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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Maverick ET-733 First Impressions

First Image
This blog comes as a bit of a surprise to me. It is a review of the new Maverick ET-733 a new and improved version of the ET-732. It is the third generation model of a line which started with the ET-73, which was followed up by the second generation ET-732 several years ago. I bought my ET-72 in 2005 and my ET-732 in 2012. This model is the third generation model. I had been thinking of getting a second ET-732 for use with my second Big Green Egg, when I start seeing hints online of a new Maverick unit coming out soon. I decided to wait a while and sure enough the ET-733 was announced in late November. I just received my new unit in the mail and what follows are my initial impressions of the new unit and a description of the changes.

“Second

Although the picture on the cover shows a white unit, it seems they are pushing black as the stock color.

“Third“Fourth

Here is what is inside the box: The transmitter & receiver units, batteries, two hybrid probes & two grill clips.

“Fifth

The new receiver unit is now 3/4” taller to accommodate the addition information from the probes & the meat doneness settings.


BIG PICTURE:
The ET-733 still consists of two units: a transmitter that sits out at the grill and wirelessly transmits the signals from the two wired temperature probes plugged in to it. There is a receiver which receives the signal from the transmitter from up to 300 feet away. With 3 big exceptions the new model looks like the earlier ET-732. The first change is cosmetic.The unit is black versus the white of the earlier unit. It also seems like current versions of the ET-732 now comes in multiple colors too. The second change is the receiver now has a bigger screen and displays more information. The third change is that to accommodate the bigger screen, the receiver unit is about 3/4" (2cm) taller. Other than the black color, the 733's transmitter appearance is identical to the 732. These are the big picture items. I will continue below with a list of the changes and improvements, as well as cover the major features for folks who aren’t familiar with the Maverick line.

“Sixth

The display now shows additional information for each of the two probes, as well as the meat and doneness information.


IMPROVEMENTS: ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 1- Improved Display
Displays information from both probes in addition to information about the type of food (beef, chicken, fish…) that you are cooking. Where the old ET-732 used to show an alarm symbol when you had set an alarm for over or under temperatures, the new unit shows the actual over and under temperatures you have set. The unit also has preset doneness for various types of meat which display on screen.

ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 2 - 15 Preset Temperatures
This thermometer has presets for various doneness levels for various meats. It is actually similar to the older ET-72 dual probe thermometer I already own. This new unit has more food types and it has more flexibility with the preset temperatures. The food types you can select from are: Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Dear, Elk, Moose, Buffalo, Rabbit, Boar, Duck, Bird and Fish. This certainly has me covered and then some. Each of these food items has multiple pre-set temperatures for the degree of doneness you are looking for: rare, medium rare etc. Setting these temperatures is a bit cumbersome. I can see why people were complaining about it on some of the online forums I visited to check out the early reactions to the ET-733. If you didn't like programming a VCR, you won't like this. It is not that difficult, but it can be a bit tedious and is single direction linear. If you should mess up the settings you can't revise the last setting you messed up you must return to the menu and start from scratch again. If you set A, B & C correctly and mess up D, you must return to the beginning and set A, B and C again, before correcting D. This proves annoying when you're first learning to set up the device.

ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 3 - More Permanent Doneness Temperature Override Settings
You can actually create your own preset doneness temps and store them. I will mention that all isn't rosy with this improvement. First of all the preset temperatures do not reflect the latest USDA thinking on safe doneness temperatures for various foods. These revised temperatures have been in place for at least 2 years and I'm a bit surprised and disappointed that Maverick hasn't implemented them in this device. On the good news side: if you do revise a doneness temperature, for example I set pork down to 140° (60 C) instead of the 160 (71 C) they had, it remains in memory after you shut the device down. My ET-72 would lose any temperature overrides you made when you powered down the device. I should note though that when I removed the battery and called up the temperatures I had changed, they were NOT retained. So the temps you override last only as long as the batteries. Fortunately the ET-732 got very long battery life, so I would say this is an overall improvement.

ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 4 - Hybrid Probes
Some of this might be improved marketing for a feature that already existed, but this device allows you to use food or barbecue probes in either port. I believe on the older devices you could also use a food probe to measure the grate temperature as long as you put it in the clip got it up off the grate level. And I'm guessing the grate probe would also measure food, if you could get it's dull non-pointed end into the food. It certainly measured the current air temperature when it was sitting outside the cooker. The 733 comes with two long pointed probes that look like the old food probes and are called hybrid probes. They can measure either food or grate temperature. When you use them to measure grate temperature there are the standard Maverick clips that attach to the grill grid and raise the level the probe up off the grate itself. The big difference here is in the receiver unit where you can program either port to measure either food temperature or grill grate temperature.

