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Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop


Readers of my Latitude E5570 review may recall that I had concerns about whether I could adjust to the offset keyboard layout. The outcome is that my fingers refused to adjust properly, perhaps because having my wrist resting on the corner of the computer wasn t comfortable. In other respects, the E5570 had satisfied expectations and a BIOS update had made it happy to work with a 65W PSU.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

Dell Precision 5510 laptop

So, again, I had to consider at my computer options. Several Dell Precision 5510 laptop models were available via the Dell UK Outlet and the availability of a 15% off coupon stopped me dithering and I ordered one which had the non-glare FHD display and the 84Whr battery. Within a week I was the proud owner of a Precision workstation. One of my first observations was that was almost the same size as my old Samsung NP900X4C1, which was a very good start. What else have I discovered? Read this Dell Precision 5510 review to find out. The Dell Precision 5510 laptop is a mobile workstation but you might want to think of it as the business version of Dell s popular XPS 15 95502 notebook. The construction is a sandwich of metal and plastic. Both the base and the display back are unpainted metal while the chassis is plastic and the palm rest is carbon fiber. The overall result is something which feels well-constructed while not adding excessive weight. My first action after unboxing the computer was to put it on the scales and see how the actual weight compared to the specifications. Dell advertises the notebook as being 1.78kg with SSD and non-touch display. The high capacity battery is 0.1kg heavier than the normal one which suggests a weight of 1.88kg for my notebook. A weight of 1.93kg is close to specification, unlike the E5570 which was significantly heavier than I expected.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

The Dell Precision 5110 laptop on left and Latitude E5570 on right. The size difference is noticeable and, in this photo (taken in semi-sunlight), the 5110 s less effective anti-glare coating is evident. The display unit for this non-glare, non-touchscreen version is very thin (about 5mm /0.2 ) but the metal back provides good protection to the LCD panel. The top and side display bezels are very narrow which reduces the overall size of the computer although a side-effect is that the webcam is located below the display. There is a slight raised lip around the display edges but no rubber strip which creates the possibility of long-term cosmetic damage around the edge of the palm rest. It is possible to slightly twist the display but it resists my efforts to put any ripples on the panel. The display bezel, palm rest and keyboard are black which avoids distracting glare and provides good contrast with the backlit letters on the keyboard.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel LaptopThe hinges are very stiff and hold the display firmly in position without any hint of wobble. The design of the hinges means that the display can only be tipped back to about 135 . The air discharge vents for the fans are in the gap between the hinge and the back of the computer. The hinge stiffness means that opening the computer is a two-handed task, not helped by the absence of any recess on the front to provide any finger hold. A small recess in the front of the chassis would make opening easier.

The base is secured by 12 screws but, once these are removed, then it lifts off to provide access to the inside. Instead of the usual feet on the bottom of the notebook the 5510 has two longitudinal rubber edged ridges which are an integral part of the metal base and perhaps their primary function is to provide extra stiffening the base is rigid but not heavy. A consequence of the ridges is that there is no flow path for air from the back edge of the computer to the air vents but a benefit is that, when the computer is used as a laptop, legs are not touching the potentially warm base. The bottom of the computer is dominated by what appears to be generous air vent but, in reality, a substantial part of it is covered on the inside. A useful detail is that the label with the computer information is under a small cover (held closed by a magnet) in the center of the base. This avoids the risk of it being rubbed off during everyday use. I ve put my business card in there.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel LaptopDell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

Removing the twelve screws on the bottom provides access to the inside. The location of the battery under the palm rest keeps it away from the hot components and provides a counter-balance to the weight of a pushed-back display. Access for upgrading or servicing is good.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel LaptopDell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

I opted for a 5510 with the 6 cell 84Whr battery which increased the prospect of all-day operation without external power. The battery is longer than the standard 56Whr battery and occupies what would otherwise be the bay for a 2.5 storage drive. The 2280 M.2 slot is configured to take both SATA and PCIe devices and was shipped with a Toshiba NVMe SSD.

