. One charge gives the thermometer 24 hours of cook time, and the one battery can charge the MEATER up to 100 times. The case is also magnetic, so it can stay on the side of a BBQ or fridge at full charge until needed and you don’t have to worry about it being plugged in to charge between uses.
Using the MEATER is extremely simple, in fact literally all you need to do is insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat up above the mark, launch the app, and start cooking. With a reported maximum range of 33 feet with a clear line of sight, users can hang out on the couch while the burgers or steaks cook away on the grill, without worrying about overcooking them. Now, I should mention that Bluetooth 4.0 maximum range is out to about 33-35 feet (for Class 2, the most common for devices) and that is with a clear line of sight. Like with any wireless protocol (Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave included) anything that causes interference can inhibit this overall range so take that into account. You won’t be able to get a Bluetooth connection from the gym to check your roast while jogging on the treadmill.
In practice, I found that in my oven or within the smoker the wireless thermometer range was closer to 10 feet away from the grill, but that was a result of the enclosures and my walls, which are thicker material than normal. When using the thermometer on a grill I was actually able to get farther away, since I had a clearer line of sight and the lid was open.
Take Grilling to the Next Level with the MEATER+ and MEATER Block
The base model MEATER is a great budget device to get a little extra help in the culinary category, but with their newest model, MEATER+ cooks now have an extended range to play with. At $99 the MEATER+ Smart Meat Thermometer is more expensive than the first iteration, but with that extra cost comes an additional 132 feet of Bluetooth range.
With the new 165-foot range of the MEATER+, masters of the grill, smoker, or oven can get an extreme boost on their range, regardless of cooking apparatus. Even when taking into account the loss of distance due to the materials of the cooker and surrounding home, this provides real utility as a wireless meat thermometer for the Smart Home.
Extending the effective range on the MEATER+ isn’t just a matter of making the Bluetooth signal stronger, but making the ecosystem itself work more efficiently. With the MEATER+, the Bluetooth signal travels from the smart thermometer to the charging block, which then acts as a repeater and amplifies the signal. This gives users greater distance in the kitchen throughout the house, and also when cooking outdoors with a heavy-duty smoker.
MEATER also has another clever invention in the works, with their MEATER Block. The four AA-powered Block essentially is four MEATER+ wireless thermometers in one charging hub, which gives users the ability to control the cooking of multiple pieces of meat at once for a combined 50 hours of continuous cook time between changes. This is critical if you have family or guests dining that like different cook temperatures, since each individual wireless meat thermometer will be set with its own cook timing and alarm, which takes all the guesswork out of when to pull off the meat to have the perfect cook.
Not only does the MEATER Block have charging and Bluetooth signal repeating for four wireless thermometers, but it also offers users the ability to monitor the cooking process of their thermometers with a built-in OLED screen and touch-capacitive controls, without the use of a smartphone or tablet. The Block has built-in speakers so the alerts for rest time, cook point reached, and other notifications can be broadcast from the repeater itself, as well as any devices connected to the app.
The MEATER Block also has a unique sort of repeater built in, which utilizes the home Wi-Fi network to function as a Bluetooth to Wi-Fi range extender, delivering a much wider range of operation. As of now, the MEATER Block is on pre-order from the MEATER site for $199, with an expected ship date by June 2019 and a regular price of $269. Not to worry though, there is a way around this where MEATER and MEATER+ users can get the benefits of an extended range without having to wait for the Block to ship – enter the MEATER Link.
MEATER Link takes an additional smartphone or tablet (not the main one you have linked to the MEATER or MEATER+ wireless meat thermometers), and uses the home Wi-Fi connection to turn any of the devices into a Wi-Fi repeater for the signal from the probe. Not only does this give cooks a far superior range to the Bluetooth connection, but it also has a nifty feature where every device that is linked can act as a monitor and control mechanism for the temperature probe. I absolutely love that MEATER has this functionality, so I can leave my phone near the BBQ and enjoy my company inside, or even in the front yard, and not have to worry about ruining dinner as long as my wife’s phone with the app is within reach.
How a Wireless Meat Thermometer Works
All the smarts for the digital thermometer are really in the Android 5.0+ and iOS 10.3+ app, which has a step-by-step guide to narrowing down the perfect cook based on the type of meat, the cut, and the preferred cook temperature. The interface is very simple to navigate, and explains the different steps as it walks you through them.
