The fine people at Fireboard have once again raised the bar for WiFi meat thermometers with their release of the Fireboard 2 Drive meat thermometer.
The Fireboard 2 Drive Meat Thermometer is one of three new models that are part of their FBX2 series of thermometers.
The FBX2 series is the new generation of smart meat thermometers updated from the first generation of Fireboard thermometers or FBX11 series.
The new FBX2 series of thermometers include the Fireboard 2 or FBX2, the Fireboard 2 Drive or FBX2D, and the Fireboard 2 Pro or FBX2K.
REVIEW UPDATE September 2020: The Fireboard 2 now has a separate magnetic base that you can purchase. This solves the issue of it tipping over, so disregard any references to that in this review.
All of the Fireboard 2 series thermometers share the same basic design with a few differences between them.
For this review, I will focus mostly on the Fireboard 2 Drive meat thermometer that has the Drive technology that controls the smoker fan integrated into the thermometer.
I will also discuss the upgraded features of the Fireboard 2 Drive meat thermometer, how it differs from the other Fireboard 2 series thermometers, as well as how it compares to other WiFi meat thermometers on the market.
Fireboard 2 Drive Meat Thermometer
The Fireboard 2 Drive meat thermometer is a cloud-connected smart thermometer that tracks temperature via WiFi or Bluetooth, or you can use it as a stand-alone thermometer with its nice multi-option screen.
You can use the Fireboard 2 as either a standalone thermometer, a Bluetooth thermometer, or connected to WiFi.
It also has voice-enabled technology that connects to Alexa or Google Home so you can impress your easily-impressed friends.
I want to come clean now before I go too far in this review. I had stayed away from the original Fireboard thermometer because the thermometer body didn’t offer any type of weather protection unless you purchased a separate case.
It rains a lot where I live so this feature is non-negotiable for me in a WiFi meat thermometer. My prayers were answered with the Fireboard 2 and its built-in weather-resistant case.
Couple that with its new large display that is easily visible even at night and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.
The display screen can be controlled via the three buttons on the side, creating a straightforward user experience.
The Fireboard 2 Series of Thermometers: What Are the Differences?
With three new options to choose from, you’re probably wondering what are the differences between each one? Well, they are all pretty similar except for a few differences.
- The Fireboard 2- The base model of the Fireboard 2 series. It doesn’t come with the Drive technology integrated into the thermometer body like the Fireboard 2 Drive.
- The Fireboard 2 Drive- The Fireboard 2 Drive has the integrated drive technology inside the thermometer body, eliminating the need for a separate drive cable. Costs $60 more than the Fireboard 2 model.
- The Fireboard 2 Pro- The Fireboard 2 Pro has the integrated drive technology like the Fireboard 2 Drive, except it uses thermocouple probes. It will be released in August 2020.
Fireboard 2 vs the Original Fireboard
How is the new Fireboard 2 series of thermometers different from the original Fireboard? Here is a list of the important features that are upgraded in the Fireboard 2 thermometer from the original Fireboard.
- Weather-Resistant Case
This is a major upgrade from the original Fireboard which had no weatherproofing whatsoever.
- Large Multi-View Graphing Display
The original Fireboard has a small temperature display whereas the Fireboard 2 has a large screen capable of multiple displays showing up to 6 different probe temperatures.
- Integrated Drive Control with a dedicated Fan Port (with the Fireboard 2 Drive model)
The Fireboard 2 Drive has the Drive technology inside the device whereas with the original Fireboard you needed a separate cable. The basic Fireboard 2 doesn’t have the 2.5 mm Fan Port, just the 8 pin expansion port.
The Fireboard 2 still uses the same Fireboard app as the original and the same probes as well. (other than the thermocouple Fireboard 2 Pro)
Will the Drive Cable From the Original Fireboard Work With the Fireboard 2?
Yes. The Drive accessory will work with all of the Fireboard 2 series models. If you have the original Fireboard and wanted to upgrade then you wouldn’t need to buy a new fan as well, which is nice.
That compatibility is a nice feature, so what are the other features of the Fireboard 2 meat thermometer?
