As I’ve said before, there’s perhaps no more exciting category for cigar accessories than smart hygrometers. Over the last few years, the idea of creating a hygrometer—a device that measures temperature and relative humidity—that has the ability to pair it with your smartphone has become a rapidly growing segment.
I think I’ve found my favorite smart hygrometer and halfwheel has certainly bought enough of them to prove that. However, the one thing missing from this particular device is a screen. As such, I’ve spent the last handful of months testing smart hygrometer with a screen and that leads us to today’s review, the Inkbird IBS-TH1 Plus ($35.99).
WHAT IS IT?
The Inkbird IBS-TH1 is one of a variety of hygrometers offered by the company. Some are regular hygrometers, i.e. without the smart functions, while others have the smart capabilities. As mentioned above, this one was purchased largely for its screen, and said screen takes up the majority of the front of the device, which is a rounded square. It’s more or less 2.5 inches x 2.5 inches x .8 inches and weighs 79 grams, or .17 pounds. It also includes an 80-inch long removable temperature probe.
There is also the free Engbird App which is used to access the smart features. It is offered for both iOS and Android devices and connects via Bluetooth.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The actual hygrometer function is pretty easy: just activate the battery and you are set. There’s one physical button on the side to change between Celsius and Fahrenheit, but that’s it.
As far as the smart functions, those are a bit more challenging. I first downloaded an older and incorrect Inkbird app. I then got to the Engbird app, which is odd given the name isn’t the same. That was clearly the correct app and pretty intuitive to use, as it has more or less the same features as most of the other, similar apps. You can calibrate the hygrometer, which I did to the tune of 2.8 percent relative humidity; see humidity and temperature readings; and then have the app store historical data. I set the device to record every 30 seconds, though the app also allows for intervals of 10 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 30 minutes. The device will save up to 30,000 data points, meaning that it can range from just under three and a half days to almost 21 months of data points depending on the frequency. On my settings, it’s good for just under 10 1/2 days.
Those data points can be displayed in a variety of charts, including one for MODE, which was a new one, and are presumably able to be exported via email, but I never got that function to work.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The back is magnetic, which can be helpful depending on your particular situation.
- It Works — More or less, the device works. I didn’t deal with weird disconnections or app crashes, and the non-smart side of the hygrometer is great as a standalone device.
- Layout — I think the dimensions of the actual device are great. The screen real estate is massive proportionally and the overall size is a nice compromise.
- The App — It’s not the best but it’s pretty easy to figure out without reading the manual. Charts are big and bright, the key numbers are where they are supposed to be and it functions pretty well.
- The App (see above) — Trying to adjust some of the settings, particularly the notifications, is near impossible.
- Push Notifications — While there is an option for notifications, they are essentially useless as the app won’t use push notifications, meaning they only show up when you are in the app. Note: I seem to have found a way to get these to work outside of the app some of the time, but not most of the time.
- It Was Shipped With Low Batteries — Our unit had less than 50 percent of life left in the batteries when it arrived. The good news is after three months of use it’s only down to 20 percent, but it’s still annoying.
- The Battery Compartment Is Challenging to Access — Furthermore, I’m not sure how I’m going to easily open the battery compartment when I stick my nail in to unlatch it there’s absolutely no give.
- The Temperature Probe is Useless for Cigars — Because the temperature probe won’t measure humidity, it’s not useful for cigars.
- Naming — This isn’t a huge thing, but someone should help Inkbrid out with naming their products. IBS and THC are maybe not the best three letter combinations for products.
The Govee Bluetooth Temperature Humidity Monitor ($39.99) is the direct competitor with the best Amazon placement. My issues with the Govee stemmed from the app and the Inkbird is definitely better. My only reservation is the battery compartment on the Inkbird, which might render the device useless or severely damaged. I still would rather buy the Inkbird and risk that failure versus the Govee, which I found challenging to use.
- Boveda Butler — The $20 Boveda is my recommendation for most people. It doesn’t have a screen, but it does have an app that works really well and earns none of my complaints from above. It is also geared specifically for cigar smokers, and Boveda has big plans for what the app could do in the future.
- SensorPush — The SensorPush is my upgrade pick to the Boveda and what I’m using at the moment. The big difference between the two is the SensorPush has an add-on wi-fi module ($99) that allows you to access your data from anywhere in the world. As someone that has nearly 10 smart hygrometers in various humidors, this was a deciding factor. The SensorPush is $50 and unless you are going to use the wi-fi features, you might as well get the Boveda.
- Govee Smart Hygrometer With Wi-fi — Govee has recently introduced a new version of the device I reviewed, now with wi-fi. I haven’t used it, but it looks similar to the Bluetooth version. It’s priced at $75.99, a substantial premium. Most importantly, it also uses the same app, which means the same issues that I have with the Bluetooth version.
- Kestrel DROP D3 — At $130, this device is not really made for cigars, but it does work. The Kestrel is made for outdoor applications and it can measure a ton of other things like dew point, altitude, station pressure, etc. It’s also made to be rugged and includes the ability to be fully submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes, a feature I tested. It also doesn’t have a screen.
- Cigar Oasis — Cigar Oasis now offers the ability to have wi-fi monitoring with all of its current generation humidifiers. I haven’t tested them yet, but the company’s previous generation wireless solution worked. Cigar Oasis charges a $2.99 monthly fee to enable the feature, but the company didn’t raise the prices of its humidifiers. If you only have a single Cigar Oasis, you are probably better off just enabling that feature as it would take over four years before you experienced any cost savings compared to a SensorPush plus wi-fi module. However, if want wi-fi monitoring on more than one unit, the SensorPush will pay for itself in under three years; of course, you’ll have to use your own humidification device.
Of note, there’s a multitude of other devices that perform the basic smart hygrometer functions without a screen. I’m leaving those off here as I wouldn’t consider them to be direct competitors to the Inkbird and I haven’t tested them.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
If you have to have a screen then this is my current top pick, but you don’t need a screen for a smart hygrometer, it’s just a nice addition. For nearly half the price the Boveda Butler delivers a much better and more consistent experience, all without the screen and the weird battery cage issue.