NextLink in a word: Disappointing
I started writing this blog post before Superstorm Sandy swept through the area. As I complete and schedule it to be published, it is Sunday November 4th. We’re still without power at home, but it’s just an inconvenience for me. I’m fortunate to have not lost anything significant or irreplaceable, and I’m also so thankful for the love and hospitality of extended family who have taken us in for the week. I plan to write more about Sandy later in the week, but it’s been a week without d-Blogging so I feel it’s time to get this post up. But in closing, I want to sincerely thank those of you who have checked in to see how I’m doing. I’m just fine. Your concern is very touching, and for that I am grateful.
A couple days after starting off with the Bayer Contour NextLink meter, I planned on writing a blog post about it titled “First Impressions”. Things got in the way, and I never quite got around to it. Anyway, for most folks, this meter will be replacing the OneTouch UltraLink, so I’ll write this from that perspective; as a comparison.
Before it arrived, and even shortly after, I was really excited about it. Smaller, less blood, a light on the strip port, cheaper strips; all good things, right?
Well, if the strips are indeed cheaper, Edgepark didn’t get the memo.
But I’ve got insurance coverage, so that’s not such a big deal. Maybe next time I’ll order the boxes of 100’s and see how that price compares.
Anyway, I rely on those pouches that the meters come in. The outside of the NextLink pouch is two-toned, gray and black. Compared to my OneTouch, that’s a plus. It’s not as easily camouflaged against my office chair or car interior. But on the inside, it’s a different story.
Let me start out by saying that I never take my meter out of the case. Since I’m usually on my feet when I test, I find it convenient to hold the pouch in one had and do my stuff with the other. On the OneTouch, that’s easy. Popping the strip vial open, pulling out a strip (hopefully without spilling them all over the place) and sliding in the port on the top is not a problem. Then, I cock the lancer with my thumb as I hold my finger on the top, then slide my thumb up to the button and press. Then I gently squeeze my finger with said thumb until a gallon-size drop comes out, and bring it over to the strip. Five seconds later, there’s my number, right-side-up.
The negatives? I have to wait for the calibration code (which has been 25 for several years) to give way to the “apply blood” screen, then I need to make sure I’ve got enough blood in the strip. (I confess: I omitted the part where I put in a brand-new lancet… because I don’t.) And I can’t see it in the dark.
Now on to the NextLink. Let’s start with the lancer. It’s got two pieces, the blue part at the bottom and the white part at the top, that have to be pulled apart in order to cock the device. That’s really hard to do with one hand. It’s also really hard to do while keeping it in the case, first because that black elastic band always gets in the way of it springing back, and second because that gigantic strip vial is in the way. Even if I remove the device entirely, it’s tough to put back. While the colorful lancets are pretty, I’m thinking I might switch it with a Delica lancer from an Ultra-Mini.
The placement of the stuff in the pouch, and the bands that hold it in place, could certainly be improved. I also miss the loop on the outside of the OneTouch pouch that lets me attach it to my belt in case my hands and pockets are full (totally dorky looking, but sometimes it’s the only choice). The OneTouch pouch has a ring on the inside zipper of the OneTouch pouch, making it easy to open and “dispose of” my old test strips, while the NextLink zipper is the conventional tiny metal tab that’s harder to grasp.
About the meter itself. Yes, there’s a port-light. It’s orange, for some reason. In order to light it up, you need to “double-click” the “Menu” button (quickly tap it twice). How do you find the Menu button (it’s not one of the three soft-keys on the front)? Easy, it’s on the side — the side facing the lancer device, right underneath the black band that holds the meter in the case. In other words, if you want to try to squeeze your finger in that space, and quickly press it through the black elastic band in the dark – twice – you’ve got about a 15% chance of making it work. And if it works, the port-area glows so you know where to put the strip, but it doesn’t effectively illuminate the strip so you know where to put the blood. That’s a good thing, because once the strip is inserted you can’t turn on the light anyway. But at least the display itself is well-lit. That’s a good thing.
The NextLink’s strips are thinner than the OneTouch, and they’re bright white, making them easy to see, particularly in the dark. The shape at the blood-sucking end is different than the other end, so you always know which is which. And they don’t seem to stick to one another like the OneTouch strips do. Plus, they suck a lot less blood, and if you don’t fill it up on the first time, you get 30 seconds to add more blood before getting an error message. I like these strips (but not the gigantic containers they come in).
But the meter — well, they say it gives a result in five seconds. I say eight. See the below video to understand what I’m talking about.
Or, if you don’t want to watch the video, here’s the short story. After blood is applied, the meter tells you, for two seconds, that the blood has been “Accepted.” And as we watch the five-second clock wind down (which makes it seem slower, in my opinion, than just a numeric countdown), the clock also spends about half a second displaying zero. Now, a 5-second clock should show 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1. There’s five digits right there. If it shows 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. 0, then you’re getting into six-second range. Add that to the two “accepted” seconds at the beginning, and you’ve got eight.
In the end, I still like the meter, and I think I’ll keep it. But I’d love to see the case redesigned to make it easier to use. And maybe in the “next” NextLink, they could move that Menu button somewhere where I can press it.