Here at Angry BBQ, we’ve spent a lot of time around smokers cooking up some great food. We’ve also told ourselves and you, our audience, that temperature is one of the most important factors in determining whether food is done or not.
So when I got my hands on the new INKBIRD IBT-26S to put to the test, I was excited. Whether I’m smoking whole chickens, pork butts, chuck roasts, or reverse-searing steaks, I want to make sure I’m hitting the right temperatures. INKBIRD includes four color-coded temperature probes with this unit but it has the capacity to accommodate six. If you’ve got a big smoker and love to cook for a lot of people, this is the meat thermometer to keep an eye out for.
The capability to measure up to six independent temperatures at once is great, but how can I keep an eye on those measurements? The IBT-26S boasts both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so you can easily monitor temps whether you’re outside by your smoker, inside staying out of the heat (or cold if you’re cooking in the winter,) or even on the go as long as you’ve got internet connectivity.
In this review, we’ll be covering the features, the design, ownership experience, and wrapping it up with some final thoughts. Let’s get started.
|Rating 9.3Rating 9.3INKBIRD IBT-26S Thermometer||CHECK PRICE|
Overview of INKBIRD
INKBIRD started in 2010 in China as a company focused on high-tech equipment focused on developing devices to improve life around the house. You can find INKBIRD devices for a whole host of needs around the house, but the company has a number of thermometers aimed at people who grill, smoke barbecue, and cook in general. You can find instant-read thermometers as well as leave-in thermometers like the IBT-26S.
INKBIRD IBT-26S Overview & Specs
Whether you’re a BBQ competitor or simply love cooking in your own backyard for friends and family, the IBT-26S can help you get it done. It doesn’t matter if you’re reverse-searing steaks or smoking chickens, pork butts, or brisket, the IBT-26S will help you keep track of it all.
|Operating Temperature Range||Under 150°F (65°C)|
|Dimensions||3.46 x 3.42 x 0.9 in|
|Battery||Rechargeable using USB-C cable, included|
|Battery Life||40 hours on a full charge|
|Display Settings||0.1°F, can switch between °F and °C in the app, adjustable brightness in the app|
|Temp Reading Range||-22°-572°F (-30°-300°C)|
|Temp Reading Accuracy||To within 0.9°F/0.5°C|
|Thermometer Connection||WiFi (2.4GHz and 5GHz,) Bluetooth|
|Warranty||One-year warranty on defects in components and workmanship|
|Includes||Thermometer, 4 color-coded meat probes, 2 probe clamps, USB-C charging cable, user manual|
INKBIRD IBT-26S Features
With that overview out of the way, let’s dive into the features of the INKBIRD IBT-26S and how it stacks up.
1. INKBIRD App
The INKBIRD App is chock-full of features without being overwhelming. It connects easily to the thermometer via Bluetooth and WiFi, so whether you’re sitting near your smoker or keeping tabs on your brisket while at work, you can always see what the thermometer sees. The WiFi connection is one of the most noteworthy features of the app and the IBT-26S. While most Wi-Fi-enabled wireless meat thermometers connect to the 2.4GHz band of your wireless router, the IBT-26S can connect to either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band. That can help alleviate some stress on the frequently-used 2.4GHz band for better wireless connection and performance. As long as the IBT-26S is within range of the 5GHz network, you’ll get a great connection with no lag in temperature results.
The app itself can connect to any of the WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled INKBIRD devices which is convenient if you have multiple products from them.
One of the interesting features of the app is that you control all the display features of the thermometer directly from the app. You can toggle between Celsius (the default) and Fahrenheit through the app as well as change the brightness level of the backlit LCD screen.
The app also allows you to track up to six temperatures at a single time. You can use any of the 26 included presets based on USDA health recommendations or set custom target temperatures. You can view real-time temperatures as well as see a graph representation of the length of the cook.
