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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 May 2012 Issue  Volume 13  Number 5

Product Evaluations

From Fevers to Cooking Temperatures: A Review of Three Talking Thermometers

This article reviews three talking thermometers, two for taking body temperature and one for use in other tasks such as measuring the temperatures of food and liquids.

TALKiNG Fast Reading Thermometer

The TALKiNG thermometer is used for taking body temperature. The thermometer can be used orally, under the arm, or rectally.

Documentation

The documentation for this thermometer is not available in an accessible format, and the manufacturer is not listed on the packaging, but a Google search disclosed that this is the Ultmost HE-113-EN Talking Digital Thermometer.

Description

Holding the thermometer with the probe tip pointing down, there are two buttons and a display window towards the top of the thermometer, located in the broadest part of the device. The top button speaks the last recorded temperature; the lower button is the power button. The part of the thermometer that goes in your mouth has a plastic protective cover that can be removed and replaced easily. The end of the thermometer is flexible. The back has a battery compartment which is accessed by two tiny screws. There is a small internal speaker. Two included AG13 batteries are already installed in the compartment.

Using the TALKiNG Fast Reading Thermometer

To use the thermometer, remove the plastic covering, insert the long end of the thermometer under your tongue and press the power button. A clear female voice will say, "Ready." Close your mouth. The thermometer will beep every few seconds. When ready, the voice will say, "Your body temperature is" followed by the number. If the unit isn't turned off within three minutes, it will automatically turn itself off. By default the thermometer measures temperature in Fahrenheit, but it can be changed to Celsius by holding down the power button.

This thermometer is easy to operate and was accurate when compared to other non-talking thermometers which were read with sighted assistance. Unfortunately, there is no accessible documentation or a usable product website.

Lumiscope Talking Digital Ear Thermometer

The Lumiscope Talking Digital Ear Thermometer quickly takes body temperature by ear.

Documentation

The manual can be downloaded in PDF; customer service is available at (770) 368-4700 and cs@grahamfield.com.

Description

The unit is packaged in a plastic protector which can be difficult to open. Inside the package are the thermometer, a stand, and a small box containing 10 ear covers for the thermometer's probe. Additional boxes of 40 probe covers are $7.99 each. The manual recommends changing the cover each time the unit is used.

The Lumiscope is oval shaped with a large ridged button on the top and a display window covering most of the front of the unit. This button turns the unit on and off and is pressed once the thermometer's probe is in the ear canal. When not in use, the thermometer functions as an inaccessible clock. When temperature is announced it also is shown on the display window. At the bottom of the display window are two buttons, Memo and Talk.

The probe is located on the back of the unit. The default setting is Fahrenheit, which can be changed to Celsius by locating the tiny hole labeled "C/F" about three-quarters of the way down from the top on the right side if the probe is facing you. Unbend a paper clip and stick the end into the hole and press once. To reset everything to original settings, use a paper clip in the hole on the left side, opposite the C/F hole. The thermometer uses two AAA batteries (included). The battery compartment's tiny screw is just below the probe. To place the thermometer in the stand, put the probe into the extended hole on the back of the stand with the display window facing forward. There are two clips, one on each side of the thermometer that fit into the stand.

Using the Lumiscope Talking Digital Ear Thermometer

The manual recommends that the unit be in the room where it will be used for at least 30 minutes before use to adjust to ambient temperature. Put a clean cover on the thermometer's probe by slipping the open end over the probe and pushing down on the ring at the bottom of the cover. To take the cover off, place two fingers under the ring and press upward. Insert the covered probe into the ear canal as far as is comfortable. Press the button on the top of the unit. A beep will sound, followed a couple of seconds later by a brief melody, and then the temperature will be spoken. The manual recommends that if several readings in a row are taken, at least ten minutes should elapse between each reading and the temperature should always be taken in the same ear. Previous readings can be accessed by going back and forth between the Memo and Talk buttons. These buttons are also used to set the clock, but sighted assistance is necessary to complete that process. To hear the time, turn the thermometer on and press the Talk button.

Comparing the TALKiNG and Lumiscope Thermometers

The Lumiscope thermometer consistently read higher than the TALKiNG thermometer. While researching this article I happened to get sick with a fever. The difference at times between the two thermometers was startling, as much as three degrees higher with the ear thermometer. As a test, I used the oral thermometer described above, a non-talking oral thermometer, and the ear thermometer. The two oral thermometers were within one tenth of a degree of each other while the ear thermometer read 2.3 degrees higher.

Talking Digital Thermometer RT8400 from ThermoWorks Inc.

The ThermoWorks RT8400 has many uses including checking whether chicken is cooked thoroughly or making sure your child's bath water is at an appropriate temperature. The package contains the thermometer and a clip that covers the probe and can be used for hanging.

Documentation

Documentation is not available in an immediately accessible format. However the manual may be downloaded in PDF. Customer service is available at (800) 393-6434.

Description

The ThermoWorks RT8400 is approximately 9 inches long. The top part is plastic and the 5-inch slender pointed probe is metal. At the top is a loop that can be used to hang the thermometer from a hook. Below that is a display window, a large oval button and openings for the speaker. At the top of the back side of the unit is the battery compartment, which opens easily with a small loop at the top. The unit takes two AAA batteries (included). Below the battery compartment is a little switch for choosing readings in Fahrenheit or Celsius. By default the unit is set to Fahrenheit.

The ThermoWorks RT8400 has a range from negative 58 degrees to 572 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the manual it's accurate to within 1.8 degrees.

Using the ThermoWorks RT8400

Before using the thermometer, the contact prevention strip must be removed from the battery compartment. To get a temperature reading, first press the large oval button on the front of the thermometer. Within a couple of seconds the unit will beep. Next, insert the end of the probe into the item to be checked and press the button again. Almost immediately the thermometer will announce the temperature. If left idle for ten minutes, the ThermoWorks RT8400 will automatically turn itself off.

The unit was tested in a variety of situations. A seafood dish needed to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. While cooking, the thermometer's probe was inserted into the middle of the dish. Each time it recorded a higher temperature. When it reached 165 degrees, the food was thoroughly cooked.

Water was heated to the boiling point and the thermometer read 211.5 degrees, only ½ degree lower than the actual boiling point of 212 degrees. Ice was placed in a glass and water was added to cover it. After stirring and several minutes later, the water temperature read 33.4, only 1.4 degrees above freezing.

This thermometer is easy to operate. During the testing process I discovered that the first reading tended to be less accurate than subsequent readings.

The Bottom Line

When it came to measuring body temperature, the ear thermometer was very fast but also significantly more expensive (and possibly less accurate) than the TALKiNG Fast Reading Thermometer. The digital thermometer for measuring the temperatures of liquids, foods, and other substances was very handy and easy to use. It's unfortunate that none of these thermometers have manuals in an accessible format right out of the box. If very accurate body temperature readings are a critical part of your health care, the best advice is to check with your doctor or health care provider to see what she or he recommends.

Product Information

Product: TALKiNG Fast Reading Thermometer

Price: $12.95

Available from: Maxi-Aids and mainstream retail outlets

Product: Lumiscope Talking Digital Ear Thermometer

Price: $32.85

Available from: Maxi-Aids and mainstream retail outlets

Product: ThermoWorks RT8400

Price: $36.00

Available from: Blind Mice Mart and mainstream retail outlets

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