There are other instant read alternatives to the thermapen. I love my thermoworks hand held with instant read k-type probe: http://www.thermoworks.com/products/handheld/mtc.html
||Fast Response Penetration, coiled cable
||1-4: $51.00 ea.
||5-up: $41.00 ea.
so the handheld unit plus probe right now would come to $84.00, but they run specials that frequently include a probe. It's great because I don't have to get as close to the heat source and since I can read the results right in my hand, it's always super easy to read. I think it's a great alternative to the thermapen, and wouldn't trade it for one.
A cheap alternative that I have several of is this one: http://www.thermoworks.com/products/low_cost/rt301wa.html on sale for $19.00 each, results in 6 seconds! It is a nice long probe, so again, I don't have to stick my head in the oven or smoker to read it! I love my thermoworks gadgets. Also got an infrared on sale a while back, just for fun - used it last time I grilled and it worked great to let me know my searing side was hot enough.