You could plug either probe into either port with the ET-732, but the interface on the receiver did not change. If you put a food probe in the grate probe port it would read like you were measuring the grate temperature. The receiver would show you the proper temperature, but the receiver would say SMOKER although the on-screen temperature would be that of the food. You would also be able to set Hi & Lo temperature settings for the probe, which makes sense for a grate probe but not for foods. This new unit allows you to pick Port 1 or Port 2 individually and choose whether the temperature being measured is food or the grill. The interface changes to suit your selection. If you are measuring grill grate temperature you have a Hi and Lo temperature alarm you can set. If you are measuring food you have the doneness temperature to set and also the interface adds in the portion listing the meat type and degree of doneness you're shooting for. The beauty of this is at any given time you can monitor two foods, two grills or one grill and one food item. This is a lot of flexibility and is very useful. In the past I have brought out my ET-72 which is a dual food probe remote read food thermometer, so I know I will like the ability to monitor two foods using the ET-733 which has the longer range. I could see times where I might want to use this one unit to monitor the temperature of my two Eggs. Unfortunately the probes the come with the unit have only 3 foot (0.91 m) long cords. I need to get one of the probe kits with two hybrid 6 foot (1.8 m) cords. These are listed in the Owners manual as being available for $30.00. I really wish they would offer this is an option for slightly more money when you buy the thermometer so you can get it when you get your unit, and not have to accessorize.

Also this improvement may not be such a big deal for ET-732 owners. In November I bought some 6’ (1.8 m) replacement probes on Amazon to replace the food probe which I had burned out. Maverick and I think some third parties make the hybrid probes for the ET-732. So as long as you can put up with using a food probe in the Probe 2 position and having the interface read SMOKER you don’t need to run out and upgrade to the ET-733.

ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 5 - Black Finish:
Although this is mostly cosmetic, I am listing it, because I see it as a possible improvement. This is one where only time will tell. My reasoning is that is black is less likely to show discoloration from charcoal dust. Also the finish seems to be glossier on this one so, I am thinking it is less likely to permanently stain from any charcoal dust you do get on it. The charcoal dust seems to get into ”the pores” of the older models with a more matte surface finish. A possible downside to the more glossy finish is it will scratch and scuff easier. But I think in general I like the idea of the glossier black finish better.

ET 733 IMPROVEMENT 6 - Readable Owners Manual:
Unlike all the previous Maverick thermometers I've owned, this one comes with a readable owners manual. The other owners manuals were small and compact, but they also used about three point type making them nearly impossible to read. Perhaps because there are more features and this unit is more complex, they decided to do an owner's manual on bigger pieces of paper. It uses text that's actually readable by someone my age without glasses or a magnifying glass. Thank you!

GOOD FEATURES RETAINED FROM THE ET-732:

  • 300 FOOT (91 m) RANGE: I never had any problems losing the signal with the 300 foot range of the second generation ET-732 versus the 75 foot (23 m) range of the first generation model, the ET-73, which I would often lose synch with. For me the extended range allows me to use the unit from anywhere in the house. This is great for overnight cooks where I want to sleep, but have the comfort of setting high and low temperature alarms for my smoker. My bedroom was beyond the range of the ET-72, but was easily within the range of the ET-732 and the new ET-733/ I’ve had my new BGE’s be steady for 10 hours, so the alarms probably won’t be needed. But there is something to be said for peace of mind.
  • LOST SYNC ALARM: if the two units stop communicating with one another for more than a minute you get a lot an alarm on the receiver unit telling you you have lost sync. You don’t need to guess, you know. With the longer-range of the 732 (and now the 733), I never had them loose synch, but this feature has come in handy when I forgot to turn off the indoor unit. After minute of the transmitter being turned off the indoor unit sounds the alarm and I remember to shut it off too.
  • BACKLIT DISPLAY ON THE RECEIVER UNIT: This comes in handy at night, but I find it puzzling the transmitter doesn't have a backlight. Any time when I make a run out to the grill I leave the receiver indoors. Granted the transmitter only has a single item display which cycles between the two probe readings, but it is all I need to use out at the grill.
  • HIGH PROBE WIRE TEMPERATURE RATING: The probe wires on this unit are also rated for a 716° (380 ) maximum temp like the 732. Be very careful with those maximum ratings, they mean it. It doesn't take very little time over that temperature to burn out the probe wire. Don't ask me how I know this.
  • COUNT UP/COUNT DOWN TIMER: If you have a lot of items cooking at once it is handy to have a timer for each device you are cooking on for clarity purposes. I use this timer for items on the grill, my oven timer for items in the oven, my stove timer for...etc.

FEATURES IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT:
THE INDOOR LCD SCREEN HAS LOW CONTRAST: When I first ran into this, I assumed there would be a setting for this somewhere. There is very low contrast between the green background and the text of the display which is a somewhat muted medium gray color. Perhaps this was done to make up for the larger screen and what it might do to battery life. But I found I often needed to turn on the back light to read the display, which certainly doesn't help the battery life. This came close to being a show stopper for me, but I found replacing the batteries that came with the unit with some new fresh batteries helped this issue. The contrast is still less than the ET-732 I have, but it can now be read without turning the backlight on.

“Seventh

You will need a jewelers screw driver to remove the tiny screws securing the transmitter’s battery compartment door.


DIFFICULT ACCESS TO TRANSMITTER' S BATTERY COMPARTMENT: The battery door to the transmitter is gasketed and highly weather tight which is the good news. The bad news is you need a jeweler's screwdriver and patience to get at the battery compartment for the transmitter unit. The screws for the battery compartment door are scarily small. Fortunately the batteries in this unit seem to last a very long time. I honestly don't remember replacing the batteries in my 732 in the year I've had it.

