By: Bill McGrath
The Weber Connect Hub is a four-channel wireless remote food thermometer that can operate on its own or in conjunction with an app that runs on your phone. The unit comes with two probes; others can be purchased separately. It supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. With Wi-Fi, the user can monitor the cook anywhere an internet connection is available.
The literature says it will work with both iPhones and Android phones. I was unable to connect to it using a Samsung Galaxy S6, even though that phone meets Weber’s standards for use with the unit. I was able to connect with my wife’s less expensive Samsung phone, however.
When used stand-alone, the unit displays the temperature of one probe at a time, selectable by pressing down on the unit to activate a switch in the base. If used with the app, it works differently.
When connected, the app asks the user to pick the type of food being cooked on a probe-by-probe basis. After picking the food type and doneness preference, the software uses an algorithm to calculate the time for the next of possibly several steps in the cook. If cooking a steak, the app will tell you when to flip the meat and when to remove it from the fire. If you’re cooking a brisket, it will give you the time interval before you need to wrap the food, a technique called the “Texas crutch.” Unfortunately, you don’t know the overall time required to complete all the steps, so you can’t determine when the food will be ready. The time to stage completion will display on the sending unit as well as the app. Different probes can have different times associated with the food being cooked with that probe.
This approach to cooking might comfort the novice, but it’s likely to irritate a more knowledgeable cook. I’m not a big fan of having a thermometer app tell me when food will be done; I prefer to make that decision myself. The app also wants to dictate the cooking process, another sore spot with me. What if I don’t want to crutch my brisket? How can the app determine the length of the stall? There are too many variables for the app to make an accurate determination, in my opinion. Another thing missing is the availability of a temperature vs. time graph that can be viewed and stored. If this app can provide such a graph, I couldn’t find out how.
I found it difficult to navigate the app. No useful directions come with the unit, and many users don’t want to have to get guidance on the internet. Please, manufacturers, provide instructions that can be referenced from an arm chair. Don’t ask users to download a manual unless it’s a good comprehensive booklet, in which case, the booklet should be printed and bundled with the unit as standard practice. Weber seems to assume that the user can easily figure out how to work the software. I found it obtuse and difficult to use. Other users have complained about it as well. The manufacturer needs to spend more time on orienting users to the app before it’s ready for prime time.
As for the hardware, the two supplied probes did not have any strain relief built into the probe or the plug, something that will shorten the life of each probe. Little attention appears to have been paid to protecting against moisture; the user only gets a pictorial lesson in the hazards of getting the probes wet. This is below par for an instrument in this price range. Since the jacks are on the top of the unit, they are susceptible to water ingress if it were to rain. Otherwise, the construction of the transmitter seems to be solid. The temperature accuracy of the unit is very good, never off by more than one degree Fahrenheit over the tested range from 32 to 325°.
The internal rechargeable battery is replenished using a USB cable, which is supplied, that is then plugged into a computer or an outlet charger. But an outlet charger is not supplied. No information is given about how long the user can expect a battery charge to last.
I could not find any specific reference to a warranty in the instruction sheet, nor was there anything more than a Canadian address – no phone number nor e-mail address – should the user need customer assistance with the product.
With clear instructions and more a functional app, this unit could be successful. In its present form with its paltry instructions, it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s hard to recommend Connect Hub with so many other units on the market that don’t suffer from these shortcomings. Weber generally makes excellent products, so I’m hoping they will straighten this one out.
When I first reviewed the Weber Connect Hub, I found the app was difficult to work with. Pairing with my phone was problematic, and I had trouble navigating the various screens. I opined that the app was not ready for prime time. Weber made improvements that require revisiting the product.
In this iteration, the app makes a lot more sense. The emphasis is on providing the user with recipes and step-by-step food preparation guidance. If you’re a reasonably seasoned (pun intended) cook, you might not bother with this level of hand-holding, but a beginner or even an intermediate aspiring chef might find this information quite helpful.
The app offers a number of food categories – beef, pork poultry, lamb, fish, vegetables, and fruit. After selecting from this group, the app downloads a number of recipes from which to select. I don’t know if these are static or change periodically. For example, pork brought up 33 different recipes and beef had 50. Some have a few steps like pat dry and season. Others offer a step-by-step guide that walks the user through some videos illustrating tasks like trimming a standing rib roast, binding it with butcher’s string, and cooking it in several stages. The procedures that I looked at closely were consistent with best practices as I know them, although there is more than one way to skin a cat. (No, there weren’t any cat recipes!) Each dish had photos and many have videos that show the preparation steps, like trimming a rack of lamb. After choosing the degree of doneness and the weight of the food, the recipe will give estimates of the cooking time. The app and the thermometer keep track of cooking temps and times, telling you when to flip a steak or remove a roast, for example. You can have several recipes going at a time, each with its own temperature and time guidance.
If this approach to cooking appeals to you, Weber has done a nice job of implementing it. The process is logical and it’s easy to navigate through a recipe. I found a number of them appealing, even if I might not follow the cooking steps religiously. Guided recipes, the “Joy of Cooking” in the digital age, are becoming more popular, and Weber has stolen a march on many of its competitors.
With the refined app now in place, I’m raising my assessment to a Silver Medal.
Weber-Stephen is one of the oldest and most respected manufacturers of BBQ equipment and related accessories in the world. Weber grills and smokers cook beautifully and have great features that are clever, effective and easy to use. As popularity and demand for BBQ gear grows worldwide, Weber continues to earn their long standing reputation for quality, durability and outstanding customer service and support, (7 days a week from 7am to 8pm CST), in an increasingly competitive environment. Even in this crowded marketplace, many consumers are still willing to pay more for the Weber name and they are rarely disappointed. They make a variety of cookers and smokers. Their iconic black charcoal kettles are known throughout the world. Indeed Weber is expanding globally.
Weber-Stephen was family owned since it was founded in 1952 by George Stephen. At the end of 2010 the Stephen family sold a majority stake to Chicago investment group BDT Capital Partners. In 2012, Weber settled a class action suit out of court regarding their use of the phrase, “Made in USA”. Weber previously qualified the “Made in USA” statement by specifying their products are assembled in the USA with some components that are sourced globally. Here is an excerpt from Weber’s statement “Weber believes that because all Weber grills and the disputed accessories are designed and engineered in the USA, and all grills save for one line [Spirit]* are manufactured and assembled in the USA using component parts primarily made in the USA, it did nothing wrong and therefore has valid defenses to plaintiff’s claims. The court has not held a trial or ruled in favor of either party on any disputed issues. Weber and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the matter to avoid the costs of continued litigation.” As a result of this suit, Weber can no longer claim to be made in America.
Since then Weber, like many others, has outsourced manufacturing of more product lines. Things change, but we believe Weber’s commitment to quality and innovation has not.
The biggest barrier for many folks is price. Webers are not cheap, but when you consider that they last decades, the price is easy to justify. Many some cheap grills fall apart after three years or so.
Our main complaint: All Webers have the obligatory bi-metal dial thermometer in the hood that gives you a ballpark reading of what the temperature is high above the meat. Since we cook on the grates, though, it’s always better to bring your own digital thermometer and place a probe there. It appears this is beginning to change as Weber enters a new era of digital technology and software based products.
Published On: 4/2/2020 Last Modified: 5/13/2022
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