Ports and Features

A key feature of the Dell Precision 5510 laptop is the Thunderbolt 3 enabled USB-C port. The future is here. Well, almost! This port offers substantial connectivity potential when the firmware and drivers are fully debugged and attached devices more reasonably priced. So far, the main potential I have noticed is that for draining the battery: Plugging anything in to this port (e.g. the network adapter included with the computer) results in the system power drain increasing by about 3W. Lesson for now: Avoid using the port when running on battery. The design of the hinge means that there are no sockets along the back. Instead, they are all on the sides where they are more accessible. The chassis is too thin to provide a built-in RJ45 network socket so Dell has provided a USB-C network adapter. The port layout is reasonable with all ports being on the back half of the chassis so any devices and cables won t intrude on areas where a mouse may be used. I would have preferred a further USB 3.0 port instead of the battery gauge. One suggestion to Dell: Why not print some symbols onto the palm rest / keyboard surround adjacent to the various ports so that it is easier to plug things in without looking?

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop
Front side: Two loudspeakers under the front edge; twin microphones each side of the centre and a power status light at the center which glows white when the battery is charging. I would have expected it to work under conditions such as when the computer is closed but sleeping. Dell has taken a step backwards with the indicator lights.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop
Left side from back to front: AC adapter socket; USB 3.0; full-size HDMI (HDMI 1.4); Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C; audio socket.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop
Right side from front to back: SD card slot; USB 3.0 port; battery gauge; security lock slot.

Screen and Speakers

The Dell Precision 5510 laptop is available with either a QHD touchscreen or an FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution non-glare display. Research revealed that the QHD display resulted in significantly higher power consumption under light usage, I didn t want a glossy touchscreen while I still have reservations about Windows display scaling. Consequently, I opted for the lower resolution display which Dell calls Ultrasharp and is in fact a Sharp SHP1453 LQ156M1 display panel. The panel has a similar brightness to the display used in the E5570 which is rated at 300 nits and is more than adequate for normal use. There is some visible backlight flicker at minimum and 10% brightness. I thought that the E5570 s display was very good but this Sharp display has better contrast and appears crisper (subjective comparison indicates less anti-glare coating than the E5570).

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

The color rendering of the Sharp display panel is slightly bluish but I have adjusted it using my Spyder 5 Express calibrator which revealed that the display covers 99% of sRGB / 79% of AdobeRGB, which is better than most notebook panels. The viewing angles are also very good. Dell located two speakers under the front side of the chassis. The speaker positioning on the angled front edge benefits from the sound being reflected upwards when the computer is on a table top. However, there is an absence of any bass, probably because of the constraints imposed by the thin chassis. The volume is more than sufficient for a medium sized room with no serious distortion when the volume is increased.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

Precision 5110 on left and Latitude E5570 on right highlights the differences in size and keyboard layout

Dell used the uncluttered approach for the 5510 s keyboard which has only 81 keys. It lacks the dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys above the left and right cursor key which Dell included in the Latitude business notebooks. The keyboard has less travel than the Latitude keyboard but this is easy to get used to. The keys have backlit lettering improving legibility of the letters under all lighting conditions. The backlight has three brightness settings: Dim; bright and off, with Fn+F10 stepping through these settings. There is a non-adjustable time-out on the backlight of 10 seconds. Perhaps a future BIOS update will give users greater control over this as the option exists in the Latitude BIOS. The keyboard is is securely fixed from below in the palm rest / keyboard surround which means that the keyboard and has no over looseness or bounce but a disadvantage is that keyboard replacement requires complete dismantling of the computer.

The Precision 5510 s touchpad, at 105mm x 80mm, is enormous and large hands are needed to utilize the full size. The front part of the pad includes embedded buttons. The pad supports gestures but there is only a limited range of customization options. My Dell Precision 5510 review unit was delivered with the following hardware (this was the configuration available on Dell UK Outlet which most closely matched my requirements and budget). There are numerous other configuration options.

