I went through this same dilemma. Couldn't decide which one to buy. In a perfect world I would say have one of each. If I had to choose it would be the ET-73. The reason being...... even if you happen to have the one factory therm on your smoker that actually works, it's not giving you the reading at the grate where your food is. The 73 provides a probe that not only takes the temp at the desired location, it also has an alarm for a preset high and preset low temp. This comes in really handy. Especially with a gas and for sure a stick burner or charcoal burner. The 7 will only give you a set temp to reach for the food. Although it will give you a reading it will not alarm at a preset except for a food temp. After getting the 73... actually 2 of them for Christmas, I would have to say it would be my first investment in a therm. Next would be a 7. From that point it really doesn't matter because it is considered an illness anyway...
PignIt says it all almost. And there is some durn good Smokewood Q (lol) to back it up!
The "set" alarms are huge.
You want a nap? You want to know when to foil wrap? Etc. When whatever. The alarm can be set high, and low. To alarm you with whatever you want to be awakened or reminded for.
Interesting. A question though. I thought I read (somewhere) that guys take the second meat probe, (on an ET-7) and push it through a pototo, or a hole in a piece of wood set on the grate next to the food. I have a thermometer in my hood. I was thinking to use an ET-7 to calibrate the grate tempurature against the hood. Then I can have two probes for different types of foods. Or I thought I could do the wood trick to have remote grate tempurature. Bad idea?
Alarms don't mean much to me. I have severe hearing loss. I get along okay with hearing aides, but I almost never hear those electronic type alarms. They're either not loud enough, or at a frequency I can't hear.
I'm sure that would work. Lots of folks use a regular meat probe to monitor the grate temp. I'd say it's your call. Both units do the same thing except the 73 is designed to monitor the internal temp of your smoker at the grate. The 7 is designed to monitor 2 pieces of meat. Just a matter of choice and need. As you can see.... all of us don't necessarily use things the way they were designed.
I think you'll be happy with that decision. One thing I didn't think of... I know you said that you probably wouldn't hear the alarm but the display also blinks when an alarm has been activated. Don't get me wrong... I'm not trying to convince you to buy the ET-73. I've just been where you are right now trying my best to decide. My opinion.... ET-73 first.... then if you need to probe more than one piece of meat... pick up the 7.