Meater Probe
Wireless Meat Thermometer


Introduction
The MEATER wireless smart meat thermometer first came to our attention in September 2015 as a project on Kickstarter. Now that it's finally here, we have had a chance to get our hands on one to play around with it and give you our impressions.

What is the MEATER Probe? It's the first truly wireless, meaning wire-free, meat thermometer. And in case you still don't get it, it means there is no wire between the probe that is stuck into your meat inside of your cooker and the device outside your cooker that displays the temperature information. How does it do this? By using Bluetooth LE, also known as Bluetooth Smart, to communicate with a smart phone or tablet running the MEATER app.

And you ask again, how does it do this (without burning up the electronics)? Oh, they are very clever, they are. By enclosing all the temperature-sensitive components inside the portion of the probe which is stuck into the meat, that's how. That portion of the probe will never get much above the temperature of your meat, so neither will the electronics. The rest of the electronics that make up the MEATER Probe which can tolerate the higher temperature of your cooker reside higher up in the shaft of the probe in the portion which is exposed to the high heat of the cooker.

What does this mean for cooking meat? Well, no more wires, obviously. No more kinked wires. No more fried wires. And imagine what this could mean for users with rotisseries: no more opening the cooker, stopping the rotisserie and using a handheld thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. And the use of a smart phone or tablet makes the data available via your wifi network and the internet.

So, there are a number of interesting aspects to the MEATER probe. Let's look at it's features and see how it performs.


Specifications and Features
The MEATER Probe consists of three components, the probe itself, the charger and the MEATER app. Here are some features and specifications from the MEATER web page:

For the probe:

For the charger: For the MEATER app:


A Photo Tour of the MEATER Probe and Charging Block
So let's take a look at the MEATER Probe and charger. It arrives in a sturdy little cardboard box.


First, a look at the front of the MEATER Probe in the charging block. There are a few things to notice. Here we see the probe installed in the charger block. While it is in the charger block, it is turned off and its internal battery charges from the AAA battery in the charger block.


To the left you can see the electrode which forms one end of the charging circuit. At center, you can see the test button and light which tells you if the AAA battery can still charge the probe. If you press the button and the green light comes on, you are good to go.


Here you can see the other electrode which completes the charging circuit.


Now, to the back of the charging block. In the photo on the left you can see two silver discs on either end of the charging block. Those discs are relatively strong magnets that allow you to affix the block to any magnet-friendly surface. In the photo on the right, we have removed the cover of the battery compartment. You can see the AAA battery which does all the charging of the probe. The two smaller silver discs on either end of the cover are again magnets that hold the lid in place.


Next, let's look at the MEATER probe itself. Physically, the probe is about 5.1 inches long. The shaft of the probe is just under ¼ inch in diameter, while the upper end is a square that is 0.28 inches on a side. The probe weighs about 0.35 ounces.


Below from left to right, we have photos of the probe's tip, the line that marks the minimum insertion point, and the ceramic housing and metal tip. The minimum insertion line is very important. All the heat sensitive electronics are located between the tip of the probe and this line. By inserting the probe into the meat up to this point, you ensure that the electronics inside don't get any hotter than the temperature of your meat. That's why you can place the probe into a very hot cooker without damaging the electronics. The sensor for the meat temperature is located below this line, about ⅓ of the way up from the tip. The ceramic portion of the probe houses the ambient temperature sensor (what most of us would call the pit sensor) as well as the Bluetooth antenna. The metal tip above the ceramic serves as one of the connections to the charger and is also connected thermally to the ambient temperature sensor. (The other connection is the metal shaft of the probe.)


Usage Rules and Warnings
The MEATER website is filled with information about using your MEATER Probe. We have pulled out some of the more important-sounding rules, limitations and warnings here:


Bluetooth Range
One critical aspect of the MEATER Probe is the range of the Bluetooth communications. What good is a wire-free thermometer if you can't stray more than a few feet from your cooker before losing your connection? MEATER claims to have up to a 10 meter (33 feet) range. Of course we had to verify this and we found that the MEATER Probe actually does quite a lot better under ideal conditions.

The Bluetooth signal radiates most strongly out to the sides of the probe, and less so out of the tip. In other words, you will get the best signal if the probe is vertical and your smart device is off to the side. Placing the probe in a horizontal position means a slightly weaker signal. We tested line of sight distance with with both orientations using an iPhone 6.

So, all in all, the Bluetooth range of the MEATER probe is quite impressive. You will come to know the capabilities and limitations of the MEATER's Bluetooth range as you use it in your particular configuration. You can certainly maintain a connection outside on a deck. You won't be able to maintain a connection everywhere inside your house, but you will be able to maintain a connection in whatever room is adjacent to your deck. Remember, this is Bluetooth, not wifi. However, the MEATER Probe in conjunction with your smart device and a wifi connection can give you far greater connectivity if you want it. Here's a summary of our results:
Line of sight vertical 106 feet
Line of sight horizontal 92 feet
Inside cermic cooker vertical > 92 feet
Inside cermic cooker horizontal 85 feet
Inside metal cooker horizontal 39 feet
Inside kitchen oven horizontal 30 feet
Inside stainless steel sauce pan horizontal 12 feet
Wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil horizontal 6 feet
Inserted into pork butt inside ceramic cooker horizontal 70 feet


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