The Fireboard 2 Drive has a multiple-view graphing LCD screen that is capable of showing the digits upside-down if you need to maneuver your probes in relation to your smoker.
However, the Fireboard 2 Drive is much more than a fancy LCD screen, here are the main features and specifications.
The physical components inside Fireboard 2 Drive thermometer’s box include:
- The FBX2D Unit
The unit itself is 4.4 inches wide by 2.8 inches high by 1.1 inches thick.
- 2 Food Probes and One Ambient Probe
I really like the probes as the handles and transitions are made from stainless steel and very sturdy. The probes are 5 inches long with a 90-degree angle towards the handle for easy extraction. They have a range of 0 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.
The probe cables are 6 feet and are flexible and don’t kink up like most cables.
- Grill Clip
It’s a grill clip, nothing fancy.
- USB Type-C cable and charger
A lot of WiFi meat thermometers are moving towards USB-C type chargers for power delivery because they deliver more power to a device faster.
- User Guide
A helpful user guide is also included that helps you set up your Fireboard, connecting to the app, and using the Fireboard Drive system to set up your fan.
- Power Input- 5VDC-12VDC, USB-C
- Measurement Accuracy- +-0.7 Fahrenheit
- Measuring Range- -94 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit
- Wireless- WiFi: 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0
- Weight 8 oz.
- Battery Type / Life- Li-ion 4000mAh/ 30 hours runtime
- LCD display – 256×128 black and white backlit display
- Probe Ports- 2.5 mm phone jack
- Aux Port- 8pin Mini DIN
- Drive Port- 2.5 mm Barrel
- Operating temperature- -13 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
Using the Fireboard 2 Drive Meat Thermometer
You can operate the Fireboard in 3 different ways. The Fireboard can be used as a standalone thermometer that’s not connected to the internet. You can operate from the three buttons on the side of the device.
If you don’t have internet you can still connect to the Fireboard to your phone via Bluetooth and operate it that way. The maximum Bluetooth range of the Fireboard is around 100 feet depending on obstacles and your device’s connectivity.
Here’s more info on the differences between Bluetooth and WiFi connections for meat thermometers.
If you’ve set up your Fireboard to any wireless networks it will automatically re-connect when it’s turned on. A new cooking session will also start once the cooking probes are being used.
The three buttons on the side of the thermometer device allow you to navigate between screens. There are 4 primary viewing options that you can view by pushing the top button. The middle button will change the active channel being displayed. The bottom button will show additional details or adjust the temperature chart range.
The buttons are silent and don’t make any beeping sounds.
The Fireboard App
You can download the Fireboard App from the Apple App Store or Google play store. From there you just follow the basic set up instructions and you’re ready to grill.
There are four main sections in the Fireboard app.
This is the area where you can monitor the real-time temperatures and current session graphs. You can set alerts, name channels, hide channels, add notes, and share your session with others.
This section will show your previous sessions with notes and start and end times that can be edited.
This is where you can create Drive programs based on time, temperature, or both.
You can edit your account and device settings here.
Operating the Drive Fan
Connecting a fan to a WiFi meat thermometer can be a daunting task for some. The Fireboard 2 Drive thermometer has all of the needed technology to control the fan integrated inside making it the easiest to set up of all the fans I’ve tested.
The blower fan plugs directly into the Fireboard 2 Drive’s main body and is powered by the thermometer’s battery. The thermometer can be attached to power if needed while operating the fan.
The blower fan comes with both large and small mounting brackets to fit a variety of different smoker models.
For more information on attaching the blower fan to specific models like Kamodo-style cookers see Fireboard’s installation page.
To operate the blower fan you simply go into the programs section of the Fireboard app and add a new drive program according to your specific cook.
The accuracy test and accompanying photo took all of 5 minutes. I placed one of the Fireboard’s probes into hot water on the stove and then checked its temperature reading with the Thermapen MK4.
I only did one take to get this photo:
Ok, moving on.
Durability is a trait measured over time. It is still too early to tell how well the Fireboard 2 will hold up to the wear-and-tear of repeated use.
However, I think the new water-resistant case makes this version of the Fireboard way more durable than the original.