  • Processor: 45W Intel Core i7-6820HQ (up to 3.6GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 530 (integrated in CPU package) plus dedicated Nvidia Quadro M1000M GPU
  • Display: 15.6 inch Sharp anti-glare 1920 x 1080 FHD non-glare wide viewing angle
  • Memory: 2 x 8GB DDR4-2133 1.2V RAM
  • Storage: Toshiba 256GB THNSN5256GPU7 NVMe M.2 2280 SSD
  • Wireless: Intel 8260 802.11ac (dual band + Bluetooth 4.1)
  • Web camera (1280 x 720 resolution) below display and twin microphones (on chassis front)
  • 84Wh 6-cell battery
  • 130W PSU with 1m power cable
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit pre-installed (recovery media to be created by user)
  • Dimensions: 357 x 235 x 19mm (front) /21mm (back) (including rubber-edged ridges on base) or 14.06 x 9.25 x 0.75/0.83
  • Notebook weight as received: 1.93kg / 4.25 lbs
  • Travel weight: 2.38kg / 5.25 lbs (with Dell 130W PSU and 1m mains cable)
  • 3 years next business day on-site warranty

Benchmarks

A range of benchmark tests have been run to enable comparison of performance with other notebooks. Not surprisingly, the results are good as would be expected for a mobile workstation.
CPU / GPU Performance

wPrime measures raw CPU performance. The processor comparison results are in seconds (lower scores mean better performance):
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities including web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance:
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer DirectX 11 benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

The test results for the 3D benchmarks shows that the Precision lags behind the XPS 15 9550 despite the two having nominally similar GPUs. I suspect that the Precision may be set up to run slower for better stability while it is possible that the certified graphics driver is not optimized as well as the more frequently updated driver for the consumer GPU. I have encountered no stability problems with this computer.

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests:
Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

Dell installed a Toshiba 256GB THNSN5256GPU7 NVMe SSD in this notebook. This uses the M.2 2280 form factor and a 4-lane PCIe interface to achieve much faster maximum performance than the limit of the SATA interface. However, sustained intensive storage access can trigger thermal throttling. Dell provide a thermal pad on the SSD to pass some heat to the computer base to mitigate this problem.

Heat and Noise

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel LaptopThe Dell Precision 5510 laptop has a cooling system with heat pipes serving both the CPU and discrete GPU and cooled by two relatively small fans. The computer stays quiet under light usage although modest CPU activity will get the fans running at an almost inaudible 2500 rpm. This appears to be the result of a low trigger temperature rather than heat and the bottom of the computer stays cool. The maximum fan speed I have observed is 3700 rpm when the noise is noticeable. The CPU can reach about 80 C under sustained heavy load (wPrime running 8 threads) although the worst case is combined CPU and graphics operation. I do not expect to normally need to use the full power of this computer and obtrusive fan noise should be a rare event as most of my software is only single-threaded.

Battery Life

Dell offers 62Whr and 84Whr batteries for this notebook. The former can co-exist with a 2.5 storage device while the latter blocks the 2.5 bay. I opted for the higher capacity to improve the prospect of having a computer which could be used away from the power socket for a whole working day. So how does the battery perform in typical usage? I first tried a simple rundown test playing an mp4 video at half display brightness. The computer shut down after 8 hours 30 minutes which indicates an average power drain of about 9W. That is more than half an hour longer than the E5570 suggesting that either the 5510 s higher-rated CPU is more frugal under light usage or the display is more power efficient. I then performed an everyday usage test which comprised working on this review, web browsing and emails at about 30% display brightness (quite usable due to the excellent screen quality) with some short periods of inactivity. As the test progressed I stopped trying to conserve power. However, the cumulative operating time was 11 hours giving an average power drain of 7W: My goal of all-day usage is achieved. How often I will need to do that remains to be seen, but it is of considerable comfort.