2. Four Included Color-Coded Meat Probes With Capacity For Six
When you open the smaller black box inside the main box, you’ll find four color-coded meat probes. While some companies use colored silicone rings to help you keep track of which probe corresponds to which piece of meat, INKBIRD decided against that. I’ve encountered situations where the rings slide off, leaving me guessing. Instead, INKBIRD made the end of the probe that goes into the main thermometer as well as the base of the probe itself colored. It’s visually appealing and you won’t fall prey to anything falling off when cleaning or using the probes. The company also included four silicone tip protectors and cable wraps. You don’t have to worry about someone getting stabbed when reaching for the probes nor do you have to untangle them each time you want to use them.
INKBIRD included four probes, but the unit itself can accommodate six total probes. Five of the slots are designed for use in meat with full access to the 23 cooking presets in the app. The other port is marked as “Oven” on the main unit and is primarily designed to measure ambient temperature in your grill, smoker, or oven. You can manually set it for your desired temperature in the app and use it as a meat thermometer, you just won’t have presets that will do the work for you.
3. Rechargeable Battery
One of the most convenient features of the INKBIRD IBT-26S is the built-in rechargeable battery. You don’t have to worry about scrounging for AA or AAA batteries (or heaven forbid, a button watch battery.) Instead, you plug the main unit into the wall with a charging block and the included USB-C charging cable. According to INKBIRD, it takes about two and a half hours to fully charge the unit, and it will run for 30 hours on a full charge.
4. Multiple Display / Storage Modes
Weird phrasing, yes, but stick with me. INKBIRD gave the main unit two ways for you to display it better while using, one of which can also help keep the unit close at hand when storing it. Sure, you can just lay the main unit flat, but that isn’t the best way to see the screen. So the IBT-26S has a folding kickstand in the back to help elevate it slightly. It also has a built-in magnet. You can stick it on the side of your pellet grill’s hopper or the metal side shelf of your smoker. When you’re done, you can stick it on the side of your fridge or any other handy magnetic surface so it doesn’t take up precious storage space.
|Rating 9.3Rating 9.3INKBIRD IBT-26S Thermometer||CHECK PRICE|
INKBIRD IBT-26S Review
From the moment I opened the box, I was struck by the look of the IBT-26S. It’s a gorgeous, futuristic-looking thermometer. The probes, as noted above, are pre-color-coded and look good as well. Its small size makes it convenient to store and use without sacrificing any features due to the app itself.
However, where does the IBT-26S stack up where it matters? We’re going to look at Accuracy, Connectivity, App Functionality, and Battery Life.
INKBIRD boasts that the IBT-26S is accurate within 0.9°F within the optimal temperature range. I tested that against one of my instant-read thermometers and the temperatures were even closer than that on a ham I smoked. When we’re dealing with smoking food, we aren’t necessarily looking for accuracy within half a degree Fahrenheit, but it’s good to know that we can absolutely trust the accuracy of this unit.
The ability of the IBT-26S to connect to the INKBIRD App via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is great. One of the biggest selling points of this unit is its ability to connect to 2.4GHz or 5GHz in case your router has a number of devices connected to one band or the other. Whether I’m standing next to my grill or inside the house, I don’t have to worry about losing connection. Bluetooth made the initial setup of the thermometer easy and is great for taking the thermometer on to go when camping or just going to the park for the day. I did not have a single issue with dropping a connection even when monitoring through multiple walls on WiFi.
The INKBIRD App is easy to use for the basic features. I can select one of the presets for whatever I’m monitoring, and then from there I can even select varying levels of doneness depending on what cut of meat it is. I also have the ability to set a custom target temperature, but that’s where I experienced one of my few issues with this thermometer. Rather than using a keypad for input or a simple scroll, you need to rotate a “dial” to set the temperature. Multiple times when I was attempting to set a custom temperature, rotating the dial would start out fine and then start decreasing the temperature no matter which way I rotated the dial. I would have to let go and start again, being very careful to move my finger slowly. I was certainly able to get the correct temperature, but it felt frustrating and needlessly troublesome.
