Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Product Review: Thermoworks Thermopop and TimeStick

My Thermoworks family has grown!
L to R:  Original Thermapen, Splashproof Thermapen, ChefAlarm, Thermopop, TimeSticks

A couple of months ago, Thermoworks sent me their new, low priced Thermopop digital thermometer to test out.  About the same time, I had bought a pair of their new TimeSticks.  I got busy in several projects and have used them heavily but I'm just now getting around to writing up my thoughts about these two new offerings. 

Thermoworks Thermopop $24
I consider the Thermopop to be the little brother of the highly vaunted Thermapen.  Like many people, I feel the Thermapen is the fastest and most accurate digital thermometer available to the general public.  But let's face it, not every back yard griller is willing to pony up $89 for the Cadillac of thermometers.

That is where the Thermompop comes in with it's economical $24 price tag.  But it is not economy class, this simple to use digital probe thermometer is loaded with features.
  • Rotating display - You can turn the digital readout to make it easy to read, whether you are left or right handed.  Pressing a simple button on the back rotates the display 90° with every click.  It would be cool if you could set it to auto-rotate.
  • Lighted display - This comes in handy when you are checking temps during the dark evenings of winter or on those overnight smokes.  (Is there anything better than smelling BBQ at 4 in the morning?)
  • Splash Proof - This cat ain't afraid of water.  I wouldn't recommend taking it swimming but if you spill your adult beverage onto it, it will be fine.
  • Super Fast - The Thermopop registers temperatures consistently within 5-6 seconds as claimed by Thermowrks and verified by my simple testing.
  • Accuracy -  The specifications are a temp range of -58° to 572°F with a +/- 2°F variance up to temps of 248° and a +/- 4°F for temps above 248°F. 
 Like I said, I have used the Thermopop for a good bit now and have been happy with its performance.  At first I checked behind it with one of my Thermapens, just to be sure but they were always the same.  It seems maybe a hair slower than the Thermapen but it is still faster than any other digital probe thermometer that I have used.

I didn't want to rely on what I felt, after all, I'm not a Jedi in training and this isn't a lightsaber.  So I ran it through a few basic tests.  I tested how quickly the Thermopop registered a boiling point and how accurate it was in measuring the boiling point.  The boiling point for my altitude and the barometric pressure for that day and it was 210.43°F.   I repeated the test a few times and then averaged the figures but the results were consistent between the tests.  While I had it set up, I decided to test all of my thermometers, including two remote probe units.

L to R:  BGE instant read, Taylor Weekend Warrior, Thermopop, Thermapen-Splashproof, Thermapen Original
Thermometer Time to Measure Boiling Point Time to Measure Freezing Point Variance +/- from Boiling Point
Thermapen Original 2.5 3 1.57
Thermapen Splash Proof 2.5 4 -0.43
ThermoPop 6 7 -0.43
Taylor Weekend Warrior 9 10 1.17
BGE Instant Read 37.5 19 -0.93
ChefAlarm 17.5 19 -0.43
Taylor Remote Probe 33 22 -4.43

The Thermapen was still the fastest at a blazing 2.5 seconds but the Thermopop turned in the next best time of 6 seconds.  The newer Thermoworks products (Thermapen, Thermopop, and ChefAlarm) were all tied for the best accuracy.  My original Thermapen was off 1.57 degrees but that unit is 5 years old and using the original battery, so it's time to be sent in for service but it is still within the +/- 2°F accuracy advertised.

Note:  The Original Thermapen, Taylor Weekend Warrier 806E, and BGE instant read are all older models that have been replaced with re-vamped product designs.   

So this Thermopop might be inexpensive but it isn't cheap or bo-bo.  I think it's a real performer and perfect for:
  • People just starting out needing their first instant read thermometer
  • People wanting an extra thermometer in addition to their Thermapen
  • People who aren't ready to invest in a Thermapen but still want high performance
  • As a gift for your grilling friends or family
  • Anyone wanting a superb instant read thermometer for under $25.
As with most Thermoworks consumer products you can get them in a rainbow of colors.

Photo Credit:  Thermoworks

Value:  5/5 stars
Features:  5/5 stars
Performance:  4.5/5 stars
Overall:  5/5 stars

Thermoworks TimeStick $19
This new TimeStick solves a problem that we sometimes have at my house.  We'll set the timer on the kitchen oven or even another timer and go on about our business.  Our house has three levels and at some point later, I'll realize the timer has been going off for who knows how long.  Whoops.

Now when I set one of these, I put it around my neck so it goes with me.  Why did I buy two?  I don't only have one grill.

Up until now, my favorite kitchen timer has been this one on the left, from OXO.  My first one survived about 4 long years of abuse before the buttons finally died.  I've dropped it.  I've left it out in the rain.  I spilled stuff on it. It's a rugged timer.  The one pictured is the replacement I bought about a year ago.  I think the OXO is an excellent timer so it makes for a good comparison.

Both units have a clock, count up (stopwatch), and count down (timer).  Both units are splash resistant.  But here are some things I like about the TimeStick that the OXO doesn't have:
  • The lanyard.  Sure I could put the OXO on a lanyard but it's bulky and I'd look like FlavorFlav. (Speaking of lanyards, I still miss having one on the newer Thermapen.)
  • Count down and count up features work independently of each other and you can use both at the same time.  The OXO is either/or but not both.  An example of when this would help is cooking ribs.  You can use the count up timer to track overall time while using the count down timer to alert you when it is time to do the next step, like foiling the ribs or basting.  
  • The TimeStick has a visible graph on the count down feature (see two pictures above, the left TimeStick's display) so you can quickly see about how much overall time is left. 
  • I find the display of the TimeStick is easier to read.
  • You can easily fit the TimeStick in your pocket.  There is a keypad lockout button so you won't accidentally shut off the timer while it's in your pocket.
  • TimeStick has a magnet for mounting temporarily to your fridge or other metal surface (not a hot grill lid!). 

I still think the OXO is great but with them being priced about $5 apart, I'd go for them TimeStick every time.

Value:  5/5 stars
Features:  5/5 stars
Performance:  5/5 stars
Overall:  5/5 stars 

[Standard Disclaimer]  I have an informal business relationship with Thermoworks but I am not paid by them nor am I a sales affiliate.  Sometimes they send me free items but I also buy items from them at full price.  In this case they gave me the Thermopop and I bought the two TimeSticks.

Giveaway Reminder
You have until this weekend to enter the giveaway for a copy of Ted Reader's new book, Gastro Grilling, and a set of his signature rubs and sauces.

Have a great week!