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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 01-04-2011, 12:02 PM   #1
OneHump
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Default Stoker vs Guru

I see this question all the time and thought that I'd add my .02 for those still contemplating. I've had my Stoker for about a year now, and have been very happy with the unit, but won't stand up and say that it's the best unit simply because I have one.

I really like the flexibility of the Stoker, but their excessive shipping cost and the insane time it takes to receive a unit or accessories can be very frustrating.

The Stoker vs Guru debate has been around for a while and, while the answer seems clear to those who have and enjoy their units, I don't think it's as clear for those looking to purchase one of these very expensive devices.

First, Naked Whiz has some outstanding information about the Stoker and Guru and also offers a comparison. Their data driven approach really takes any subjectivity out of the decision, but I'd like to throw my own opinion into the mix.

One of the things that sets the Stoker apart from Guru is that it has an ethernet port, rather than a USB port, which requires you to connect a laptop within short proximity to the unit. This is a show stopper for me as I find wireless access via my phone, tablet and computers to be very convenient. When I'm doing overnight cooks, I'll typically wake up every hour and check my phone to make sure all is well. I also like the idea of receiving a text when it's time to foil, or if there is an alarm condition. I'm certainly not going to put a laptop outside in the elements to accomodate Guru's network limitations.

On the other hand, the Guru is a more attractive product, possibly a better quality unit and the company has done a better job formalizing customer service. Unfortunately, it's not as extensible as the Stoker and doesn't offer direct ethernet support.

So, how to get around the Guru's network limitation? You can use a wireless USB extender. They aren't as ubiquitous as wireless network bridges, but they aren't much more expensive and will probably get the job done. A comparable Guru is also slightly cheaper, so this eats up some of the cost of an adapter. The only question is range, which I have not tested.

With this workaround for the Guru, you still have the issue of being limited to two cookers, and a finite number of probes, but that's not an issue for the majority.

As for extensibility, the Guru can support up to two cookers, but won't be able to compete with Stoker's support for a virtually unlimited number of cookers and probes. These do, however, come at a great cost, as Stoker's accessories are far from inexpensive. How does $110 for a 10cfm PC fan sound when you can get something similar online for $7, minus the hardware and interface, of course. I'm aware that there is some RnD cost here, but I'm sure the margins on these accessories aren't thin.

I think Guru needs to get with the program and do something with their network access. It would be brilliant if one of the two companies would include a wireless chip inside the unit, but that would likely make an already expensive device even more expensive. Still, if they could do it for $50, we would all be gaining convenience without having to buy an external unit for at least the same price.

In addition, I think both companies have a long way to go with their interface design, both on the unit and on the network. These devices very much remind me of cellular phones, pre-iPhone. Their technology and interfaces are 20 years behind where everything else is. There's really no excuse for this and a strong showing here could really set these units apart from one other. iPhone/Android app anyone?

I would really like to see Guru fix their ethernet limitations and extend support for more devices, at the same time that Stoker stops gouging for shipping and reduces their lead times by several weeks. Only then will the decision between Stoker and Guru be an easy one.

In the mean time, I think it is pretty clear that both devices work equally well unless you have specific network requirements or plan on supporting more than 2 cookers.

Dave
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Unread 01-04-2011, 12:18 PM   #2
Groundhog66
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Nice comparison, I am sure there will be many opinions regarding this topic once again.

When I went to Rock's BBQ last week to get a pit probe replaced, it went very smoothly. I returned home, only to see that they forgot to put my power cord back in the box. This was a problem, due to the fact that I had planned on using it that day. I called John and explained the situation, he said he would get it out to me right away. I called him back to see if some other power adapter would work, perhaps something from another device I had at the house. He told me not to worry about it, his wife was going to deliver my adapter to my house within the hour (80 mile round trip). She arrived right on time, that was great customer service.

I also spoke to John about the software, wondering if there will ever be an update that will be compatible with Mac. He said someone is currently working on a universal platform, he was unsure when it will be released.

I cannot speak on the Guru, but I am sure it is a fine product as well.
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Unread 01-04-2011, 12:25 PM   #3
C-Town Smoker
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Guru...the original and the best!
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Unread 01-04-2011, 12:29 PM   #4
Groundhog66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C-Town Smoker View Post
Guru...the original and the best!

Any particular reason, or just because it was released first?
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Unread 01-04-2011, 01:02 PM   #5
OneHump
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I paid over $300 recently for some extra probes and a fan for my Stoker. It shipped a week after it was promised and I received it 3 weeks after I ordered it from a company about 50 miles away. I also paid $25 for standard USPS shipping, which is obsurd.

When I got my order, it was missing a probe, which was a bit frustrating. I sent an email to Rock's, who responded on Christmas day and apologized, promising to make things right. I received my missing part a couple days later.

Ultimately, I think Rock's tries very hard, but things don't always go as smoothly as they should. I don't have a beef with Rock's, but do hope they'll improve their lead time and continue to improve their product.

Dave
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