Best Thermometer of 2021
The F-Doc V2X Non-Contact is a large, trigger-style infrared thermometer. Throughout our testing, it was one of the most accurate and precise devices that we used. It provides readings almost instantaneously — in about a second — and can take both forehead temperatures and readings of inanimate objects. It automatically turns off after approximately 30 seconds to save battery power and displays 'lo' or 'hi' when forehead readings fall outside of a normal range. Its memory function holds 32 readings and can record both forehead and inanimate object temperatures (most models with a memory function only retain the former).
Our main gripe with this product is the user interface. In addition to the temperature scanning trigger (memory recall, volume, C/F, mode). They are very small, difficult to press, and may be difficult to read for some folks. They also take up valuable real estate that requires the readout screen to be smaller. Lastly, though you won't have to access it often, the battery compartment latch is hard to open. All in all, this multi-purpose device is an excellent, highly precise option that we would gladly keep on hand as part of a household first aid kit.
The Vicks SpeedRead V912US is a basic digital probe model that is easy to use and easy to read. It has a single button and a large, bold font screen and displays a green/yellow/red backlight color that corresponds to the severity of its temperature reading. Press the power button once to turn it on, and the device displays the previous temperature reading for a couple of seconds while it gets ready to take the next one.
The downsides of this model are minor. Its memory only records one previous temperature reading, and it only displays this for a couple of seconds, and then it's gone. As a traditional probe model, it takes between 5-10 seconds to yield a reading instead of the near-instantaneous output of infrared styles. Still, we love this model and think it's a great option for anyone who needs a basic digital probe thermometer.
The iHealth No-Touch Infrared Forehead is a sleek, no-frills infrared contender. Its simple one-button interface is incredibly easy to use — just one press to turn it on and a second to take a reading. The device shares results almost instantaneously in a large font digital readout. Many models beep to indicate a final reading, but we appreciate that the iHealth vibrates instead. Best of all, it is highly accurate, not only taking the correct temperature but returning the same result again and again.
Some folks might like the simplicity that this device offers, but it is also very basic. Despite the infrared technology and futuristic aesthetic, this model can only take forehead readings. It has no memory or color-coded backlights and does not measure the temperature of inanimate objects. It also tends to be one of the more expensive models. However, if you need a straightforward and highly accurate product, this one is your best bet.
The Faceil is a have-it-all-at-once kind of product. If you use it a lot and can get oriented quickly to what you are looking at, we think it is one of the best user interfaces of the bunch. It has a large screen and bold font, which we love. As with all of the other infrared options, it completes a scan in about a second. Taking a basic reading then displays the current recorded temperature and icons for the mode (human body or object), volume, battery level, and memory readings.
The flip side to having all of the information displayed simultaneously is that some people might find it overwhelming. And though it is relatively user-friendly, we found that it is less accurate than average. It also doesn't come with color-coded backlights. However, if you want the speed and convenience of a forehead scanner and don't mind the way the data is displayed, we would highly recommend this option.
The Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass is a traditional glass model. No batteries, no buttons; the benefit of this product is that it is as simple as it gets. It comes with a calibrated insert that allows you to see both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings simultaneously. If the patient can hold it in place properly, it is also highly accurate.
There are a few clear drawbacks to this model. First, readings take over three minutes, compared to an average of a couple of seconds for all other products in this review. Readings can also be difficult to discern since the glass has to be held at the right angle, and the font is small and thin. It is also not ideal for small children or adults who might have trouble keeping it positioned properly under the tongue for that long. However, this is the perfect choice for those who prefer a conventional and precise option.
The Boncare 10-Second Digital is a multi-location digital probe thermometer. It is lightweight, compact, and accurate. Readings can be taken orally, or for small children, under the arm or rectally (facilitated by a flexible plastic tip). It might be too subtle if you don't use it often, but the beep frequency changes depending on whether a reading is 'normal' or high. It also stores the previous reading and displays it for a couple of seconds the next time the device is turned on and before a new reading is taken.
