Confessions of a Consumer IoT Skeptic: Char-Broil SmartChef Wifi Gas Grill?!


Introduction

I recently saw an advertisement for a new gas grill that connects to Wifi and has an App: The Char-Broil SmartChef Gas Grill. Who would do such a thing? What were they thinking? How could they let this happen? What advantages does this provide?!

WHAT?!

Let’s start with what this is. It initially looks like your typical 3-burner gas grill with a side-burner. But there is a side-panel with lights, some buttons, a propane level indicator, and two input ports. The input ports are for thermometer sensors. The propane level indicator’s job is obvious - it indicates the level of propane.

What are the buttons and lights for?

Here’s where it starts to get weird. There is an On/Off power button, and then there’s a separate start/stop button with a status light. Just in case you wanted your grill to be on, but the burners to be off. Seriously?! Finally, there’s a Wi-Fi Connection Status Button - push the button to connect to WiFi, then it lights up to show that it’s connected. Why. Seriously… why do I need this? If this grill is so smart, then why can’t it figure out when it’s not connected to wifi?

WHY?!

There are so many problems with this that it’s hard to even know where to begin.

Let’s start with the cost. The ONLY feature that distinguishes this $800 grill from their $400 Signature Series is the Wifi. You can buy a good WiFi thermometer probe for $150 and a wifi propane level meter for $50. So you can have the same features for half the cost.

Then, there’s the fact that the grill has to be plugged in for the gas burners to even be functional. Are you KIDDING ME?! I can’t even use this as a dumb grill without electricity! It must require that so that you’ve got a chance at being in-range for wifi in your yard. Standing in front of the grill on a nice summer night with a refreshing beer is called grilling. This thing doesn’t even have a bottle opener. At this point, why even own a grill?

To top things off, the only review that I could find for this product was from a paid reviewer who even panned the setup process as “complicated and frustrating”. If you can’t get a paid reviewer to say good things about the process, then you know it’s bad.

In Summary: Yes, I’m a charcoal guy.

This is what’s wrong with the Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) market. By trying to think “outside of the box” they look for solutions to problems that don’t exist. Nobody has a problem that a WiFi grill would solve. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that propane provides inferior flavor to charcoal grilled meats. That’s just the final nail in the coffin for the Char-Broil SmartChef Gas Grill.