Friday March 01, 2024

Weber reveals its more affordable, more versatile Searwood smart grill at CES 2024
  Posted by: Engadget on Jan 9th, 2024 3:00 PM

I'm convinced that CES is a grilling show now, and Weber is the primary reason for that. In 2020, the company demoed its SmokeFire pellet grills and Smart Grilling Hub, both of which are powered by its Weber Connect platform. The Wi-Fi-enabled tech brought remote monitoring, step-by-step guidance and other conveniences to the company's product lineup. Weber has since expanded those smart features to some gas grills, and at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, it's adding two more models to the Connect roster. 

The Searwood is an all-new smart pellet grill that will replace the SmokeFire in North America. Besides doing low-and-slow smoking and high-heat searing like most pellet grills can, this model is also designed to be used with the lid open. This allows you to use griddle inserts for breakfast and smash burgers. The Searwood has a dedicated mode that you'll enable when you need to keep the lid up, and you can set the heat level (1-10) rather than setting an overall grill temp. According to the company, a 2 would be good for something like pancakes, while a 7 might work well for bacon and 10 could be used to put a finishing sear on a steak. 

The company redesigned the controller on Searwood, building it to constantly monitor and adjust to better maintain the target temperature during the cook. The display offers larger numbers for the grill temp, while also showing food probe temperatures and cook time on the same panel. The larger Searwood 600 XL also displays pellet levels so you know when you need to replenish the hopper. Searwood has a wide temperature range of 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 600 degrees, so it's still capable of slow-smoked brisket, high-heat seared proteins and everything in between. 

As part of the new design, Weber opted for a cast aluminum construction for the Searwood like it has used for its gas grills. That brings enhanced weatherproofing, but it also helps with more even distribution of heat. The company's Flavorizer bar is still inside and a reconfigured pellet hopper helps with fuel loading. Weber also brought over its Pull and Clean drip pan system to this pellet grill, making grease and ash removal easier. The company even says you won't need a shop vac to clean Searwood, a claim I look forward to testing. 

The Searwood 600 and Searwood 600 XL will be available for $899 and $1,199 this spring. Both of those are cheaper that the second-gen SmokeFire models the company currently offers. 

Weber Summit (2024)
Weber Summit (2024)
Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

In addition to a brand new smart pellet grill for CES, Weber also added tons of connected smart features to its high-end Summit gas grills. Before now, if you wanted access to remote monitoring and the step-by-step guidance of built-in Weber Connect while cooking with gas, you had to buy a Genesis model. The company has greatly expanded its smart features for the Summit, via tech it calls SmartControl. This setup allows you to use either your phone or the grill's large, full-color touchscreen display to set and change grill temp, select your cooking method (direct on indirect) and monitor quick start and preheating so you know when the grill is ready. You can also keep tabs on fuel levels, continuously view cooking progress, get alerts when food is ready and shut down the grill without touching it. 

Depending on which cooking method you select, the display will show you where you need to place your food to achieve the proper results. You do still have to approach the grill to turn it on, which is done with a single press after you set your desired temperature. All of the old burner knobs are gone as the new Summit automatically sets the level based on your temp and cooking method selections. There are up and down buttons for manually adjusting the burners though, as well as a dedicated button for igniting the top-mounted infrared broiler. But, you can also do that by swiping right on the touch display. The adjustable top grate also has the cooking area for the broiler outlined so you know where to place food for the best results.

Weber Summit (2024)
Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Another aspect of the SmartControl tech is the ability to control gas flow to individual burners. The setup constantly monitors and immediately reacts to temperature changes to maintain the desired level and prevent over or undercooking foods. There's an integrated electronic gas valve system that serves as the foundation for SmartControl, continuously sensing flame presence across both the main burners and the broiler. It can also automatically trigger re-ignition as needed or shut the grill down when it isn't achieved. 

Weber redesigned its fuel-monitoring tech underneath the Summit too. Now there's a scale of sorts that more accurately measures gas levels. There's ample storage space underneath and a built-in rotisserie base along with a side burner for cooking sauces and sides. The Summit works with Weber Crafted accessories like a pizza stone to expand the capabilities of the grill even further. 

The 2024 Weber Summit grills will be available this spring in the US starting at $3,899. 

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

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