We had some gripes regarding the user-friendliness of this product (or lack thereof). The readout screen is small, and some may find it difficult to read. As a traditional probe thermometer, it takes between 10-15 seconds to produce a reading — not a huge issue, but it is notably longer than any infrared scanner. The single power button is somewhat small, and folks with larger fingers or arthritis may find it hard to depress. All told, though, if you just need the basics, this device is a great value.
The CHOOSEEN is a multi-purpose infrared temperature reader. Its color-coded backlights are a helpful visual cue indicating normal, low-grade, and high-fevers. It has a large font screen for easy reading. It is also versatile, offering the ability to take temperature readings of inanimate objects as well. Its basic forehead scanning function is easy to use, and we love that it comes with a removable cap that reveals it can be used as an ear probe as well.
We encountered a couple of frustrations with this device. It comes with three somewhat standard buttons: scan, mode, and memory. The last two are located on the underside of the product. Since certain features require multiple button presses to access, we found that we had to sometimes turn it over as we were using it to make sure we were doing it correctly. Most problematically, it proved to be the least precise in our review. Though it still provided accurate readings, they varied by a little less than a degree on multiple occasions (as opposed to some products that were far more consistent).
The GoodBaby Touchless is a fast and reliable infrared forehead scanner. During testing, it consistently provided readings within a few tenths of a degree of one another. It can also take the temperature of inanimate objects, which significantly increases its versatility. It has a large readout screen as well as a big 'scan' button, both of which make it easier to use. It holds 35 previous readings in its memory and displays a color-coded backlight that corresponds to the severity of the temperature (normal, low-grade, high).
Though the three buttons each have clearly labeled use (scan, memory recall, and mute/unmute), a couple of other functions like a Fahrenheit/Celcius and mode toggles are less intuitive to access. On the whole, though, we think that this device is easy to use and accurate.
The XDX infrared scanner is quick and easy to use. We appreciate that the required two AAA batteries come included. As with most other forehead scanners, it produces a reading in just about a second. It can toggle between the human body and object readings and has a display and user interface identical to the GoodBaby Touchless.
Oddly, we found that this version is slightly less accurate than the GoodBaby, with a variance of about .5-.8 degrees F between readings. It also doesn't possess the ability to take ear readings, as some other infrared options do, and suffers from the moderately confusing interface described above. However, we would still recommend it for general use.
The GoodBaby is a two-button model with a fair amount of versatility. It has memory for 35 forehead readings and a color-coded indicator light to tell you when it takes a normal or high reading. The backlit display makes it relatively easy to read, and it beeps as it displays the recorded temperature. This infrared scanner can take readings from the forehead or the ear.
The issues we experienced with this model are comparatively minor, but they add up. Though we appreciate the temperature indicator light, our testers preferred models that incorporate the colors into the backlight of the main display rather than making it a separate part of the device. The product also just feels a little cheaper, with buttons that make a deeper cuh-chunking sound and print that we think will rub off over time. We also found that the ear probe cover doesn't have grip tabs, so it is very slippery and challenging to pull off. Shortcomings aside, this thermometer is still a versatile tool to have at your family's disposal.
Why You Should Trust Us
Lead reviewer Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been with GearLab for almost four years. In that time, he has tested over 200 individual home goods and consumer electronics products and researched hundreds of others, from electric razors to toothbrush heads, facial tissues, and candles. Thermometers are a critical part of at-home medical care; as a former wilderness first responder, Ben is no stranger to the necessity for speedy and accurate information.
At GearLab, we purchase the products that we test at retail price and do not accept any manufacturer samples. For this review, we calibrate and test each product for accuracy, assess its ease of use across a range of users, time how long it takes for each device to record a reading, and note any additional features that improve the performance of a product.
Analysis and Test Results
We looked at a few different metrics during testing. From accuracy to ease of use, we highlight the thermometers that outperform the rest in each one.