Inside the app there are displays for the internal meat temperature, target temperature, and the ambient temperature all on a clear readout with estimated remaining cook time. There is also a temperature graph, so cooks can keep track of the heat progression of their meat along with the peak internal temperature.
In action, it is really quite simple to use. Choose the type of meat, the cut, and the cook (rare through well done, with an option for smoke or USDA as well). Based on the preset temperature for each desired doneness, the digital thermometer will forecast an estimated completion time. Now of course, the temperature readings are real-time so you can see when your meat is approaching the desired temperature range, just in case you are extra paranoid about overcooking or want to make sure you aren’t too far away to get back to the grill on time.
A really cool feature of the app is the alarm system for keeping tabs on the cook progression. I set a specific alarm for a five-minute warning, when the meat was ready to rest, when it was ready to be cut, and also an emergency alarm in case it was left too long and overcooked. This is really useful because I’ve always used the old “palm firmness” trick to guess when to take off the meat, but sometimes the temperature control of my grill or smoker isn’t right and I pull off too late, causing it to overcook during the resting process. Also, it goes without saying that a digital thermometer is more precise than me squishing my palm.
Using a Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer with Alexa and the Cloud
I’m known for spouting out the line “If it doesn’t have Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant integration in today’s world, it isn’t smart.” Well, this is one application that I wouldn’t have staked that claim to. Just having a wireless meat thermometer that has Bluetooth connectivity (that works like a charm) seems pretty smart to me. Well, MEATER decided to get ahead of the game and inject Alexa into their latest software update, and add a feature to extend the range far beyond Bluetooth or Wi-Fi ranges allow for.
Let’s start with Alexa. Since the output from the MEATER app is usually a pretty straightforward reading, the Alexa Skill is quite capable of providing all the information the app would, in audio. Users can ask Alexa for the current temperature of the meat, how much longer is needed to get to the proper cook temperature or get the current internal temperature of the meat. With simple voice commands like: “Alexa, ask MEATER to check on my cooks”, or “How long does my lamb need?”, and “What is the temperature of my chicken?” your friendly voice assistant is now your sous chef with all the details of your meat.
MEATER Cloud on the other hand, allows users to go far-range with their meat thermometer and surpass the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi ranges for connectivity. Users need to just have a MEATER Cloud account, MEATER Link set up with another device or the Block, and a Wi-Fi connection in-home. After those requirements are met and the Cloud is activated, users can go as far as they like and still receive updates and check the status on their precious slab of meat.
Now of course, if you’re cooking something in the oven, smoker, or grill you likely don’t want to go for a hike while leaving it unattended in case your house burns down, but for a quick run out to the market or to walk the dog this is a perfect solution. It works by using mobile data on the phone, however, in future updates, there is also a web-based connectivity portal in the works for even more flexibility while cooking.
Is a Wireless Meat Thermometer Worth it?
I don’t want to say the MEATER and MEATER+ wireless meat thermometers make cooking meat “idiot-proof”, but these devices are as close as you can possibly get. I have used the basic wired digital thermometer for meat, and they work at a minimal level, but do nothing special. The metal cable ends up getting dirty and pinched, or the receiver gets knocked off the counter when plugged into the meat and it becomes more of a chore than anything. Not to mention it doesn’t have any intelligent features like this one that can actually tell me when the meat should be pulled or what the ambient temperature is.
Thinking about all the times I have tried to multitask and ended up burning something on the grill, or missed the ideal cook temperature by letting the meat rest too late, the MEATER and MEATER+ would have come in real handy to notify me specifically of what to do and when. So many Smart Home devices are concerned with the more mundane details of life like turning on light bulbs, or opening and closing garage doors. Don’t get me wrong, those are all very useful devices in their own right, but they just don’t instill excitement nearly as much as smart outdoors and grilling does.
This is an awesome investment that opens up the doors for those who don’t fancy themselves grillmasters or want some extra guidance around the flame. Heck, even for those who have it all figured out, it still adds great utility for tracking multiple pieces of meat at one time without the worry if something is going off the rails. The temperature readings are accurate, the temperature range control in the app is intuitive, and both the charging block and the thermometer probes have solid construction. Without a doubt, even the basic $69 MEATER would be a great gift for someone, but having the added range of the MEATER+ makes it an easy win in my book. Hands down these are going on the Newegg Father’s Day and Christmas list “must-have” for the techie chef in everyone’s life, and the best grill thermometers that I have ever used.
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Note, all prices and products are accurate at the time of article publication, although some may have changed or are no longer available.