Using the Demy Digital Recipe Reader

In May, SE'r Hilfy posted with excitement that she got a Demy digital recipe reader for her birthday. I asked her to share her experience with it after she had some time to use it. Today, Jen Blacker posted a follow-up Talk thread asking for that Demy review. Whoomp, here it is! AK

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When my mother-in-law emailed me a link to the Demy site and asked if I wanted one for my birthday, I couldn't say YES fast enough. I'm a lazy recipe organizer. I've got recipes squirreled away in many different formats—cookbooks, pages cut from magazines, email, docs and text files, 3-by-5 cards, etc. Makes it hard to remember what I've got when I'm looking for something different to make. Then along comes the Demy.

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[Photograph: Hilfy]

Here's what came in the box. Apparently, the one I got was some sort of "Taste of Home" special edition that came with more memory. It says it can store up to 10,000 recipes (Let's see... If I start cooking now...). It also came with a power transformer (5-foot cord), a 3-foot mini B USB cable, and two screen protectors.

So, now I've had a little time to play with it. As you may know, it works in conjunction with a site called Key Ingredient, where you input, store, and organize all your recipes. The recipes and cookbooks you make on the site are downloaded to the Demy by synchronizing software that you install on your home system. After some use, I still feel that it will be a fun tool for me and that having everything in one spot will lead to getting to try out more new recipes.

Demy Pros

  • Clunky, chunky, sturdy construction, but light enough to be comfortable with in an easy chair
  • Came with an AC adapter, so I really don't need to worry about batteries
  • This one will certainly hold ALL the recipes and food pictures I could possibly want
  • It knows which way is up, so if the screen is upside down, just pick it up and give it a few twists
  • The short list for when you need several recipes at a time is a nice feature

Demy Cons

  • At first, the synching software needed to be massaged to work properly on systems that had multiple user profiles, but they just sent out a software upgrade so that the synching software now allows use with more than one profile
  • Cookbook sections that you spend time making on the Key Ingredient site do not download into the Demy (You have got to be kidding me!)
  • There is no search function on the Demy, so you're stuck browsing (that's why use in an easy chair is important). The index button brings up a keyboard where you can jump to the first letter of a recipe. I can see this being a major issue once I get the thing fairly loaded. It will be important to keep things organized into narrowly defined cookbooks to cut down the amount of recipes to browse though
  • The Demy does not make use of the recipe tags
  • Getting the pre-installed cookbooks removed required not only the necessary email to the help desk, but also a Demy support email when the synching process did not remove them as it should have. They are gone now and support did get back within a day and fixed the problem that was on the Key Ingredient website

Key Ingredient Pros

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  • Your recipes can be private, public or friends only - your recipes can be open for copying or locked, your recipes can have tags
  • Your recipes can have a picture and a description along with the usual recipe stuff
  • You can import your recipes from files if they are in MasterCook XML (MX2) format
  • You can import your recipes from your blog
  • You can search inside your cookbooks

Key Ingredient Cons

  • Search functions on the site are so rudimentary that they are nearly useless (I have sent them some feedback on this asking if upgrades are planned and suggesting Recipzaar as a model). You'd think since the Demy really has no search that the search engines on the site would be more robust
  • Once you have search results, there are no ways to refine your search or even sort the results
  • Search by ingredient and search by tag bring up a "cloud" page of links that is not likely to have the particular tag or ingredient you are looking for on it (Totally useless!)

I have cooked with it now, and I like it for cooking. I made Julia Child's beef bourguignon using it to read the recipe. It's easy to read from the counter and with the screen protector, I can use my greasy paws to scroll without worry. I can see why they made it so it sits two different ways. Straight up is good when you're using it on a computer, on its back is better when you're cooking with it.

I've got about 100 recipes in it now and have hit the point where I'm going to have to scan/OCR recipes for it. Ah, the tedium... oh well, it's WORTH it!

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