Dell ships the Precision 5510 with a 130W power supply which provides sufficient capacity for full CPU load, full GPU load and recharging the battery. Leave one of these out of the equation and 90W should be enough while 65W should be sufficient for light usage plus battery recharging. So I have tried using the lower rated PSUs (which required buying the DC plug adapter to convert from the standard Dell PSU plug to the thinner size used on this notebooks). I was pleased to discover that the computer didn t throttle the performance when running off these PSUs, so there s scope to reduce the travel weight. One benefit of using a lower rated PSU with a plug adapter is that it has an L-shaped plug which means that the power cable can be routed behind the computer and doesn t get in the way of the adjacent ports. Advice for Dell: Straight DC plugs makes sense when the power socket is on the back but please provide L-shaped plugs when the power socket is on the side.

Dell Precision 5510 Review: A Solid Travel Laptop

Dell Precision 5510 laptop

Finally, what are my conclusions about the Dell Precision 5510 laptop? My fingers quickly adapted to the keyboard and the 5510 proved to be a better traveling companion compared to the Latitude E5570 thanks to the smaller overall size and weight while not losing any display size. The travel functionality is further improved by the fact the high capacity battery provides at least 10 hours of light use.

Heat and fan noise is not a problem under light to moderate use. Thunderbolt 3 + USB-C provides good future-proofing if Dell manages to fix the current glitches. I ve paid for features which I don t think I ll use (mainly the dedicated graphics) but that s the penalty of getting something which meets my other requirements. I have the comfort that, by shopping at Dell Outlet, I paid about half of what it would cost to order as a new notebook.

Pros:

  • Small and lightweight for a 15.6-inch mobile workstation
  • Excellent non-glare non-touch display
  • Silent operation under light usage and reasonably quiet under load
  • Long battery life with the high capacity battery option
  • Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port

Cons:

  • Premium pricing
  • Awkward to open
  • Lacks a full set of navigation keys

References

  1. ^ Samsung NP900X4C (www.notebookreview.com)
  2. ^ XPS 15 9550 (www.notebookreview.com)

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ARBOR IoT-800 – Rugged PC Review


ARBOR IoT-800

Compact, versatile panel PC for visualizing, and responding to, what the Internet of Things (or any other system) is doing
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

ARBOR Technology1 takes the Internet of Things seriously. For the past couple of years or so, most of the innovative Taipei-based company’s new products have been related to IoT applications and projects in one way or another. Which is just good business sense at a time where experts expect 50 billion IoT devices and trillions of Iot-related US dollars in increased revenue and reduced cost within the next ten years.

The 8-inch ARBOR IoT-800 is a follow-up on the smaller IoT-500 5-inch HMI panel, where HMI stands for Human Machine Interface. The IoT-800, though still very compact, offers significantly more screen real estate than is available on the IoT-500’s smartphone-sized display. Optimal screen size depends on the application, but both of ARBOR’s small IoT panels allow people to interact with the emerging Internet of Things. This makes these ARBOR panels integral building blocks of the promising vision of a world where internet communication is no longer limited to people communicating with people or machines with machines, but where “things” communicate as well. These things vehicles, doors, wash machines, fuel injectors, locks, cameras, or entire offices or homes collect data via sensors, and then pass that data on for information, processing and action. The ARBOR IoT-800’s role is to display data from all sorts of sensors, and, if need be, allow human feedback. Easy as that. And very important.

ARBOR IoT-800 - Rugged PC Review

While Internet of Things terminology is full of acronyms and vaguely defined concepts (like “the cloud”), there’s nothing magical about the IoT-800. It measures 8.6 x 6.4 inches about the size of a big paperback book and weighs about two pounds. ARBOR calls it a Panel PC, and technically it is, but one that runs Android and has a very tablet-like 8-inch screen with capacitive multi-touch. And just like in any modern small tablet, flush glass extends well beyond the perimeter of the LCD screen, so that fingers can easily operate it without bumping into a bezel frame. On the backside, though, the IoT-800 does look like a Panel PC much more than like a tablet. There are full-size PC ports and industrial block connectors. The picture below shows what things look like back there.

