The Smartro ST-54 is a two-channel thermometer with a timer function and audible/visible alarms when temperature limits are exceeded or the timer times out.
The thermometer runs on two AAA batteries that are not supplied. There are two switches on the back of the unit, one for °F/C and one to select the operating mode – thermometer OR timer.
Temperature accuracy is good. The user can select temperatures at which the alert will sound, either by selecting an icon (beef well, beef medium, beef rare, burger, pork, chicken) or a custom setting. The pre-programmed doneness temperatures are 170°, 160°, 145°, 160°, 170° and 180°, all of which are considerably higher than generally accepted. I recommend using the custom setting for better results. When either probe reaches the chosen temperature, a beeper sounds and the display flashes. The alarm can be muted briefly, but will restart repeatedly until the probe drops below the target temperature.
There is also a timer function that can count up or down. If you set a time, it will count down; if you start at zero, it will count up. In either case, the maximum time is 99 minutes and 59 seconds, not particularly helpful if you’re cooking a big roast for a couple hours, for example.
The unit can only operate in one mode at a time. If you set target temperatures and then switch to timer mode, the temperature alarms won’t sound. If you switch from timer mode to temperature mode, the timer will stop and reset. This is not well thought-out, IMO, as cooks monitor time and temperature simultaneously.
The display is attractive with colored bands and a brushed stainless steel bezel. The back of the unit has a hole to allow you to hang the unit on a nail, as well as a magnet and hinged stand. The recessed switches and the battery compartment aren’t sealed in any way, making them susceptible to water ingress. The probes have strain relief springs at the probe and at the plug ends, a nice touch.
The instruction sheet gives clear operating directions, along with the usual caveats about overheating or submerging the probes. There is a telephone number, e-mail address, and a Facebook page should the user need to contact the distributor. The unit is covered by a three-year warranty IF you register the product on the company’s website.
The inaccurate programmed temperatures, the inability to use the timer and the thermometer simultaneously, and the unit’s susceptibility to moisture are serious flaws, making it difficult to give this product a high recommendation.
Leave in Food, Leave in Cooker
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Bill McGrath - Bill McGrath is AmazingRibs.com's Thermometer Maven. He has sophisticated equipment, an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, and an MBA (almost) from UC Berkeley. Despite being mostly retired, he is still the person responsible for developing and updating all of ExxonMobil's training modules.