How to cook and celebrate on Thanksgiving the gadget way
Thanksgiving Day is upon us.
It's a national holiday celebrated primarily in the US as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's really just about eating delicious turkey, copious amounts of drinking, watching some football, tuning into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and spending time with family.
But it's also time for breaking out the latest gadgets. There's tech for checking turkey temperatures, storing turkeys, cooking turkeys, mixing drinks, brewing tea, watching Macy's parade via your mobile device, and more. If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving the gadget way this year, check out Pocket-lint's complete round-up below.
First things first, you need to get prepared. This means getting all your tools in order, one of which should be a thermometer for checking the turkey. Nobody wants an overcooked or (even worse) undercooked turkey. Luckily, there are plenty of smart thermometers available intended to streamline the whole cooking process. They'll even let you post pictures of the finished product to Facebook. Check out a few options below.
1. iGrill - $79.95 (£49): The iGrill has been around for a few years, but it burst on to the scene and revolutionised the way we bake, smoke, cook and grill. The iGrill communicates with your iOS or Android device via a long-range Bluetooth connection, and it pairs with the iGrill app. The app has features for setting temperature options, multiple probe support, customisable temperature alarms, remaining cooking time, viewing recipes, posting to Facebook, and more.
2. iGrillmini - $39.99 (£25): This is the next-generation iGrill. Unfortunately, it doesn't start shipping until 16 December. You therefore won't be able to use it for this year's Thanksgiving, but you can always whip it out for the Christmas turkey. iDevices, the company behind iGrill, said it "took everything you love about the iGrill, added a ton of cool new features and packed them into a rugged, pocket-sized design". The iGrillmini again connects to a mobile device using Bluetooth, though it uniquely features a smart LED, proximity sensor, extended battery life of 150 hours, and magnetic mounting. There's also a a new app.
3. Williams-Sonoma Smart Thermometer - $199.95 (£123): This is a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermometer that connects to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch via an iOS app and tracks the temperature of your turkey. Just place the probe in the turkey (the app will show you where), and then the Smart Thermometer will show you the remaining cooking time. It'll also send updates to your phone. You can even schedule start times using custom alerts or use timers to track tasks. Lastly, you can use the app to post pictures on Facebook and Twitter. ( Android support is coming in 2014.)
You need a place to store that thawing turkey (and leftovers), and a place to cook everything come Thanksgiving. You could use a standard oven and fridge for all of that, or you could get with the 21st century and use smart appliances. They're interactive, useful and cost a pretty penny. If money isn't an object, check out a few options below.
1. LG Smart ThinQ: This range features appliances which are all integrated to work seamlessly with each other. There are refrigerators that will let you input and manage food types and expiration periods and use smartphones or tablets to check food lists. There are stoves and ovens with complementary cooking management apps, making it easier than ever for you to plan meals, set temperature controls remotely, monitor self-cleaning, and more. Pricing isn't too bad either. For instance: The LG LRE3027ST oven costs $1,399 (£860).
2. GE Brillion: GE Brillion technology allows you to interact with your appliances using your iPhone or Android smartphone. Currently, the app only works with certain GE wall ovens, but more connected home appliances are on the way in 2014. With a Brillion-enabled wall oven and the app, you can use your mobile device to preheat the oven, change temperatures and set cooking modes and timers. You can also access your oven settings (temperature offsets, auto shut-off, clock, etc). Pricing is super steep, though. For instance: The GE Profile Built-In Double Convection Wall Oven is $3,699 (£2,274)
3. Samsung Fridges with apps: Samsung offers a range of Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators featuring 8-inch LCD touchscreens. They display apps for things like checking the weather, browsing the web for recipes, exploring social networks or leaving notes for your family. You can also preview photos from your Picasa library, mobile phone or SD card, stay up to date with access to Google Calendar, and get the latest news via Associated Press. All of this interactive information is available directly from the refrigerator door. The 28 cu. ft. 4-Door Refrigerator costs $1,999 (£1,229).
READ: Phillips Hue review
4. Phillips Hue - Starter pack is $199.95 (£180): Beyond appliances for food, sometimes the best Holiday treats are about creating atmosphere. And Phillips Hue can do just that, because it's a wireless lighting system that lets you control up to 50 light bulbs via a smartphone app. Light is a very powerful thing, whether it is turning on your lights to see what you are doing or simply dimming them to create a more romantic or relaxed setting, there is plenty to play with.