TRICKY ACCESS TO RECEIVER'S BATTERY COMPARTMENT: The battery compartment door on the receiver is somewhat deceiving and poorly designed in my opinion. There is a recessed area in the middle of the top of the battery compartment cover which has a small tab sticking out from it. The presence of this tab is deceiving. It looks like it is something you should hook your fingernail on and pull up and back to release the battery compartment door. Only problem is the door doesn’t budge. Next I tried pulling the tab straight down towards the bottom of the unit to slide the cover straight down. No go there too. I eventually found out what you do is put your fingernail in the recessed area BELOW this tab and the cover easily slides down land off. The projecting tab appears to have no function at all related to releasing the battery cover. Very deceiving. Once again I found the batteries lasted a long time in the ET-732 so this may or may not be an issue. You don’t have to do it often, but the time between battery changes may cause you to forget the trick to opening the compartment.

ADD BACKLIGHT FEATURE TO TRANSMITTER: This is the portion of the thermometer which is intended to live outdoors and I usually don’t take the receiver out to the grill with me when I pay a visit. Granted I now have permanent lighting at my grill, but I feel this would still be a useful feature for many people.

OPERATION:
Other than three fundamental differences: the hybrid probes, having to program the unit to tell it whether the probe is measuring a grill or a food item and being able to set doneness temps using presets; the unit operates like any other Maverick remote read thermometer I've used in the past. The syncing process is the same and works reliably every time for me. The range is as good as the 732 so far and I've had no loss of signal issues. The receiving unit is a mixed blessing. Having the preprogrammed food items with various degree of doneness temperatures is convenient. But these features come at a price, convenience of set up. But so far it pretty much works and feels like the ET 732, which is a good thing.

TIPS:
Here are some things I learned along the way using the ET-733 and other Maverick remote read thermometers.
  • Maverick warns you not to exceed the temperature rating of the probe, get the probe wire wet or kink the probe wire. They are not over reacting. You abide by these rules and you should get long life out of your probes. You don’t…well you were warned.
  • Make sure the probe plugs are plugged in correctly. The female jack is recessed for moisture protection reasons and sometimes you will get odd readings or no reading at all after plugging in a probe. Press the end of the male plug to make sure it is completely seated.
  • When washing the metal probe, be careful that you do not let water sneak around the end of the probe and get on the area where the braided probe wire enters the rear of the probe.
  • Maverick mentions that you can wrap the probe wire with aluminum foil to help protect the braided probe wires from excess heat from flare ups. This protection is temporary at best.
  • Pay attention to where you are running the probe wires within the grill. Try to avoid areas where flareups are likely to occur.

CONCLUSION - GENERAL:
While I like this unit so far, but there is not such a clear use case for upgrading from the second generation ET-732 to the third generation ET-733. If you still own the first generation ET-73 you should upgrade to one of these two units, the new units offer tangible and worth while improvements. For me I also like the idea of having the latest offering from a possible improved technology standpoint. I am going to discuss below the use case for each of these units.

REASON FOR GETTING THE ET-732:
Here are the reasons you might want to get the ET-732 over the ET-733.
  • The new features of this model were very big improvements over the previous model. Particularly the added range and sync alarm.
  • This model can be purchased for $30.00 - $35.00 less than the new ET-733.
  • You can get 6’ hybrid probes for this model. You would not get the ability to set the screen display to show what each probe is monitoring, but it is not hard to keep these things straight. If you have a food probe in Port 2, the on screen display will say SMOKER, but it will be measuring the temperature correctly from the food probe.
  • The ET-732 can also be purchased now in black like the ET-733.
  • If you have trouble programming a VCR, you may actually find this unit easier to program than the ET-733. You see less information on the display, but I was perfectly happy with the information I did see.

REASON FOR GETTING THE ET-733:
Here are the reasons to chose the ET-733 over the ET-732.
  • This model is a very big improvement over the ET-72, but is a relatively minor improvement over the ET-732. The new features fall into the ease of use or cosmetic category. You will have to decide whether these improvements are worth the extra money. For me I like having the additional on screen information and the more customizable interface. But if I was real tight for money I would opt for the ET-732.
  • Perhaps the biggest new feature is the ability to set the user interface to reflector use mode. You can set the user interface to reflect whether you are measuring food or grill temperature with each probe.
  • The second big feature is the 15 preset doneness features which can be customized to your needs. But with this additional information comes more settings and there is some more complexity in using the settings. It isn’t rocket science, but the interface is a bit clunky to set.

SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here are some links to other blog entries about the Maverick ET-73 (first generation) and ET-732 (second generation) versions of this thermometer.

  MAVERICK ET-732 - NEW & DEFINITELY IMPROVED 2012 Blog Entry about Maverick ET-732
  REMOTE POSSIBILITY 2009 Blog Entry about Maverick ET-73
  WHAT UTENSIL DO I NEED? - 1 2006 Blog Entry mentioning Maverick ET-73

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