MEATER Block Review: No Wires Needed
When we tried out the original MEATER thermometer a few years ago we were intrigued by the futuristic design and promise of true Wireless.
However, we were left disappointed after suffering from constant range and disconnection issues.
The MEATER Block packages up four of the new and improved MEATER+ probes with a base that adds extra functionality.
For this review, I put the the MEATER Block to the test, using it for a reverse sear and a rotisserie cook to see how well it performed at different tasks.
MEATER sent me this product for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Overview and first impressions
The MEATER block is a premium higher priced product aimed at both amateur and more experienced BBQers who yearn for an easier time cooking.
My expectations for the MEATER block were high, but did it meet those expectations? Well, yes and no, but mainly yes after some fiddling and teething issues.
I loved the quality of this product, and also how it looks. It’s almost like an ornament, I actually love the look of the bamboo, and have it permanently on the bench in my kitchen on show, rather than tucked away in a box like some BBQ themed Penguin from that Batman film, like the rest of my BBQ stuff.
The ease of use of the MEATER, and the extended range it offered with the block via MEATER cloud, meant that it performed excellently for my needs, and after finding a good spot for it, didn’t suffer from the connectivity issues of the original.
What I like:
- Quality – the quality of this just oozes ‘premium product’, and I was really impressed with the MEATER block, right from packaging, to feel of the block itself and materials used.
- Ease of use of App – Once downloaded – and connected to the block – the app worked admirably, and was super intuitive to use, whilst at the same time allowing the user to fine tune a cook to their exact specifications
- Wireless probes – The main selling point of the MEATER and the block is the wireless connectivity, meaning continuous monitoring of rotisserie cooks, as well as normal cooks that may be more difficult with a wired thermometer or instant read probe like the thermapen.
- Ambient temp algorithm – As well as an internal temp monitor, the MEATER has an ambient temp monitor, which is useful in itself. Where it really shines though is its inbuilt algorithm, which works out how long your cook has remaining, based on internal temp and ambient temp.
What I don’t like:
- Connectivity – It took me some attempts to get the range and positioning correct so that I could connect the block to the probes, and the block to my home WiFi and this was rather frustrating for my first cook.
I think the majority of people probably only need a single MEATER+. With four probes you can measure a tonne of different things at once.
Adding the OLED screen to the charging base does make the device more versatile. I would recommend the MEATER block to any gadget-obsessed outdoor cook.
Unboxing and setup
The MEATER block arrived in a robust cardboard box, which itself was securely packaged inside another heavy duty cardboard box.
I was really impressed with the quality of the packaging which clearly contains a premium product, reminiscent of an Apple product.
The design of the internal box mirrors the Meater block itself, in a light wood grain effect, with the MEATER logo embossed on it in a simple yet classy and quality design.
Once opened, the MEATER block was snugly and very securely held inside, with the Instructions and quick setup guide on top.
To start using all you need to do is remove the battery cover and remove the plastic tag between the battery and contacts which stops the batteries discharging before it arrives.
Next you need to download the MEATER app (available for iOS and Android), and charge the block (and probes) for a minimum of 8 hours before the first use, according to the instructions.
My unit came partially charged, and I’m sure I could have used it immediately for a quick cook if I wished.
This ‘straight out of the box’ style really appeals to me, because I am, after all, a male, and therefore am impatient and want to use my new toys immediately.
However, I still chose to charge the unit as I wasn’t going to be using it for a couple of days anyhow.
The MEATER block is clearly a premium product in terms of both looks and feel. As soon as you open the box and start to handle it, it screams quality.
From the bamboo charging block with built in OLED screen, to the build quality of the probes themselves, the MEATER block is obviously a higher end product, and that is reflected in the price.
Using the thermometer
Unlike with the original MEATER, you aren’t forced to use the app. There are actually several ways in which you can use the MEATER block:
- Use the block entirely independently as a standalone unit – All four probes connect via Bluetooth to the block, and the inbuilt OLED screen displays all the information about your cook that you need to know. Bluetooth distance is limited, however, so to get the most out of your MEATER block, you’ll want to use either of the next 2 options.
- Connect using WiFi network – which extends your connectivity distance to 50m, or
- Connect via MEATER cloud – directly through the block, which theoretically means you can monitor your cook from anywhere!
I found I had issues connecting the MEATER block to the app at all. I’m glad I did, because it gave me a chance to check out the apps troubleshooting feature.
And I must say, it was spectacularly easy to use, going through a question and multiple choice answer type scenario to troubleshoot most common issues that users may experience.
Of course, it turned out to be a user error, in that I’d turned on Bluetooth on my phone, but completely overlooked turning on WiFi which the app helped me to quickly and easily fix.
Once I’d connected, I had a little play with the app and found it to be super intuitive and user friendly, even talking you through how and where to position the probes during a cook.
Even better is that once you’ve done a cook or two using the app, you’ll be able to use it without the walkthrough, and you can simply turn this walkthrough function off.