ARBOR IoT-800 - Rugged PC Review

A downward-facing I/O block features the kind of legacy connectivity that continues to play an important role even in the era of Internet of Things and the Cloud. There’s an old-style DB9 RS232 serial port, next to it one that’s software switchable to RS232, RS422 and RS485, then a couple of full-size USB 2.0 ports, and finally a RJ45 LAN jack. On the right side are green industrial-looking terminals for power (the IoT-800 doesn’t have a battery), and for digital I/O and a CAN Bus and OBD-II interface. Digital I/O lines can be used to interact with all sorts of equipment and sensors. CAN Bus is an electronic bus standard for vehicles, and OBD-II is a standard interface for onboard diagnostics. On the left side are slots for an SD card and a SIM card. The ARBOR IoT-800 is powered by a non-specified quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 chip. There’s 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 16GB of onboard eMMC storage, a frontal 2mp camera, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 801.11a/b/g/n WiFi, NFC, GPS, and optional mobile Broadband. The display offers 1024 x 600 pixel, which translates into 148 ppi. That’s about as much as the original Microsoft Surface tablet, not terribly high, but more than enough for even sophisticated HMI applications (such as complex systems data and sensor readings like shown in the sidebar). And thanks to its projected capacitive touch interface, it allows for easy human monitoring, interaction, response, and control.

The IoT-800 isn’t a mobile device in the sense that people carry it around like they would ARBOR’s Gladius handhelds and tablets, but it’s certainly mobile in vehicles. So ARBOR gave it a very wide 14 to 158 degree Fahrenheit (-10 to 70 degrees Centigrade) operating temperature range. The front panel is IP65-sealed, which means it’s totally immune to dust and can also handle low pressure water jets. Drop spec isn’t important in a device like this, but we’d like to see vibration resistance data in the specs. Where can it be used? Almost anywhere. The polymer plastic housing is quite tough. It has a standard VESA 75 x 75 mm screwhole pattern on its back, which means that there’s a limitless number of mounting solutions available for it. Since it’s designed like a compact panel computer it can also easily be integrated into a dash or panel anywhere. While ARBOR named this panel computer the IoT-800, there’s no need to wait for future or even emerging applications to put it to use. It’s equally at home in Point-of-Sale/Service deployments, retail, hospitality, and a myriad of other other projects that require a compact, friendly, versatile panel to interact with all sorts of systems.


ARBOR Technology Corp.
www.arbor-technology.com2

References

  1. ^ ARBOR Technology (www.arbor-technology.com)
  2. ^ www.arbor-technology.com (www.arbor-technology.com)

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Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill review


Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

There is nothing more primal than cooking food over flame (sorry, raw food movement, but I ve got history on my side). Sure, we ve turned cooking into an art, but the fundamentals of placing meat over heat are more or less built into our DNA now. Grilling should come naturally to everyone! Oh, but it doesn t. Temperature management is tricky, and timing, crucial just ask anyone who s been served a piece of chicken that s charred on the outside and a pink salmonella playground in the middle. Professional cooks spend many hundreds of hours mastering the techniques required to produce large quantities of a wide array of food, all off of one grill, and do it with consistency. Chances are, you don t have that kind of expertise. And, even if you have spent a good amount of time behind the line, that s no guarantee the distractions of home life or your friends at a big BBQ party won t derail you. For would-be chefs with ambition beyond their time or talents, I present the Lynx Smart Grill. This is a pro-grade grill with an army of sensors connected to a built-in computer that, through the internet, lets you man the grill from the comfort of just about anywhere you want. Hell, if it had a robot arm, it could probably cook without you. But where s the fun in that?

To be frank, I thought an internet-connected smart grill would suck the challenge (and fun) right out of my outdoor cooking adventures. But I was wrong. I quickly found out the purist side of me, which believes cooking over anything but natural hardwood is of the devil, loses nine times out of 10 to the more practical, I ve-got-a-hungry-family-to-feed-right-now side of me, which can t deny the convenience of a great gas grill let alone one that talks to me. I m an outdoor cooking purist, and the smart grill made a believer out of me, but it is not without its quirks and challenges not the least of which is a £7,000 price tag.

