Full Review - Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill
Traeger, of course, is the inventor of the pellet grill. For years, they enjoyed a near monopoly on the idea while their patents held. Once those patents expired, an army of imitators and innovators hit the market. Currently, I count 16 different manufacturers in the market space producing some 60 models of pellet grills and I am probably missing a few.
Traeger correctly predicted all this and choose to leverage their brand name and experience against all comers. To do this, they shipped manufacturing to China to hold down production costs and then they marketed. It is their marketing and access to retailers that keep them strong. Traeger pellet grills can be found virtually everywhere.
Traeger has been criticized for sacrificing quality and innovation for market share, but it is hard to argue with the results. Traeger still dominated the market space and is the loudest advocate of pellet cooking.
The Traeger Texas Elite 34 Grill now called the Texas Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill is their large, mid-range unit. Large enough to do some serious smoking, this newly improved grill now has a standard upper rack for additional cooking space and two meat probes for monitoring food temperatures. This is actually a serious improvement though the pellet controller is still the old 10-position unit that doesn't provide for a high degree of temperature precision (20 degrees +/-). Of course, pellet grills tend to be less accurate than implied, but while many competitors have moved to a much more sophisticated level of technology, Traeger is still lagging behind.
While a competent pellet grills (including all the limitations pellet grills are prone to) the overall construction quality of this Traeger remains relatively low. While a large grill with all the necessary equipment to make it a pellet grill (motors, fans, auger, etc) it only weighs 135 pounds (it used to weigh 165 pounds). This is because the metal body of the grill is thin and the lid does not close tightly. This means that this pellet grill is not as efficient as it could be or able to hold in higher temperatures on a cold and windy day.
Traeger does not build a bad pellet grill, and the Texas Pro Series has a number of features to like. At around $700USD, it is inexpensive for a pellet grill, but there is a lot of competition these days and many of those companies have worked to innovate design and functionality.