Review: Contour USB & Next USB

Until recently, my favourite meter(s) ... the Contour USB and Contour Next USB. I first acquired this to take advantage of the USB functionality. Not only does the USB port connect to a PC application, it also recharges the battery. You will never need to purchase another battery with this meter. I have a total of three of the Contour USB and one Contour Next USB.

That being said, the reason I have three Contour USB is that they do not seem terribly accurate. I have had reason to question the accuracy on quite a few occasions. When I used a different meter (or two), the Contour USB was obviously out of whack. I did contact Bayer for support and never once received a reply. I also will not use the Bayer lancer anymore. I found it to be one of the lancers that hurts the most.

I switched from the Accu-Chek Aviva in favour of the Contour USB. There were several reasons for this switch: 1) USB rechargeable battery; 2) USB PC connection and desktop app; 3) smaller device overall; and 4) perception that company Bayer made better products. I hate to say this, but I was wrong on all four. The price of the battery is negligible overall. The USB PC connection and app is available for the Accu-Check. The Contour USB is a different shape, not necessarily smaller. And, in my experience, the accuracy of the Contour USB is questionnable (with results between 3.9 and 8.0 mmol, it seemed to be about .1 to .4 higher than other meters, when over 8.0 mmol, it seemed to be way out of whack).

The case that comes with the Contour USB is a slightly higher quality than other meters. I was initially impressed with this. The case holds the meter, lancer, test strip container, and has a mesh zip up area for accessories like disinfectant wipes, spare needles, USB cable, etc. The case has changed recently though, and the quality is lower.

I need to point out that the USB connectivity is not as flexible as it would seem. If you look closely at the picture, you will note that the USB connector sticks out of the meter where the meter is at full width and height. There simply is no way of inserting this into your average PC/MAC without an extension cable. That renders the usefulness pretty much down to zero ... if you need the extension cable, this connectivity is no different than any other meter. Bayer should consider having the USB connector stick out a bit further so that it can be used without an extension cable – to be fair to Bayer, though, they do include the extension cable (likely realizing that the meter is useless without an extension USB cable).

Other than the USB features, the Contour USB is nothing special. The buttons on the top and sides are small. If the meter is left in the case, the buttons are near-impossible to press (the case design is such that the clear plastic retainer holding the meter is covering the buttons -- very poor design).

I do wish other manufacturers would take a cue from the USB rechargeable batteries. Having users keep their meters longer and satisfied sells more of the strips and lancets, doesn’t it?

I was hoping that the Contour Next USB would have addressed some of the accuracy and design issues. The colour screen is a nice touch. Adding more options to the meter and testing procedure is a nice touch and helpful. I like the concept of logging carbs and insulin. Carb logging is for grams only, insulin logging is for both fast-acting and long-acting insulin types.

I already have had reason to question the accuracy of the Contour Next USB. It is similar to the Contour USB between 3.9 and 8.0 where it is displaying high by .1 to .4 higher than all other meters. I have not had occasion to determine accuracy above 8.0, however. I gave up on the Contour Next USB after three weeks. In part that was due to the lack of response from the Bayer support organization. I rely on the meter accuracy to determine bolus (mealtime) insulin dosage ... the difference in insulin units at a .4 error rate is enough to keep me away and looking for a more accurate and consistent meter.

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