After considerable research and testing, experts overwhelmingly recommend one talking glucose meter as the easiest for sight-impaired people to use: the Prodigy Voice (Est. $50) . It beats four other talking glucose monitors in a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, and it wins awards from the National Federation of the Blind and American Foundation for the Blind.
The Prodigy Voice "not only is codeless and talks, but is ergonomically designed to be set up, calibrated and reliably operated by patients who are totally blind," writes Dr. A. Paul Chous at DLife.com. Dr. Chous is an optometrist specializing in diabetic vision problems, who also has diabetes himself.
"Buyer beware!" says Connie Kleinbeck, a diabetes educator who compares six talking glucose meters for the National Federation of the Blind. While other talking meters "are being aggressively marketed to blind and low-vision users… you will find that you need sighted assistance to use essential functions such as time and date and memory review on many of these products."
But that's not the case for the Prodigy Voice; experts say it works just as well for blind people as regular meters do for sighted people. It talks you through every feature (including setup, testing and memory readings), with a volume control and headphone jack for discreet use.
Helpful touches include touch-coded buttons you can easily identify with your fingers, a button to repeat the last message spoken and no test-strip coding required. The Prodigy Voice stores 450 tests in its memory and offers free, downloadable computer software to help you track your blood sugar over time. Ann Bartlett, a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation who tests talking glucose meters at HealthCentral.com, adds that the Prodigy Voice can also help people with dyslexia, giving "both a visual and audio sample to prevent recording the wrong number."
The Solus V2 (Est. $45) , an updated version of the Solo V2, offers similar voice features; it'll also give you an audible warning if you haven't gotten enough blood on the test strip. The Solus V2 and its predecessor received high praise from David Mendosa at HealthCentral.com, who likes the extra-large display for those who still have some vision capability, the before- and after-meal indicators, reminder alarms and the fact that the Solo and Solus meters come in hard cases.
Most of the Solus V2's other features are quite similar to those of the Prodigy Voice. It boasts a 500-reading memory, computes various averages of your readings up to 90 days, and you can use a mini-USB cable to upload your results to the MyMeterLink.com management tool. The Solus V2 requires a larger blood sample though (0.7 microliters to the Prodigy Voice's 0.5) and is about a second faster (6 seconds to the Prodigy Voice's 7) when returning test results.
Both models offer volume control, but only the Prodigy Voice has a standard headphone jack. And, although both glucometers can be used for alternate test sites, the Prodigy Voice gives you many more options (palm, forearm, upper arm, calf, thigh) than the Solus V2, which offers only the forearm as an alternate test site.
Test strips for both models are fairly inexpensive: about $16 per box of 50 for the Solus V2 and about $20 per box of 50 for the Prodigy Voice.
Although we think both meters are a good bet for non-sighted or sight-impaired users, the Prodigy Voice has a much longer track record of testing -- and the number of accolades it's drawn from advocacy organizations and support groups for the blind is nothing short of stupendous. Because of that, it's our best-reviewed talking blood glucose monitor; but the Solus V2 remains an excellent alternative -- especially if your first language isn't English because it can also talk you through the testing process in Spanish or Mandarin.