Thermoworks Smoke - a review
Thermoworks are very well regarded for their range of food thermometers, in particular the Thermapen and so I will be looking at whether the Smoke lives up to the quality and accuracy of that unit.
I aim to compare the Smoke with the Maverick 732 (or 733), the remote thermometer most used in the barbecue arena.
Straight out of the box the Thermoworks Smoke feels very well made and solid. The plastic is solid with a nice texture and there is a rubberised strip around the outside on both units which makes it feel good to hold and secure.
It’s delivered with the batteries already installed and a quick pull of the plastic travel strips will connect them, turning on the base unit and the receiver.
The base and receiver come pre paired. You can turn either unit on in any order and they will pair to each other.
Connecting the two probes to the base unit will instantly show the temperature and sync it to the receiver almost immediately. One probe has the standard L shape with a pointed end, ready to insert into whatever you are cooking, the other probe is shorter and comes with the standard type of clip to attach to your BBQ grid.
The user interface is very good with arrow shaped buttons to make adjustments to alarm temperatures and Set and On/Off buttons next to the relevant temperature to turn the alarm on and off. I found that I was able to use the unit straight out of the box doing the usual ‘man thing’, not reading the instructions.
So my initial impressions are very good, it feels like a quality product and one that is easy to use.
Ease of use
This unit is very simple to use and some thought has obviously gone into its design. This is a product that just feels natural to use, just as any really thought out product does.
The fact that the units are delivered pre-paired is brilliant. While the Maverick systems are relatively easy to pair, I have seen it confuse people and I have seen units returned purely because of this.
Changing the unit between °C and °F is very simple with one button to press on the back of the main unit. This changes the setting on both the main unit and the receiver. On the Maverick you have to do this on both units. However the maverick allows you to see both °C and °F at the same time with the main unit and receiver side by side.
On both units of the Smoke the screens are large and show all of the main information. On the Maverick the base unit only shows one temperature at a time, toggling automatically between the probe and BBQ temperature.
The probes can be plugged into either port of the main unit, they’re not labelled food or probe like the Maverick. You can therefore choose whether you want the BBQ temp or the food temp at the top of the screen.
The Smoke is setup to read temperature to within 0.1°C. Unlike some other units I have used the temperature remains very stable, I’ve experienced other thermometers bouncing several tenths of a degree every second. The Maverick only shows the temp to within 1°C (or 1°F).
With the alarms the temperature setting is only in whole degrees, which is more than accurate enough for those of us in the barbecue world.
Both the main unit and the receiver display the probe temperature, the high temperature alarm setting and the low temperature alarm setting. The main unit also displays the highest and lowest temperature recorded.
As soon as the probes were inserted and left on the bench next to each other you could see the temperature quickly changing and converging. Once they had stabalised, which happened quickly, the two probes quickly sat within 0.1°C of each other.
I then setup my Thermapen next to the two probes. The Thermapen is tested and certificated when it is manufactured. It’s tested at 0°C and 100°C and the results are on the certificate. My Thermapen was spot on 0°C and 100°C to the tenth of a degree.
At ambient outside temperature the Smoke matched exactly the temperature ready by my Thermapen, 5.8°C. I’d say therefore the Smoke is astonishingly accurate at low temps.
Comparing the Smoke to the Maverick the two probes of the Maverick read 3°C apart, reading 6°C and 3°C when the Smoke was reading 5.2°C on both probes.
I was able to repeat the accuracy at high temperatures with the Smoke as well. The Maverick always showed different temperatures between the two probes.
Setting the alarms is very easy on the Smoke. Pressing the set button once will select the high alarm, it flashes and the unit beeps. You then use the up and down arrows to set the temp. Holding one will speed through the temperatures. Press the set button again and you can now set the low temperature alarm. Pressing the set button a third time will return the unit to normal mode. It’s as easy as that.
You can also turn on and off the alarm sound individually for each probe as well as adjust the volume of the alarm and even mute it.
The Maverick however is a little more complicated and requires you to press and hold the relevant alarm button before then pressing the same button to adjust the temperature upwards. If you miss a temperature you then have to go all the way through all the temps. The temperature is then set by pressing the light/mode button, not the most obvious.
The Maverick can only have all alarms on or off and there is no way to set volume.
The Smoke is streets ahead of the Maverick here.
Speed of response
The Thermapen is highly regarded as one of the quickest responding thermometers on the market. The Smoke looks like it uses a very similar probe so I would expect it to also be very fast responding.
To test the response I heated a cup of water and suspended the food probe of the Smoke and Maverick next to the Thermapen probe. Instantly the Thermapen raced to 86°C in about 2 seconds with the Smoke practically in sync. The Maverick on the other hand took around 45 seconds to reach 85°C.
I then removed the probes and watched the Thermapen and Smoke probes drop rapidly in temperature while the Maverick clearly lagged behind.
There is no contest here, the Smoke is in a different league to the Maverick. The Smoke is almost as good as the Thermapen and I can see if people were going to invest in a single product then the Smoke would make a huge amount of sense.
I tested this by taking my units to the far corner of the garden and then sitting within the house at the far opposite corner. Both units are quoted as having a 300foot range.
I found both unit to work well. The Smoke dropped out once, it displays ‘Con’ when it does. However it quickly reconnected in a second or two.
The Maverick lost connection shortly afterwards. I had to move back towards the base before it would reconnect. It also appeared it only polled for the connection every few seconds, so reconnection was much slower.
I would say both units are equally capable. I like the faster connection time of the Smoke.
I can’t comment on this for either systems. My Maverick is still running on the original set of batteries after 3 years and the Smoke is brand new.
There is no stand with the Thermoworks Smoke, instead it has two powerful magnets on the back of the main transmitter and a lanyard on the receiver so you can hang it around your neck.
The Maverick has a small metal stand for the transmitter and a belt clip for the receiver.
The Smoke isn’t currently available in the UK so I imported mine from the US. I therefore paid a hefty shipping charge on top of the $99 price tag. I would expect to see it available in the UK at £100.
The Maverick 732 is available on Amazon regularly at around £60. Occasionally it can be bought for less.
In 2017 it will have a WiFi module that will allow you to control and see the controller on an app on your phone or a web page. This will be a great addition but I obviously haven’t reviewed that here.
The Thermoworks Smoke is a very well manufactured and designed product. Its user interface is superb and the Pro Series probes absolutely first class. I love this product and while it is significantly more expensive than the Maverick I really do believe it justifies its price tag because of the better interface and superb probes.
If I had to choose between the two products I would go for the Smoke every time. I realise for some people the extra price will be hard to justify but please do consider it, it’s a superb product.