I love to cook and especially love grilling. Over the years I've reviewed at least three meat thermometers that use an iPhone or iPad as a way to not only monitor the temperature of cooking meat, but to give you an indication of when it's done. What makes the Meater Wireless Smart Thermometer (US$69) unique is that all of the electronics are in a small, nail-like probe that you insert into the meat -- there are no cables leading to a external transmitter or your iOS device, so it's truly wireless.
Meater definitely gets the thumbs-up in terms of design. I frankly hated most of the other "wireless" meat thermometers that I reviewed, because the cables that dangled to the outside of the grill or oven tended to get damaged quite easily. Meater is tough -- a stainless steel probe with no cables and a ceramic "handle" on one end. To charge Meater, you simply insert it into an attractive wood case that can be magnetically attached to the outside of your grill for safekeeping while cooking. That case hides a replaceable battery that charges the Meater when it's not in use.
There's another unique feature of Meater: it not only checks the temperature of the meat you're cooking, but also lets you know if that cheap bimetallic thermometer built into your grill has been lying to you. It has an ambient temperature sensor, and I've found that my grill's thermometer is as much as 110°F higher than the real temperature shown by Meater! That explains some of those situations where a salmon filet has spontaneously combusted...
There's a line etched onto the exterior of the probe -- that indicates the least distance into the meat you need to insert the Meater. That puts the ambient temperature sensor two inches away or less from the surface of the meat.
One other thing; the Meater uses Bluetooth for short range communications up to 10 meters (about 33 feet), but the website describes both Meater Wi-Fi and Meater Cloud as methods of increasing that range. This will apparently be built into the Meater Block, which includes four of the probes. There's no word on whether or not an optional device for a single Meater will be available for Wi-Fi enabled cooking.
As with other "Smart Thermometers", Meater requires an app to monitor the temperature and tell you when the meat is cooked. The Meater Smart Meat Thermometer app is hands-down the best of its genre I've seen, complete with videos showing how to use the device, recipes for grilling, and so on.
About once a week I grill up a pair of 6 ounce salmon fillets, and up to this time I used a method that had varying results -- six minutes of direct heat meat side down, followed by another six minutes of heat with the skin side down. Sometimes I shortened the second cooking time, but the salmon always came out well-done, which is the way my wife and I like it. However, I always felt that this also dried out the salmon fillets pretty badly, and on occasion a particularly fatty salmon filet would cause a flare-up that ended up turning the fillet into a piece of charcoal...
The salmon fillets were the perfect test subject for this review. I prepared them with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then inserted the Meater into one of the fillets. Note that the photo at the top of this section shows it inserted from the side -- I changed that prior to cooking to inserting it straight into one end of the fillet so that the temperature sensor was in the thickest part of the meat as recommended.
Upon putting the Meater into the salmon, it showed an internal temperature of 49°F and an ambient temperature of 84°F. That ambient temp seemed high, but then I remembered that I had just thawed the meat in a microwave, so the Meater was probably picking up the skin heat. Next, I tapped the "Setup Cook" button and selected the type of meat (fish) and the exact type (Salmon). My grill was heated up by this point and I tossed the fillets on the grill skin down.
As the ambient temperature reading climbed, the app showed how much time was remaining for cooking. During the cooking process, it constantly showed the internal, target (145°F) and ambient temperatures, and counted down the time. With 5 minutes left to go in the cooking process, Meater provided a time warning.
This is when I also found out that my grill's thermometer is WAY off! The ambient temperature inside the closed grill kept climbing, and at one point I received a warning that the ambient temperature of 530°F "is above safe level". Since I did not want to remove the probe, I opened the top of the grill to cool things off to a safe level and also lowered the heat level.
Finally, I received notification that the salmon was done and it was time to remove it from the heat and "rest" it. The resting salmon fillets kind of overshot the target temperature of 145°F, and sure enough the app told me that the salmon was overcooked. The app provides a wonderful chart of ambient, target and actual internal temperatures as a record.
The fillets were -- to me -- perfect. Unlike after using my usual method of grilling, the fillets were very juicy and more flavorful. Sadly, my spouse has gotten use to much drier cooked salmon so she didn't like the texture... You can't please everyone!
I'm looking forward to trying Meater with some ribeye steaks this weekend, and now I know that my grill is much hotter than it needs to be so I'll be reducing the temperature on the controls.
Whether you cook inside or grill outside, Meater is an accessory that you need in your kitchen. The $69 price tag is comparable to some of the wired meat thermometers that I've destroyed (the cables were the weak spot on all of those), and the app is top-notch -- the many five-star ratings in the App Store testify to that as well.