Testing the MEATER probe on a rotisserie cook
The major selling point of the MEATER is that it is wireless, so I decided to test it out on a rotisserie, as this is where it would really stand out as a point of difference against a probe that was connected to a base station using wires.
For good measure, I also tested it with a reverse sear on a thick Ribeye steak over charcoal.
I decided to make a Porchetta style pork belly as the first test cook for the meater, so after setting up my charcoal rotisserie, and tying up the porchetta, I opened the app and set up my cook.
This was incredibly simple to do, and as I found when playing with it, super intuitive. I inserted the probe as instructed, clicked on ‘start cook’ on the app, and set the rotisserie.
One of the unique features of the MEATER block is that each of the four probes has two sensors. One in the tip of the probe to measure the internal temp of the meat, and another at the non-pointy end to measure the ambient temp of your BBQ.
It then uses a special algorithm within the app to estimate the remaining cooking time based on the desired internal temperature that you entered when setting up the cook.
I found this particular feature lacking during this cook, as it took an absolute age to measure ambient temp.
I’m guessing that the fact that the probe was spinning in a rotisserie and not static on a grill would have had a huge part to play in this, with the temp monitor on the probe constantly moving from an area of high temp at the bottom of the spin to a much different temp at the top of the cycle.
I’d say this would make it very difficult to get a good read on ambient temperature and would explain the widely varying ‘time remaining’ during the cook.
The internal temp read at a very consistent temp, however, and I tested it often using my instant read thermometer.
Being able to monitor a constant internal temp of a rotisserie cook, without having to constantly stop the motor and check with an instant read thermometer, is a great feature to have.
Just load the app, set the probe, and monitor from the couch, right? Well, not exactly.
Despite the fact that the block was connecting perfectly to the probe right next to the BBQ, the signal through the cloud to my phone dropped out a LOT.
So much so, that I would be just as well getting up and checking with a Thermapen every 30 mins to check, rather than wait for the app to reconnect.
When it was connected, it was very accurate, and the block next to the BBQ in standalone mode would have monitored it perfectly. But I didn’t want to sit next to my BBQ for a few hours watching the temp monitor. Not this time anyway.
Reverse sear time
I had another cook in mind to test the MEATER, and wanted to see how it fared in a standard reverse sear style cook, and to see if my issues would be repeated.
The first thing I wanted to address was the signal dropping out. If this was repeated during a much shorter hot and fast cook, the temp could overshoot while the signal had dropped out, so I tried relocating the block.
I know the original Meater was plagued by connectivity issues and so for my first cook, I positioned the block as close to the probe as I could (on my BBQs side table) to maintain a good signal.
What I had not bargained on was that I had positioned it too far away from my router, and the signal from this was patchy.
When I checked the signal in the same place using my phone on WiFi, I experienced exactly the same signal, with the WiFi connection dropping out on my phone. User error again it seems!
For the second cook, I moved the MEATER block inside, closer to the router, but further away from the BBQ and the probe. I’d say it was around 4m away, and through a wall. Would it hold up?
Why yes it did! And it performed very well indeed!
I didn’t experience any connectivity issues with the app when I repositioned the block, nor did I experience any Bluetooth connectivity issues with the probe.
So how about the issue with the ambient temp? Well, my theory about the probe being in constant motion seemed to prove correct, and the MEATER’s algorithm proved really effective at working out an estimated cook time, and was accurate to within a couple of minutes, even though it changed slightly several times with the fluctuating temps of the charcoal.
Another one of the MEATER’s main selling points is the ability for it to completely walk you through a cook, and this is how I set it up for this cook.
You simply open the app, select which protein you are using – in this case, beef – and then you have a choice to select steak, roast or other, and then you select your cut from there, and then your desired internal temp, or how you’d like it cooked.
Of course, you have the option of fine tuning your desired internal temp. I had a thick bone-in ribeye, so selected the rib-eye option. After inserting the probe as instructed and putting the steak on the BBQ, over indirect heat, I let the MEATER do the rest.
I’m happy to say this worked exactly as described in the MEATERs video assistance.
I was directed to pull the steak slightly earlier and rest before a hot and fast sear, which came out great.
Slightly over what I would consider medium – I normally eat steak medium rare, but I decided to see how the MEATER would fare at a different temp.
I will tweak the temperature ever so slightly in my next cook to come slightly earlier.
All in all, I was really happy with the MEATER block, and it’s upgrades from the original MEATER, even with a couple of teething issues.
Overall, I was really happy with the performance of the MEATER block, for several reasons; Firstly, it appeals to my innate need as a man to utilize technology as a part of my hobby, as well as that same desire to make things easier for myself. It was easy to use and was also clearly built to last within its parameters.
The app is super simple and intuitive to use, and covers everything from the main protein cooks in several ways (roast, sear, etc), to other obscure proteins like Elk, which I really liked.
I would recommend the MEATER block to both newcomers to BBQ, but also, with a bit of fine tuning, to those more experienced barbecues. I’ll certainly be using it for BBQ competitions in standalone mode to make my life a lot easier when I’m cooking several different proteins.