Get your grill on: It's hi-tech BBQ time

Backyard apps, gizmos, and guides to make the most of your meat (and veggies)!

Fire Magic's Echelon 1060 barbecue

Fire Magic's Echelon 1060 barbecue

It doesn't matter whether you're the proud owner of a redneck grill or of the US$14,000 Fire Magic Echelon Gas Grill--you are the executive chef of your backyard. Boss of the barbecue. The charcoal chaperone. Possibly you even have a snazzy apron.

We salute you, meat master. We've ventured into the high-steaks world of grilling gizmos. Bad puns and unfortunate alliteration aside, we found some useful apps and intriguing tech for the barbecue enthusiast.

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Truth to tell, we'd jump at any chance to shoot lasers at things; ergo our admiration for the Laser BBQ Thermometer ($50). Stand up to 5 feet away from the target zone, aim, shoot, and you have an instant reading. The product description page claims that the LBBQT has "hundreds of other practical uses" (make of that what you will).

DIY fans with a bit of nerd in them can opt to build their own meat thermometer, write code for it, and generally impress the ladies.

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Then, they can party with the fiesta-ready version of the original Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine--the George Foreman GIPOD200 ($179). This indoor/outdoor electric grill comes tricked out with 10-watt speakers, bringing music and meat to a single device (and I'm not talking about the iPhone's Pocket Bacon). Connect any player via the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and whip out that grilling playlist.

If the party lasts past sundown, you'll want to counter the altered ambient conditions with a pair of illuminated barbecue tongs--the Ultimate Luma Tongs ($20).

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A sample screen from the Grill-It iPhone app.From the masters over at Grilling Companion come Grill-It for the iPhone ($1) and Grill-It XL for the iPad ($2). Mouth-watering photos, a growing recipes catalog (which updates automatically), and a host of useful tips will make the Grill-It guides indispensable for the fire-and-smoke-inclined.

Another handy iPhone addition is the Grill Timer ($1), which we reviewed as part of our roundup of Thanksgiving apps. It offers four separate cooking timers, for serious multitaskers. And to make sure you can tell the bangers from the bratwurst, you can even add a handy photo of each from your camera roll.

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If you refuse to make do with anything less than a perfect hot dog and yet "the hassle of tedious, time-consuming hand turning" fills you with dread, bring the Automatic Hot Dog Grill Roller ($50) to your grill top. Powered by batteries, it rotates up to five sausages at a time, while you take the opportunity to do something fantastic and life-fulfilling.

Android users can pick up the free Meat Cooking Reference, a bare-bones app with charts based on meat type, cut, weight, and time--all tailored to achieving the doneness you desire. Other charts show which cuts of meat come from which part of the animal, and there's a table of handy unit conversions.

For folks who don't like to see daylight or simply can't pry themselves away from World of Warcraft, George Foreman comes to the rescue again with the USB iGrill ($99), a light-changing, portable grill with intense cooking software. Okay, fine. It was just a funny April Fool's Day joke. But evidently some Japanese modders really did turn their computer into a functional USB-powered BBQ.

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Rachel Sadon

PC World (US online)
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