The setup

The Lynx Smart Grill is an appliance, so the degree to which you must involve yourself in the setup process will vary based on where you purchase it. The Smart Grill is available through a number of dealers and contractors who will probably offer some sort of installation or enhanced delivery service. If, however, you purchase directly from Lynx, you ll be doing the heavy lifting. The good news is, once you get the grill to its final location, it practically sets itself up.

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

Our review unit arrived on a pallet without casters attached. Fortunately, with a bit of help, we were able get the Smart Grill down and attach the casters in just a few minutes. It was then easy enough (it s heavy!) to roll the grill into its final position on our patio. At this point, the Smart Grill needs two things: power and fuel. Without electricity, this grill does nothing. Everything is electronic, so if there s no outlet nearby, be prepared to run a long extension cable out to it. As for fuel, the Smart Grill can handle natural gas or propane but you must specify which you prefer when you buy the grill.

I m an outdoor cooking purist, and the Smart Grill made a believer out of me. Once powered and fueled, the Smart Grill is operational in manual mode. You can twist the burner nobs and it ll be flame on in a matter of seconds. But you don t want to do that. Instead, grab your iOS or Android phone or tablet and prepare to be spoken to by your grill. Once you press the power button, little blue LEDs jump into action it s almost like seeing KITT from Knight Rider, only in a shiny stainless steel grill instead of a black Trans Am. You and any friends you have around will be dazzled, if not amused. From here, you ll need to connect to the grill as a Wi-Fi access point, and access the Lynx Smart Grill app on your device. The app walks you through the simple process of feeding the grill with your home s Wi-Fi information, and the entire process is done in just a couple of minutes.

Fancy features, refined design

With all the computing power in play, it might be easy to overlook some of the Smart Grill s thoughtful features, but there are plenty. For one, the entire thing is made of seamless, high-thickness stainless steel which is part of why it is so heavy. To make that weight a little more manageable, the grill s hood is counterbalanced by a spring, which makes opening and closing the lid buttery smooth.

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

Even the grilling grates are stainless steel, which means there s no cast iron to keep seasoned, and no ceramic to chip off. Also, no rust! The grill has an interior light, which makes cooking in the dark a snap. The storage area below has magnetically secured doors, with a good amount of storage space in the doors themselves, and just a little bit in the main area. The computer and propane take up quite a bit of this space. This is, by far, the hottest, most even-cooking gas grill I ve used outside of a commercial kitchen.

The stand-alone version of the Smart Grill we tested has two collapsible tables, one on each side, allowing for plenty of workspace when you need it and compact storage when you don t. As for accessories, the grill comes with a serious rotisserie attachment also all stainless steel with a three-speed motor that is powered by the grill itself. You also get a rugged carbon vinyl cover and a little smoker box. Integral to the grill s performance are 840 square inches of total cooking surface (more with the larger models). All of the burners are infrared, and even the rotisserie burner can reach up to 14,000 BTU. You will not want for additional heat from this grill, nor will you ever complain about how the evenness of the heat. This is, by far, the hottest, most even-cooking grill I ve used outside of a commercial kitchen.

The not-so-smart

I have minor quibbles with the Smart Grill, but this is one I think might come as a surprise to potential users: The voice-recognition feature is a disappointment when it isn t an annoyance. The novelty of speaking to your grill is strong and, in some cases, quite useful, but the novelty for us wore thin after a few weeks and, eventually, we stopped using it for anything except turning the light on and off or getting the occasional status update.

