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Saturday, May 30, 2009

REVIEW: ThermoWorks Splash Proof Thermapen

posted by snekse
It looks like someone at ThermoWorks saw my Review of the Original ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen and liked what I had to say. They offered to send me their newest model ahead of it's official release date (June 1st, 2009). Um, hell yes, bring it on.

Introducing the all new and improved, been in design for 2 years...

ThermoWorks Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen thermocouple thermometer

Yeah, they could have picked a smaller, catchier name.

So I'm not going to rehash all the things I loved about the Original Thermapen. I'll let you read that review first to get up to speed. Go ahead - I'll wait. Alright, now that you're back, let's talk about what's been improved, what's been messed up and what flaws were never addressed in this new design.

First let's go over what Thermoworks considers to be the highlights of their new Splash-Proof Thermapen:
  • 3-second readings!
  • Improved accuracy and durability
  • Water-resistant design
  • Biomaster anti-bacterial additive
  • °F to °C reconfigurable
  • 0.1° resolution full range to 572°F
  • Auto on/off—no buttons!
  • 1,500 hour battery life
If you're interested in the nitty-gritty spec details, you can check out their website. I'll cover what I think is important.

We'll start with the name. I wouldn't have felt the need to seal the case and make it splash proof until a couple of weeks ago when my mother was hand washing dishes and washed my original Thermapen. It came out fine, but I'd have been less worried if the case was sealed. It's still not meant to be submerged, but it's a good start. Now if they made it dishwasher safe, that would be really cool.

Speed and accuracy are next on my cool improvements list. This thing is even faster and more accurate than the original. It's usually in the ballpark in under 1 second and will have a pretty accurate reading in about 3 seconds. And by accurate, I mean within ±0.7°F with the digital display now showing the temperature measured in 0.1° increments, so you'll know if that 64°C for your perfect molecular gastronomy inspired soft boiled egg is really 63.6°C or 64.4°C. These are actually my favorite improvements.

Jumping back to the splash proof design, let me point out what's changed. There is now a rubber seal merging the front and back of the Thermapen. This seal makes rotating the pen into the "ON" position seem stiff at first, but I've read this should only impact new thermometers. The new case design has also made it almost impossible to stand the device upright. I have mixed feelings about this, but I don't think it will be something that will bother me at all in a couple of weeks.

The area around the digital display has also changed. The screen is now flush with the Biomaster anti-bacterial molding to prevent grime build up; it is also slightly larger and has been moved to the left. This makes the numbers a little easier to read, but I think it lacks the contrast that the original screen had, which makes it a little harder to read.

The opening for the battery compartment has also been re-designed. The new battery, which is expected to last 15 times longer than the original, sits in a round compartment on the back with a tethered cover. Unfortunately I think the plastic latches are too thin since mine either arrived with one of the latches broken or it broke soon after arrival. I'm sure ThermoWorks would address the issue if I sent it back to them, but still a spot for improvement. ***UPDATE*** ThermoWorks called me on the Monday after I posted this. They are sending me a new unit with a return shipment label so I can send the original back to them. I've heard from others they have great customer service; I'll concur.

Inside that battery compartment are a series of tiny switches. These switches allow you to customize some of the behaviors of your Thermapen. Are you like the folks at Cook's Illustrated and would prefer the unit to not automatically turn off? Just flip a switch. Want readings in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit? Flip a switch. Nice options to have, but I like the defaults.

The unit is still expensive, but again, there's really nothing else close on the market. The new Splashproof Thermapen is about $20 more than the original super-fast Thermapen. Is it worth it? Well if you have the original, I think there's no need to upgrade unless you work at Sea World or something. But what about those who don't have either? Is it worth the extra money to get the newer design? I guess it depends on what you plan on using it for. For me, the quicker I can get a ballpark temp, the better. And at this price point, an extra $20 doesn't seem like a whole lot more.

So I still highly recommend either of these Thermapens, I just can't flatly recommend one over the other. I've given them both the same score based on functionality and price. Now if I could get them to send me an Infrared Thermometer to review...

Rating: 90

RELATED LINKS:
REVIEW: The Original ThermoWorks Super-fast Thermapen Thermometer
BUY: The Original Super-Fast Thermapen from Amazon
BUY: The Original Super-Fast Thermapen from ThermoWorks
BUY: The New Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen from ThermoWorks

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