Review – Lifescan OneTouch UltraSmart

By | 3 April, 2009

Some of my friends (and they are few and far between) are sometimes kind enough to say I’m slightly smart. I know a bit about physics (though it’s very limited) and I occasionally read some fancy books that were written over fifty years ago. You may think this all just false modesty and actually I’m wildly clever, but no – it’s not – it’s real modesty.

Anyway, it’s very kind thing of my friends to say such things and I’m very pleased to have reached the dizzy heights of “slightly smart” amongst my peers and loved ones.

So when I first laid my hands upon Lifescan’s OneTouch UltraSmart I was beside myself with anticipation. How good would something have to be if it was not only slightly smart (like me), not only smart, not only very smart but actually ultra smart? My mind boggled.

Could it do difficult things like hard sums, change your energy supplier or work out what you’ve done to upset your wife this time? I knew that since Banting’s discovery and isolation of insulin eighty years ago the field of diabetes research has come on in bounds and leaps; but could such a small meter promise so much?

No, not really. The OneTouch Ultra Smart is pretty much the same as any other blood glucose meter, except it offers a few more bits and pieces. Chief amongst these is the claim that it is proven to reduce your A1C (essentially your average blood glucose over three months). Having read too much of Ben Goldacre’s wonderfully insightful and somewhat cynical blog over at which includes hideous facts about dodgy scientific trials I immediately thought “cobblers”.

But I was slightly surprised and slightly delighted to see in the fine print down at the bottom of their website the details of just how they had performed their tests to come to this supposition. Lovely! Anyway, having read all the guff I came to the conclusion that it didn’t make a wild difference either way, with perhaps a gnat’s whisker in favour of the UltraSmart.

So anyway, how is it to use?

Not bad really, the test strips are Lifescan’s standard strips which are used over most of their range. So in summary they’re blue, they need to be coded with each new tub, they suck up your lifeblood very quickly and they process the results in five seconds. So far so wonderful.

The screen is easy to read and it comes with most of the usual meter features. So the main benefit of the UltraSmart over other meters has to be the plethora of graphs and statistics it can churn out for you at the press of a button. Most of time I didn’t use these graphs, but on occasions when my blood glucose went all out of goose they were very
handy in trying to track down what the problem might be. All this without have to hook it into the computer and use the obligatory management software that comes with most new meters.

On the flip side the massive brain that it needs to create the graphs does mean this is a slightly bigger and bulkier meter than most. But given you’re a diabetic and you lug a tonne of stuff everywhere you go this is hardly the end of the world. Even smart old Einstein could work that out.

Sample size – 3/5
1.0μL – small, but not small enough

Test time – 3/5
5 seconds; meh, okay

Test strip calibration – 1/5
Bah, they need to be calibrated

Test strip slurpiness – 4/5
Pretty good

Memory – 5/5
Above average 90 days of readings

Sexiness – 3/5
It looks a bit clunky compared to other meters, but on-screen graphs look cool

Beeping – 5/5
Can be turned off

4am test – 3/5
Fairly useful backlight is helpful

Grand total – 27/40

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