The Weber Performer Platinum is a great choice for those who like charcoal-grilled foods but want the most convenience possible. Its defining feature is a gas-powered ignition system; you simply turn on the gas to get it started, and then turn it off after a short time to commence cooking. While you will certainly see cheaper charcoal grills on the market, none make grilling so simple.
Iconic and versatile. The Weber charcoal grill is the most successful product of its type ever made, according to About.com's grilling pro Derrick Riches, who adds that the Performer Platinum is the top-end version of this "iconic" grill. He notes that it is capable of many types of cooking, a sentiment echoed by users. For example, one user says it produces "some of the best flavored meats I've had off a barbecue," while another notes that the grill "produces wonderful flavor." Other uses report great success with both beef and fish, with one home griller commenting that steaks and hamburgers taste "amazing."
Unbeatable convenience features. Reviewers praise the Performer Platinum's gas-powered ignition, which they say eliminates the need for lighter fluid and makes the model easy to operate: You simply turn the gas on to power up the grill, and then turn it off to start cooking. Other noted features include a large workspace, an easy-rolling cart, and a pullout charcoal-storage bin. Moreover, one user says cleaning couldn't be easier. We found very few complaints about this grill's convenience, although About.com's Derrick Riches finds that the digital timer is simply a "99-minute egg timer" -- more of a gimmick, he says, than a useful feature.
Easy cooking with no safety worries. In reviewing user feedback, we found no comments involving safety problems or concerns with the Performer Platinum. Instead, most users appear to feel very comfortable and confident when starting up and cooking on this grill. One user notes that the lid seals "magnificently," so that charcoals extinguish even before they turn to ash. The owner's manual specifies several steps that should be taken when operating the grill, which include lifting the lid before lighting (to prevent a gas build-up) and avoiding the use of flammable liquids or self-lighting charcoal, which can lead to severe injuries.
Lots for the money. Although the Performer Platinum is expensive, it is far cheaper than the top-rated Big Green Egg. This price difference, coupled with a convenient gas-powered ignition, makes the grill a great buy, users say, although one maintains that a previous version of the model was better built. About.com's Derrick Riches recommends buying it "If you have the money to spend and want it all." The grill's warranty is 10 years on the cleaning system, worktable, bowl, lid and handle; and two years on remaining parts.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Cook's Illustrated editors rate seven grills according to grilling performance, heat retention while barbecuing, cleanup, and quality of construction. Quick grilling and slow barbecuing are both considered, and the comparative test includes a variety of foods.
Review: Charcoal Grills, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, May 1, 2013
About 70 users post reviews of the Performer Platinum on Amazon.com, awarding it an average 4.9 stars out of 5. Users say it's easy to assemble and use, and many say it starts easily and heats quickly. There are very few complaints; one user says an earlier model was built better.
Review: Weber Performer Platinum Charcoal Grill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2013
About.com's grilling expert names the Weber Performer Platinum as one of his top charcoal-grill picks, praising its full range of features. Riches does not specify any formal testing, but his bio describes extensive experience with outdoor cooking.
Review: Top 10 Charcoal Grills, Derrick Riches, Not dated