Types of blood glucose meters

There are a number of blood glucose meters marketed in the US. All of them must meet the minimum standards set by the US FDA, which are based on standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Key features that you may want to consider and which differentiate different models, include2:

  • Audio capability. Monitors with sound systems are suited to people who have vision problems or issues that make reading a screen difficult.
  • Performance in low or high temperatures. Temperature is one of the factors that can affect the accuracy of test results. Some monitors are designed to perform better in high heat environments and others are designed to perform better in colder temperatures.
  • Display lighting. Getting a screen that is backlit is a good idea, as this makes it easier to see the display in low light or dark.
  • Memory. Different units have different size memory capabilities for storage of test results. Memory sizes range from units that store 100 readings to those with large memories that store up to 5,000 readings.
  • Required blood drop size. Monitors differ in the amount of blood they require for testing from amounts as small as 0.3 microliters to as much as 1.5 microliters (see below for examples of blood drop sizes).
  • Size and handling. The size and handling of a monitor is an important consideration that affect how easily you can transport your unit (whether you can carry it in your pocket or purse) and how easy it is to use. Monitoring units vary widely in the total size of the unit, the size of the display, how easy it is to operate (the size of buttons or switches), and whether the unit allows the use of an attached disk or drum of test strips to eliminate the need for inserting individual strips.
  • Cost of test strips. The cost of test strips is an important consideration in purchasing a monitor. Even if you get a free monitor from your doctor or through a special manufacturer offer, you will still have to purchase test strips regularly and this can be costly, depending on your insurance and pricing in your region. Test strips can range from .30 to $1.70 per strip.
  • User coding. Whether the unit requires manual entry of user coding for test strip vials.
  • Downloadable results. Many monitoring units offer the capability of downloading test results.
  • Wireless functionality. Some monitoring units provide a wireless bluetooth computer interface.
  • Expanded testing function. Some monitors measure not only blood glucose, but blood pressure and blood ketones, as well. Additionally, some units are designed to communicate with insulin pumps.

Overview of types of monitors

The following profiles a selection of blood glucose meters marketed in the US by manufacturer. (Information on prices and product features taken from Diabetes Forecast Blood Glucose Meters: Consumer Guide 2014.)

Abbott Diabetes Care
Abbott Diabetes Care (1-888-522-5226, abbottdiabetescare.com) offers four different models of blood glucose monitors, three in the Freestyle line, including the FreeStyle Lite (MSRP: $19.99, test strips: $1.46-$1.52 per strip), the FreeStyle Freedom Lite (MSRP: $19.99, test strips: $1.46-$1.52 per strip), and the FreeStyle InsulLinx (MSRP: $49.99, test strips: $1.54-$1.60 per strip), and the Precision Xtra (MSRP: $19.99, test strips: $1.46-$1.52 per strip). All of the Abbott monitors provide download capability and, with the exception of the FreeStyle Freedom Lite, they all have backlit displays. The Precision Xtra provides blood ketone testing in addition to blood glucose testing.

AgaMatrix
AgaMatrix (1-866-906-4197, agamatrix.com) manufactures two blood glucose monitors: the WaveSense Presto (MSRP: $34.99, test strips .37 per strip) and the WaveSense PrestoPro (MSRP: $38.83, test strips .37 per strip). Both monitors provide download capability and backlit displays.

Sanofi
Sanofi (1-855-424-7827, ibgstar.us) offers the iBGStar (MSRP: $74.99, test strips $1.30 per strip), a blood glucose monitor that is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch models for downloading and storing test results.

Bayer
Bayer (1-800-348-8100, bayercontour.com) manufactures a line of blood glucose monitors, including the Breeze 2 (MSRP: $24.99, test strips 1.04 per strip), the Countour (MSRP: $19.99, test strips 1.24 per strip), the Contour Next (MSRP: $19.99, test strips .83 per strip), the Contour Next EZ (MSRP: $19.99, test strips .83 per strip), the Contour NextLink (sold only with insulin pump, MSRP test strips: .83 per strip), and the Contour Next USB (MSRP: $29.99, test strips .83 per strip). All of the Bayer monitors provide download capability and all but the Contour, Contour Next EZ, and the Breeze2 are backlit.

Prodigy Diabetes Care
Prodigy Diabetes Care (1-800-243-2636, prodigymeter.com) manufactures three glucose monitors, including the Prodigy AutoCode (MSRP: $9.94, test strips .45 per strip), the Prodigy Pocket (MSRP: $9.94, test strips .45 per strip), and the Prodigy Voice (MSRP: $68.75, test strips .45 per strip). The Prodigy AutoCode and Voice are both audio capable for people who are vision impaired. All three units provide download capability.

Lifescan
Lifescan (1-800-227-8862, onetouch.com) manufactures five glucose monitors, including the OneTouch Ping (sold only with insulin pump, test strips 1.47 per strip), the OneTouch Select (not sold retail), the OneTouch Ultra2 (MSRP: $59.99, test strips $1.12 per strip), the OneTouch UltraMini (MSRP: $19.99, test strips $1.12 per strip), and the OneTouch VeriolQ (MSRP: $29.99, test strips $1.71 per strip). All of the Lifescan monitors provide download capability and the OneTouch Ping, OneTouch Ultra2, and OneTouch VeriolQ are backlit.

Nipro Diagnostics
Nipro Diagnostics (1-800-803-6025, niprodiagnostics.com) manufactures a line of five blood glucose monitors, ranging in price from $9.99 to $18. Included among these are the Sidekick (MSRP: $19.97, including test vial), which is a disposable monitor, and the True2go model (MSRP: $9.99, test strips: .72 to .92 per strip). Neither unit has download capability or is backlit.

Roche
Roche (1-800-858-8072, accu-chek.com/us) manufactures the Accu-Chek Aviva (MSRP: $19.99, test strips: $1.20 to $1.56 per strip) and the Accu-Chek Compact Plus (MSRP: $74.99, test strips: $1.32 to $1.76 per strip). Both units provide download capability and neither are backlit.

Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: May 2014.
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