The ThermoWorks Signals is a four-channel food thermometer that can be used by itself or controlled remotely via either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, giving the user complete flexibility to monitor a cooking session. The normal mode is a cloud connection that logs the cooking data and makes it available anywhere an internet connection is available. Unlike many units that can only be monitored remotely, the Signals also allows the user to set both high and low alarms for each probe independently, name the probes (beef, lamb, cooker, etc.), and view the minimum and maximum temps seen by the probes, all from the remote screen of an Android or Apple device.
The large, backlit LCD display is divided into four panes, one for the probe in each channel. The instantaneous temperature of each channel is displayed in large, 0.5″ (13mm) characters. The upper and lower alarm settings are both displayed, as is the name assigned by the user for each probe – up to four characters. The probe name can only be changed via the app. Six buttons allow the user to set alarms, activate the backlight, and control the alarm volume.
The alarm status for each probe is shown as On or Off, and if the temperature of the probe falls outside the upper or lower alarm limit, the “HIGH ALARM” or “LOW ALARM” label will flash. There is a global audible alarm with four volume levels that can also be muted. Fahrenheit or Celsius scales are selected either at the unit or via the app. The refresh rate for the data can be adjusted in steps: 10, 20, 30, or 60 seconds, but only via the app.
I tested the Android app. It is easily downloaded and installed on any device running Android V6.0 or above. The Signals unit uses the same app as the ThermoWorks Smoke Gateway, and it can monitor a number of units simultaneously. When first launched, the app will prompt you to create an account with your name, e-mail address, and password.
Navigation is straightforward and should be intuitively familiar to most users. Setup involves making a Bluetooth connection first. Once that is established, the SSID and Password for your router are entered, and the unit will connect to the cloud under the account previously created. Each channel of the device will be displayed. Tapping the desired channel will bring up another pane with more details. The current temperature of that probe is displayed in a large circle that changes color when the probe nears or exceeds the alarm thresholds. From this pane, you could name the probe if desired, set alarms, activate the alarms, clear the Min/Max data and elect whether to display them or not. There is also a graph of temperature versus time for each channel that can be saved and exported in csv format, suitable for Excel. The graph tends to be a bit jagged until enough data has been collected, at which point it plots smoothly.
The probes are well above average in construction. There is a strain relief at the probe and at its connector that will help prevent damage to the stainless steel sheathing, which is more robust than most. The unit comes with different colored silicone donuts that can slip over the probes and connectors so you can keep the probes organized visually – a nice touch.
The unit comes with a charger and USB cable, but BEWARE! The connector that plugs into the Signals is an unusual one, but the other end is a standard USB connector that will plug into any USB charger. The ThermoWorks charger puts out 12 volts, but a standard USB charger puts out 5 volts, which means that a standard charger with the ThermoWorks cable will NOT charge the Signals device. Plus, if this charger is used on a typical USB device, it might damage it. A careful user won’t have an issue with the charge cable, but not everyone is careful or alert. IMO, due to the voltage difference, the cable should have been hardwired into the charger.
Another nit: the battery indicator on the unit isn’t segmented, so the user might think it’s nearly fully charged when it’s not. The indicator flashes while the battery charges, but the only indication of a low battery is a tiny icon in the app that only appears when it’s nearly discharged. Why not include a full/partial/no charge indicator?
Like everything ThermoWorks makes, the Signals is built to industrial standards. The base unit is solid as a rock and essentially waterproof. The probes are rugged. There are magnets on the back of the unit to secure it while in use. (But don’t stick it on or in a hot cooker!!!) Documentation is a little sketchier than I’d like to see but serviceable. The user’s sheet gives contact info for the company, including address, website, e-mail and telephone numbers. Warranty is two years.
At $229, this unit isn’t cheap, but it will satisfy the demanding user with its performance and quality construction. Another Gold Medal for ThermoWorks.
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