Thanksgiving isn't just about the turkey and traditional cooking experience. Sometimes people like to drink tea or make a cocktail. There are even alternative oven machines for those who really want to amp up their gadget experience this Thanksgiving. Whatever kind of person you are, there is no doubt a piece of technology available that's best suited to you. Check out the options below, for instance.
1. Monsieur - $3,999 (£2,455): Described as an artificially intelligent robot bartender, the Monsieur comes filled with 300 different cocktail recipes, theme packages, cocktail history, and it has the ability to take suggestions. The premise is that you can install Monsieur at home, then order drinks using an iOS or Android app on your smartphone. Monsieur has a touchscreen user interface, thermoelectric coolers, peristaltic pumps, sensors, and other mechanical components to deliver precision mixology. It works via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, or Zigbee to determine who is home and connect to them. From there, it'll take requests and serve up whatever your heart desires.
2. iKettle Wi-Fi-connected tea kettle - $160.79 ( £100): iKettle is the world's first Wi-Fi Kettle. You can just turn it on remotely, from anywhere in your home, using an app via a smartphone connected to Wi-Fi. It notably has a Wake Up and Welcome Home mode, timer, four temperature settings, Keep Warm feature, removable filter, auto-shut off with boil-dry protection, soft-touch handle and LED backlit control panel. The temperature settings are especially handy feature for hot-drink connoisseurs, because they can program their iKettle to serve Green Tea at 80F or Coffee at 95F. The very best part? You can set an alarm in the app so it will wake you up with a morning message and a boiled kettle.
3. NuWave Infrared Oven - $120 (£74): This Infrared Oven will allegedly cook faster and use much less energy than a conventional oven. It leverages infrared technology, convection and direct heat, and it claims to cook a 15-pound turkey. It can even bake cookies, cakes, cheesecake or pies. As for what it looks like, it has a round, plastic dome that covers the heating element and fan. It comes with three extender rings, which allow you to add more room at the top of the oven, as well as two cooking racks, a ceramic baking pan, a chart of cooking times, an instructional DVD and recipe cards.
4. Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand - $39.99 (£25): This duo is made specifically for use in the kitchen. The Chef Stand and Stylus gives you the freedom to interact with your tablet while you cook a turkey—and you won't have to worrying about touching your device with salmonella-laced hands either. The stand fits most cases, has a non-slip rubber base, and it bends to two different angles. Pretty handy, eh? (Excuse the pun.)
5. Prep pad - $145.95 ($90): Prep Pad is the smart food scale. It's suppose to give you "real-time" nutritional insight into your food as you prepare meals, helping you to eat and make better decisions. It has a complimentary Countertap app that gives you visualisations of Protein, Carbs, Fats, and more. While it's certainly useful, it may make you think twice about going for seconds on Thanksgiving Day.
We can't have a round-up of the best Thanksgiving gadgets without mentioning apps. After all, the best gadgets are our mobile devices. There are plenty of apps for planning holiday meals, preparing the turkey, etc, and there's even some Thanksgiving-themed entertainment apps. The best part is, most of them are free. Check out a few apps below.
1. Butterball Cookbook Plus for iOS - Free: This app offers over 250 great recipes and and simple directions for making a great Thanksgiving dinner. It also has voice commands, so you can prepare recipes hands free.
2. Thanksgiving: A Bon Appétit Manual for iOS - Free: This app features 101 recipes, as well as tips, how-tos, and instructional videos that will help make your Thanksgiving meal perfect this year.
3. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for iOS (and Android) - Free: This app is the official mobile app for the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It features up-to-the-minute news and the ability to create an augmented reality parade balloon. You can also get behind-the-scenes balloon prep and more.
And that's it. If you find anything else worth mentioning, leave us a comment below. Happy Thanksgiving! (One more thing: For those of you who need help shedding a few pounds after Thanksgiving, Withings, FitBit and iHealth all make smartphone-connected and Wi-Fi-enabled scales with nifty features for measuring weight loss and setting and tracking goals.)