Top critical review
It's not a Thermapen, but it's not bad
August 29, 2018
I have a Thermoworks Thermapen, which is the gold standard in instant-read digital thermometers. It's also the gold standard in cost: they list for $99. I've had the Thermapen since 2011; they were $79 back then. I use it maybe once a week, maybe a bit less, mostly when grilling.
In 2015, the Thermapen hinge broke. I sent it off and for $25 they repaired it. Recently it did the same thing. It's not completely broken, but when you open it, the "stop" that keeps the point from going past the straight-out position is gone and if it goes past that point, it shuts off again. I'm irritated because, having had this happen once, I believe I was very careful about it, yet it happened a second time.
So why am I writing so much about the Thermapen? Well, because that's why I bought this thermometer. The prospect of paying another $25 (plus shipping to Thermoworks) for what seems to be a weak design point grates on me. So I looked and found this unit. For $11, it seemed like a no-brainer to at least try.
And... it seems fine. I compared it to the Thermapen. It's a bit lighter, feels flimsier. It turns itself on when you "open" it, or rather, it turns itself off when you "close" it, because a wee button gets pressed by the probe.
Pro: It seems about as accurate as the Thermapen. I compared it in cold and hot, and it was within a degree or two--certainly close enough for most uses (and I'm not willing to bet the Thermapen was more accurate; who knows?).
Pro: As mentioned, it's cheap.
Pro: It uses AAA batteries, so that'll be easy to swap (Thermapen uses 2x CR2032).
Pro: It has a "Hold" button, and switches easily between F and C.
Semi-Pro: Claims to be waterproof; the Thermapen is "splash-proof". OTOH, I do not believe this unit is really waterproof in the sense of "If I drop it in a pot of water, I can expect it to survive". There are no gaskets that I can see, so water is going to get inside.
Con: It's definitely slower than the Thermapen. Slower to come up when started, slower to read. Not drastic, but if I were trying to measure, say, boiling oil for frying, I'd want to get in and out as fast as possible, so those few seconds might be irritating. When I removed it from the hot or cold, after holding it and the Thermapen back-to-back with the tips of the probes parallel, the Thermapen leapt about 50 degrees F ahead of this one as it reverted to room temperature. Of course the new one caught up eventually.
Con: It claims to be set for F by default, but it's not: it's in C. The instructions don't offer any way to change the default, and playing with the buttons didn't seem to achieve that goal either. If there's a way to switch it, I'd sure like to know. That cost it a star. Oddly, if you switch with the C/F button, that "stays" even if you turn it off with the On/Off button. But when you fold it (or press the button that folding it presses), it goes back to C when you turn it back on. I suspect the On/Off is really just turning the display off, and the other button is actually cutting the power.
So is it better than the Thermapen? No. Is the Thermapen 9x better? Definitely no. So unless this unit dies instantly, it's a decent choice, despite the flaws, at least for the casual home cook.