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Remote Thermometers

Published May 2015
Update: May 2017
The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer has been discontinued from the manufacturer. The recommended runner-up remote thermometer by Oregon Scientific is our new winner.

How we tested

Remote thermometers allow you to monitor, from a distance, the temperature of food cooking on the grill, the stovetop, or in the oven. One or more temperature probes inserted into the food connect to a battery-powered base that communicates wirelessly with a receiver: either a pager or (via Bluetooth) your smartphone or tablet. Our former favorites, a pager-style receiver by Taylor and a Bluetooth product by iDevices, have both been redesigned, so we used six new models (priced from $28.91 to $78) on the grill, on the stovetop, and in the oven to take the temperature of pulled pork, steak, and salmon fillets. Four were pager-style models and two were Bluetooth, one of which was the updated model from iDevices. (At press time, the updated Taylor had not yet been released; we will test it when it becomes available.) We recorded the longest distance from which each model reported temperatures, and we also tested each for accuracy by putting it into a sous vide machine and comparing its temperature against readouts from the sous vide machine, as well as from our laboratory-quality calibrated thermometer.

Most models were accurate to within 1 degree of the lab thermometer (the lone outlier reported temperatures that were consistently 3 degrees off), and all had probes long enough to reach into thick cuts of meat and thin connector cables that didn’t obstruct grill lids or oven doors.

Distance and functionality were more problematic. No model met its advertised distance range, though each company noted that ranges will vary depending on building materials and interference. A few receivers stayed in touch with their bases through thick walls and up to 250 feet away, while others lost connection as little as 30 feet from the grill with no obstructions.

When it came to user-friendliness, pager models were categorically fussier to use. They were harder to set up, and we often had to consult the manuals to make adjustments to temperature presets or to reestablish a connection. Some would beep continuously for no apparent reason, and the base of one frequently shut off during cooking.

We preferred the Bluetooth devices, which paired effortlessly with our smartphones and were far easier to operate. Each came with a caveat: Only the base of one model displays whether or not the device is connected, meaning that we could wander off without realizing that the phone had lost communication with the base, and the distance range of another model was a modest 100 feet. But if the shorter distance isn’t a problem, our winner connects quickly and delivers accurate, clear temperature readouts.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*