You have considered some of the same questions that I did when I first chose my pump.
1. . How much overlap is there in functionality between the pump and the remote? Can I use it like a minimed without the remote and can I use it like an Omnipod or Spirit Combo without touching the pump?
The pump can be controlled totally by the meter, at the pump, or a combination of both. I almost always bolus from the meter, but like the idea of a pump bolus if I eat something and am not able to test first. the meter also has a customizable food catalog in it where you can check the carbs of your food. I think it is pretty handy.
2 How much insulin do I need to be taking before the 200U reservoir is too small? How often do you refill/change sites?
I found that I use a little bit less insulin overall with the pump. I was a set amount of Lantus each day, and on a carb count calculation with meals and a correction shot two hours after. Seven shots per day is not fun. I was taking about 65 units per day and now with the pump I am at about 45-50, and sometimes less. I change the infusion set and reservoir every three to three and a half days. Really, you don't want to leave them in the same place any longer than that. They begin to itch and the site tends to loose its absorbtion effectiveness.
3. Can anyone in Canada comment on their service/support?
Sorry, I live close to Canada, in Minnesota!
4. . Any reliability issues? I read a lot on here about failures for the new gen of Minimeds and for omnipods but no real mention of problems in this group. Are they that much more reliable or are minimed/omnipod users just whinier?
Early on, I ruled out the Omnipod for two reasons. First, its documented failure reputation. If a pod fails, all the insulin in that pod is not recoverable. Second, in my line of work, I am afraid that the pod would be knocked off by someone or something. I think the Spirit is too new, and needs someone other than me to test it. The MiniMed is a good pump. I like some of the features, such as the colour screen, the food catalog in the meter, the fail-safe programming and the remote features of the Animas Ping much better. Their customer service has been wonderful. I like the programmable warning tones and the Diasend software. It is very easy to use.
As I was nearing a decision, Minimed got a little pushy and the sales rep and I did not get along. Over-all I think the Mini-Med and the Animas are identical in quality. I know Minimed's software is good too. I liked the Animas better because it looked like an easier pump to run, fill and program. The Animas is the only pump on the marked that is titally waterproof. That isn't a big deal to me, but accidents happen and that is one less thing to worry about. The training was done by the salesman, who is a RN/CDE. The Animas package was also a bit cheaper.
I am totally happy with my Animas Ping and how it has brought me back into good control. My endo is equally impressed with how this pump has helped me. Nobody could take it away without a fight.
Good luck. I think you will love the Animas Ping.