Once you’ve got your target set, the app is easy to read. You can view the current temperature and your target temperature or you can choose to look at the graph of the cooking session so you can see the progression. You can set the alarms that will not only notify you through the app but also at the main unit.
The other major issue I had with the app indirectly deals with the graph view. INKBIRD says that you can view previous cooking sessions for up to a month. However, the only way to access that information is through the graph section of the probe. So you need to either access a previous alert for that probe through the app’s message system or have the unit turned on and a probe plugged into the correct port. Then you need to go to the graph page and select the appropriate date. That means if you want to review the data for when you smoked say, four pork butts, you need four probes plugged in and remember the exact date you smoked them. It’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, it simply feels too complex.
The app serves as not only the main monitoring spot for your cooking session, it also serves as the place to edit the settings on the main unit. You can increase or decrease the LCD screen’s brightness and switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
The IBT-26S has a built-in rechargeable battery that INKBIRD says can run for 30 hours on a single charge. I haven’t put that to the test to see if it will run continuously that long because I haven’t ever done a cooking session that comes close to that total. However, I do enjoy the fact that it’s easy to charge with the included USB-C cable. You should be able to fully charge the unit in under three hours.
Overall Fit And Finish
The INKBIRD IBT-26S is the sleekest, clean-looking wireless meat thermometer I’ve seen. The front of the main unit is glossy black with what INKBIRD calls a “champagne gold” screen border. It’s light and small, yet can accommodate six probes at once. The kickstand at the back of the unit is easy to flip out and holds the unit steady. It doesn’t increase the angle all that much, but it can make a difference. The display is black with light blue numbers and icons.
You can tell with a quick glance whether the thermometer is connected via WiFi or Bluetooth (or both!) It shows the current temperature, target temperature, and even what type of meat you’re cooking if you’re using a preset. The display even has a battery charge indicator (as does the app.) The main unit only has one button for turning the unit on and off as well as helping with connectivity (covered in the included manual.)
One of the most standout visual features is the probes themselves. As noted earlier, you don’t need to add silicone rings or anything to denote which probe goes with which spot on the unit. The probes that come with the unit are blue, green, red, and gold. The end of each probe cable that plugs into the main unit is plastic, while the base of the probe is the matching color but metal. It’s smart and looks good.
INKBIRD Customer Service And Support
I have not had any issues where I needed to reach out to INKBIRD Customer Service. However, if you need to do so, support problems are handled through the company’s support-specific email address.
INKBIRD IBT-26S Warranty
The IBT-26S is backed with a one-year warranty against defects in components and workmanship.
Do We Recommend The INKBIRD IBT-26S?
Here at Angry BBQ, we’ve tested a number of wireless meat thermometers. The IBT-26S is arguably the most affordable offering we’ve encountered that delivers great connectivity and the ability to monitor up to six temperatures at once all in one of the best-looking packages I’ve seen. I would absolutely recommend the IBT-26S even with the couple of issues I encountered with the app.
What I Like About The INKBIRD IBT-26S
- Outstanding connectivity whether I’m using WiFi or Bluetooth.
- Ability to monitor up to six different temperatures in one small package
- Pre-color-coded probes to distinguish between the different cuts of meat I’m monitoring easier than ever
What Makes Me Angry About The INKBIRD IBT-26S
- A couple of issues I had with the app, namely the clunkiness of setting custom temperatures and reviewing previous cooking sessions
Our Final Verdict
The INKBIRD IBT-26S is arguably the most affordable wireless meat thermometer I’ve used and it delivers accurate results while maintaining a great connection to the app via both Bluetooth and WiFi. If you spend a lot of time smoking meat, I would highly recommend looking at this wireless meat thermometer, especially if you’re smoking more than one piece of meat at a time.
|Rating 9.3Rating 9.3INKBIRD IBT-26S Thermometer||CHECK PRICE|