Lynx Wi-Fi Enabled SmartGrill Review

Jake Melara/Digital Trends

We ve been spoiled by Amazon s Alexa, Apple s Siri, and Google s OK Google, all voice-interaction systems that do a remarkable job of translating what we re saying into something actionable. You can ask Siri to set an alarm five different ways, and she s going to get the message no matter how you phrase it. We ve come to expect this kind of intuitive behavior from all voice-recognition systems, but the Lynx Smart Grill doesn t have it yet. The voice-recognition feature is a disappointment when it isn t an annoyance.

If you want to use the voice-interaction feature, you need to memorize, almost word for word, the exact phrasing for each type of question or command you want to say. If you deviate much, the Smart Grill does the digital assistant version of shrugging its shoulders and asks you to repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Also, even though the Smart Grill s wake words are Smart Grill, the grill wakes up errantly sometimes, and usually when you aren t expecting it. I was surprised a number of times by the scratchy, low-res MP3 voice loop in the dead of night more than a few times. Eventually, I shut the whole voice portion of the grill off. This may sound like a huge issue and perhaps it will be for you but it really wasn t for me because all the best stuff this grill can do is operational through Lynx s iOS or Android app, and the app is excellent.

The app

In the video for this review, I show most of the app s functions, and those pictures really do tell a thousand words, because the capability of this app runs pretty deep. Creating your own cooking recipe takes a little time at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a powerful tool. While some of the recipes Lynx itself has developed are pretty good, I found that I cook types and sizes of meats not adequately covered by Lynx or anyone in the Lynx Smart Grill community. So, I create my own cook recipes and I make them available to other Smart Grill owners so they can try them out as well. It s social grilling, and it s a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I didn t want to take any chances with my first rotisserie chicken, for instance, so I went straight to the Smart Grill app to find a recipe that worked with my size of bird. I clicked the go button, set the rotisserie to the suggested speed, and let the app and grill do the rest. The chicken came out perfectly cooked, with a gorgeously crispy brown exterior.

Perhaps the biggest advantage the Smart Grill provided me was reminders to flip food on time. I m often distracted by other BBQ party duties (I m always the margarita guy) and the Smart Grill s notifications helped keep me from over-charring about 30 chicken drumsticks a few weeks ago. I also enjoyed being able to get the grill warmed up as I headed home from the grocery store with meat and veg on board. To be clear, the grill must be powered on by hand you can t do that remotely but I could call home, have my daughter turn on the grill, and I was able to start the warm-up process on my way back to the house so I could cook immediately upon arrival. Necessary? No. Fun? Absolutely.

Warranty information

The Lynx Smart Grill s stainless steel body, cooking grates, main burners and rotisserie burner are all covered by a limited lifetime warranty. Other parts, like the gas valves, are covered for five years, while the computer s CPU is covered for two years. Everything is covered under a comprehensive one-year warranty. It s also worth noting here as well that any time I had to deal with Lynx customer support, the experience was as premium as the grill itself.

Conclusion

Outside of the Smart Grill s voice recognition being a bit of a nonstarter for me, the other problem I have with the Smart Grill is its price: £7,000. That is a massive sum of money for a grill, no matter how smart it is. For perspective, Lynx sells the non-smart version of this grill (the built-in model) for about £3,700, and while that is a good chunk of change for a grill, it suggests the computer, sensors, valve controls, speaker, and microphone and the hours of development it took to make it all work together are worth about £3,000 more. So you have to ask: If the smarts nearly double the cost of the grill, is it worth it?

The DT Accessory Pack

The Smart Grill is clearly a luxury product. Asking if it is worth £7,000 is like asking if the Lamborghini Aventador is worth £400,000 it depends on how passionate you are about outdoor cooking and being on the bleeding edge of technology. I imagine the price will go down in time as Lynx recoups some of the cost of developing a grill like this, but for now, the Smart Grill is for enthusiastic early adopters with enough disposable income that £7,000 doesn t sting too much if the product performs as promised. And on that last condition, I can confirm that it does indeed. One thing is certain: If you invest in a Lynx Smart Grill, you are going to be throwing a lot more cookouts than you used to, and your guests are going to marvel at what your new appliance can do, because I can assure you they ve never seen anything like it.

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