Accuracy is the degree to which any given reading by a product represents someone's true temperature. That is, if you have a fever of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you want confidence that your thermometer will tell you that your temperature is 100.5 degrees. We prioritized accuracy as the most important metric for a thermometer. During testing, all of the models performed very well. When used as directed, we would gladly rely on any of them to tell us whether or not we had a fever.
This review's three highest performing models were the F-Dox V2X Non-Contact, iHealth No-Touch Infrared Forehead, and Goodbaby Touchless. The first two were accurate and also had zero variance from reading to reading (while the Goodbaby had a couple that varied by a tenth of a degree).
The next tier includes models like the Vicks SpeedRead V912US, Boncare 10-Second Digital, and Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass. These models were also highly accurate with a reading-to-reading variance of a couple of tenths of a degree (about 2-4x more than the Goodbaby Touchless).
The least accurate models were the XDX, Faceil, GoodBaby, and CHOOSEEN. To be clear, they all provided readings that were perfectly acceptable in terms of assessing a fever, but their variance was 10-20x greater than the most precise models.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is how simple it is for a user to get a reading. When you or a family member are feeling under the weather, you don't want to have to navigate an overly complicated set of buttons. Here, we want to know how intuitive each model is to use.
Unsurprisingly, we found that models with fewer buttons (and fewer functions per button), were on the whole, easier to use. This put digital probe options like the Vicks SpeedRead V912US and Boncare 10-Second Digital toward the top. They both just have a single button and take a straightforward body temperature reading. For the traditionalists, the Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass is a regular old analog thermometer (obviously, zero buttons). This one is straightforward to deploy but much less straightforward to read as a result of small type size and having to angle the product properly.
As for digital products, the iHealth No Touch Infrared Forehead also has just one button. The GoodBaby Touchless and XDX have identical interfaces. They each have three buttons (temperature, memory recall, and mute/unmute) that more or less do what you would expect them to and are thus straightforward enough for someone to know how to just pick up and use.
In terms of button configuration, we are decidedly not fans of the F-Dox V2X Non-Contact, which has more buttons than it needs to. They also don't work that well, and the functions are not always intuitive. The CHOOSEEN is somewhat sleek looking but puts two of its three buttons on the underside, making it more difficult to use.
Thermometers have one primary task, but additional features can improve the user experience and offer insight beyond a basic temperature reading. We don't just look at the total number of features but assess the value add that each one brings.
Several of the models that we tested, including the F-Doc V2X Non-Contact, CHOOSEEN, Vicks SpeedRead V912US, XDX, and GoodBaby Touchless, have multiple backlight colors that correspond to the seriousness of a temperature reading (usually green for normal, yellow/orange for a low-grade fever, red for high fever). This feature helps make sense of the readings in even less time.
We also appreciate those that have large displays and won't require any squinting for most folks. Top performers here are the FACEIL, GoodBaby Touchless, and XDX infrared devices, as well as the digital probe Vicks SpeedRead V912US. In addition, all of the infrared models have some sort of memory storage capacity (except for the iHealth), which makes it really easy to track temperature changes over the course of an illness.
Though all of the products that we tested offer a relatively rapid response, the speed at which they produce a reading is also a factor that you may want to take into consideration. For this metric, we simply time how long it takes for a product to record a temperature.
During testing, three distinct speed tiers emerged that correspond to the type of each thermometer. Infrared forehead/ear scanners are all almost instantaneous. They take about one second to record and report a reading. Digital probe options, like the Vicks SpeedRead V912US and Boncare 10-Second Digital, fall into the middle tier with a range of time-to-reading times between 9-13 seconds. Lastly, the analog Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass took far and away the longest amount of time, recording reading speeds of 2.5-4 minutes.
A thermometer is a simple but important tool to have in your first aid kit. There are a handful of different styles and many various convenience features. Whether you are looking for a versatile product for your entire family or just need one that will get the job done at the right price point, we hope that this expert review provides you with the information you need to find your next, best temperature taker.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch