Gadgets :: August 7, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

The kitchen and I were never best of friends. Since my wife is an awesome cook, my assignment for bigger meals is grilling and if there’s one thing she won’t tolerate its when I bring something to the table undercooked.

When I tried the MEATER true wireless smart meat thermometer a few years ago, my undercooked grilling issues were solved.  Now the company has taken wireless cooking temperature control to a new level with the recent launch of the four probe MEATER Block.

If you have never used a wireless cooking device, have no fear. The setup is simple and with the well-written quick-start manual you’ll be cooking in minutes. 

It works on WiFi or in standalone mode. The standalone mode does not require a smartphone or tablet; instead, the information is sent and displayed on the MEATER Block. 

The block (5.1-by-1.5-by-6.1-inches) has a responsive touch interface, an easy-to-read OLED display and built-in speakers to hear alerts. It’s powered by four AA batteries or USB power for about 50 hours and to charge the probes. When charged, each probe will last for about 24 hours on a single charge.

The system has four cooking probes, each with an engraved identification number on the top end, which will show the temperatures of each.

After your grill or oven is preheated and your food is ready for cooking, insert a probe into the thickest area of the meat. The probes make a Bluetooth connection from the grill or inside the over to the MEATER Block to relay the temperature, with a maximum cooking setting of 212-degrees Fahrenheit. All four probes can be used simultaneously in different meats, with each probe displaying its own information.

Using it in the WiFi mode, the free companion app (iOS and Android) on your  smartphone or tablet reads and displays temperatures for internal, target and ambient along with  cooking time remaining. You can set up alerts, alarms and notifications, which are incredibly helpful if you get distracted by a game on TV while cooking – not that that would ever happen to me.

The app is loaded with great features including cooking presets, videos and tutorials and MEATER cloud access.

Along with the stellar performance, Apption Labs put a lot of time, attention and detail into the packing and presentation of the MEATER Block, which comes with a bamboo storage box. While this aspect has no effect on the performance, it does enhance the overall experience and absolutely seals the deal that you bought an excellent high end product. $269

Soul Electronic’s ST-XS2 lightweight wireless earbuds are a fine edition to the company’s line of solid-sounding devices.

I can write about wireless earbuds weekly and I still get asked about the concept since they’re still relatively new and unknown to many.  These small earbuds work via Bluetooth 5.0, requiring no cords. There’s not even a place to plug a cord in to the 5g weighting earbuds.

Once you open the case and turn on the earbuds, after the initial connection is made, every connection after should be automatic.

Each of the 6mm speakers’ earbuds charge in the included case. Right now I have the new Soul’s blasting away at 32,000 feet at high volume with great clarity on an Apple Music decades station as I write this column. 

The sound is perfect with Soul’s incorporated transparent audio mode, which allows background sounds to penetrate through the earbuds, providing increased awareness of surroundings for safe listening no matter where you are.

These are built an industry-leading IPX7 waterproof rating, which is great since so many people use these type of headsets for sweaty workouts. Soul rates them to be durable in up to 3 feet of water along with sweat and water proofing.

One thing I loved is that the charging case uses a fast-charging USB-C connection. More and more devices are switching to this; I hope it will be an industry standard soon. The Soul ST-XS2s are the first of the true wireless I’ve seen to charge with the C, but I’m sure others are out or on the way.

The case is good for 25 total hours of charging with 5 hours needed for each charge.

Included are various  sized ear tips, a charging cable, ergonomic C-shaped ear hooks and a carabiner to attach to the case.  Microphones are in the earbuds for handsfree calls. $99.99, available in matte black, navy blue, pure white and sakura pink

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