Meter Review - First Impressions

Judging the Books By Their Covers

Having received all six meters I'm planning to look at, and their supplies, it's time to start looking at them a bit more seriously. Beyond questions of accuracy, compatibility, and cost of supplies; beyond on-device features, software compatibility, and physician preferences -- there is the issue of size. Let's face it, most of us are much more likely to travel with small, lightweight devices in compact cases, than with large ones. On the other hand, those of us with other accessibility issues (vision issues, arthritis- and neuropathy-related grip issues, etc.) may want something a bit larger, with bigger and/or audible displays, and contours that make the devices easier to hold and operate. Those of us who log manually, or who don't have access to a Web-based log or a PDA-based log away from home may need to tuck a small notepad and pen in our meter cases to jot down meal and medication times, carb counts, and exercise details. And it's always a good idea to keep the "quick info" sheet and personal identification with one's meter, just in case.

Size and Shape

That being said, I've photographed each of the meters by themselves, and each of the cases, to give an idea of how much volume you might expect to carry for any given meter. I've also photographed the interiors and commented on the features of the cases to give an idea of what accoutrements you might need to carry separately. These can be found in my TuDiabetes photo album, Meter Review. Everything is photographed against a 1" grid -- while not as accurate as most scientific photography, it should give you some basic first impressions.

A more quantitative analysis:

Meter Device size Case size Case features
Accu-Chek Aviva 3.7" x 2.09" x 0.87" 6" x 4" x 1.5" Semi-hard case. One interior zippered mesh compartment. No space for pen or logbook. No belt loop.
Freestyle Lite 2.9" x 1.57" x 0.65" 5" x 4.25" x 1.75" Interior pocket, interior zippered mesh compartment. Outside open pocket with Velcro patch to secure; Velcro belt loop.
One Touch Ultra2 3.12" x 2.625" x 0.9" 5.5" x 3.75" x 2.125" Interior Velcro-closed pocket (hard to locate), interior zippered mesh compartment. Outside flap bellows pocket with Velcro closure, elastic pen loop, Velcro belt loop.
One Touch Ultra Mini 4.25" x 1.26" x 0.67" 6" x 3" x 2.25" Interior pocket, interior zippered mesh compartment. Outside flap bellows pocket with Velcro closure, elastic pen loop, Velcro belt loop.
Advocate Duo 2.875" x 2.5" x 3.5" (folded for travel) 6.5" x3.7 5" x 2.875" Interior zippered mesh compartment, 2 interior elastic loops (intended for securing strips). No belt loop; insufficient interior space for logbook and pen.
Agamatrix/Wavesense Keynote 1.6" x 2.8" x 0.6" 5.5" x 3.25" x 1.75" Two Velcro-patch-closed interior zipper compartments. No place for pen, logbook, or quick-info" sheet.

Case Functionality

The Aviva's case also seems a bit oversized and underfeatured for its components. On the plus side, the semirigid case protects the meter against accidental drops. On the minus side, the case is just too small to slip in a small logbook and has no place to hold a pen.

Abbott provided the same case for the Freestyle Lite as it did for its version of the Freestyle Flash. It's a soft case that I often strain to close, as the zippered mesh pocket holds lancets, control solution, and the alternate lancing-device cap; the interior pocket holds prep packets and the quick-info fold-out; and I slip a 3" x 5", top-bound, spiral assignment pad and two pens into the exterior pocket (which renders the Velcro patch closure unusable). (Abbott's supplied logbook would be a better fit, but does not give me the data flexibility I want.) My Other Half slips his Freestyle Flash case into the front pocket of his size 56 trousers; mine slips into a moderately-large handbag. If I kept the back pocket Velcro'd shut, I could safely Velcro the case onto a load-bearing belt.

The case for the One Touch Ultra2 is similar in size and shape to that of the Freestyle Lite with the following differences:

  • instead of an elastic loop to hold the meter, it fits into a molded rubber holder
  • the full-length Velcro closure on the internal pocket makes it a safe container for to-be-disposed materials - but too shallow to fit the quick-info flyer
  • the belt loop and the exterior pocket are on opposite faces of the case exterior, making for a more secure belt-carry
  • there is a separate elastic pen holder on the outside of the case
  • the exterior bellows pocket holds more volume than the Freestyle case's exterior pocket, but the Velcro'd flap closure makes it too short to carry a 3" x 5" assignment pad -- though it will comfortably carry the OneTouch-branded log book.

Except for its size and shape, the case for the One Touch Ultra Mini is almost identical to that of the Ultra 2. The open interior pocket holds the quick-reference card, but cannot be used to securely hold used supplies. The long and narrow profile will just about accommodate the OneTouch-branded log book in either interior or exterior pocket.

The Advocate Duo's case, while huge, is very poorly designed. Securing a vial of strips in either of the elastic loops designed for that purpose -- much less both -- makes the case impossible to close. The case can be slipped into a tote bag or a backpack, but is too large to fit in a coat pocket. While the case takes up less volume than my Lumiscope wrist pressure cuff and Keynote monitor, the current arrangement is less functional.

The Keynote's case is small and compact with no wasted space. As packed, the control solution and alternate-site lancing cap sit in the smaller of the two Velcro-patched mesh pockets, with a packet of 10 lancets in the larger pocket. Add in a vial of strips, and the case is strained to close. Move a handful of unpacketed lancets into the smaller pocket, the control solution and alternate cap into the larger pocket, and it's less of a strain. There's no belt loop -- so you can't just Velcro the kit onto your jeans belt and be off -- however, the case is so compact that you can fit into the back pocket of most adult jeans (even most women's jeans). On the other hand, there's no room in the case for a pen or logbook, so you may need to carry that separately.

Next up, I'll tackle the initial setup and tactile impressions of the meters themselves.