The probe ports on top of the thermometer concern me with rain getting in there but I have no evidence that will be a problem. ( See the “my one gripe” section below.)
Fireboard 2 vs Thermoworks Signals
How does the Fireboard 2 compare to the Thermoworks Signals 4-probe WiFi meat thermometer? Thermoworks thermometers are the most accurate thermometers on the market and the Signals is no exception.
Aside from the accuracy, how does their WiFi meat thermometer, the Signals, measure up in terms of its screen interface as well as its mobile app?
Well, for starters the Fireboard 2’s screen is a step up in terms of functionality.
Although the Thermoworks Signals screen is nice and has separate sections for each thermometer, it doesn’t have the screen-changing ability of the Fireboard 2.
Thermoworks just updated its mobile app and it is a vast improvement over the previous version. The new app is called the Thermoworks Cloud and it really is nice. It has multiple probe detailed graphing capability that is also fully adjustable to your specific cooking situation. I will do a full update on this new app soon, it looks like a game-changer.
I will say the base of the Thermoworks Signals is sturdier than the Fireboard 2 and won’t tip over, so that’s a plus for them.
The Signals also a fan attachment called Billows.
The Billows fan from Thermoworks connects to the Signals via the USB-C port and can be powered via the fan adapter USB-C split cable.
So, which one is better, the Signals or the Fireboard 2? It’s hard to say, but the new Thermoworks Cloud app has definitely changed the playing field. It’s too close to call fro me right now. I will see how the new app works out, but for right now they are both solid thermometers.
Fireboard 2 vs Tappecue Touch
How does the Fireboard 2 compare to the Tappecue Touch WiFi meat thermometer? The Touch is a similar WiFi meat thermometer that can connect to a blower fan to regulate your smoker temperature.
I will say that the Fireboard 2 is way easier to set up and connect to your WiFi than the Touch thermometer.
With the Touch, you have to plug in your email and router info on the device with a stylus pen. This is cumbersome and annoying.
The Fireboard’s app is easier to use in that it automatically connects and shows the probe temperatures whereas the Touch’s mobile app forces you to ‘start a new session’ and then add each probe individually.
I do like that Tappecue is expanding the Touch’s functionality with its new AirProbe but time will tell on the value of this feature.
While connecting the blower fan to the unit isn’t difficult with the Touch, the Fireboard 2 Drive’s integrated system is pretty seamless.
I like the Tappecue Touch but I think the Fireboard 2 is easier to use with more features.
My Two Gripes About the Fireboard 2 Thermometer
Although the thermometer body is weather-resistant, I am concerned about all of the probe ports on the top of the thermometer letting water in if it’s rained on.
Now, I am not saying this design quirk will make this thermometer more vulnerable to water, I have no evidence of this. All I know is that the other water-resistant WiFi thermometers (the Tappecue Touch, the Signals, and the SmokeBloq) have their probe ports on the side of the thermometer.
Yes, you can flip the thermometer over and have the probe ports on the bottom while the screen display rotates upside down. However, there’s no way to stand up the thermometer with the probes protruding from the bottom.
You could lay the thermometer down on its side but that defeats the purpose of the nice viewing display. This leads me to the other design issue of the Fireboard, it gets knocked over easily with the probes attached. Again not a huge issue but a sturdier base like the Thermoworks Signals would have been nice.
The Fireboard 2 Drive WiFi meat thermometer has the best interactive screen you’ll find on a meat thermometer.
The new weather-resistant body is a great addition, it has the most advanced display screen out of all the WiFi meat thermometers, and it’s easy to use with a bevy of data-storing options. Also, the fan is easy to hook up and operate.
Is it perfect? No. The thermometer has a tendency to get knocked over when multiple probes are being used. It doesn’t have a good base option to stabilize it or a magnet on the back to stick it to something. Not a big deal but something to be aware of.
The Fireboard 2 Drive isn’t cheap, clocking in at $249, but it more than makes up for it with all of its nice features.
Fireboard has definitely upped the stakes for the rest of the WiFi meat thermometer manufacturers on the market in terms of its interactive display screen.
Hey, competition is good, because you know who wins? We do, the consumers.