The iOS-compatible iBGStar docks with your iOS mobile device, although you'll need an adapter to use it with new Lightning connectors. The iBGStar can also be used on its own (it has a miniature screen to display your results). The meter stores up to 300 readings; the accompanying app tracks carbs, insulin and glucose, and charts glucose patterns over time. The battery is rechargeable and can last for a few weeks between charges.
Your results may vary. In a clinical test published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, researchers found that 99.5 percent of the iBGStar's readings were within the clinically acceptable range. It gets only a middle-of-the-road accuracy rating from a leading consumer research group, though, and a noteworthy number of users say that they either get erratic results or that their results are consistently 20 to 30 points higher than they get with other meters.
Test results are returned in about 5 seconds and require an average-sized 0.5 microliter sample. You can use blood samples from your fingertips, palm or forearm.
Rich functionality. The iBGStar meter by itself is fairly basic, with a tiny, illuminated screen and memory for 300 date- and time-stamped readings. Where it really shines is when it's paired with the free Diabetes Manager app for iOS devices. The app records your glucose, insulin and carbs, charts your readings over time and allows you to add custom notes. The iBGStar also has a mini-USB port for downloading its readings to a PC.
The iBGStar is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that lasts a couple of weeks. However, it uses the old-style 30-pin Apple connector so if you want to use it with a new iPhone or iPad, you'll need to purchase an adapter for the Lightning port. It's also worth noting that the app upgrades sometimes lag a little bit behind new iOS releases.
Welcome to the information age. Owners say that the iBGStar and its Diabetes Manager app are easy and intuitive to use. Their "techy" component also carries a lot of cachet with the younger generation; quite a few parents post to review sites saying that their children with diabetes see the iBGStar as almost more of a gadget than a medical device. That said, owners wish inserting a test strip would automatically wake the phone and app, and others say it's hard to be sure which end of the strip goes into the meter. Several wish they could delete readings from the memory.
Pricey test strips. The iBGStar's test strips are among the priciest we tested, about $60 per 50 strips. A leading consumer research organization estimates the iBGStar's yearly cost of ownership at about $1,930, assuming that you test your blood glucose four times a day. "Be aware, the test strips for this meter are outrageously overpriced... there doesn't seem to be a source for strips that are priced under $1.00 per strip," writes one user at Amazon.com. It's also worth noting that the iBGStar can't dock with your iPhone when the phone is in some cases -- so you might need to purchase a new case, or get used to taking your phone out of its case to sync the meter.
The editors of ConsumerReports.org test 25 blood glucose meters, including the iBGStar, for a number of factors including accuracy. Full details are available to subscribers, although ConsumerReports.org offers some general information about blood glucose meters for free.
Review: Blood Glucose Meter Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
2. Current Medical Research and Opinion
Researchers compare the BGStar and iBGStar against four other blood glucose meters -- the Accu-Chek Aviva, FreeStyle Freedom Lite, Bayer Contour, and OneTouch Ultra 2 -- using the glucose oxidase method. They find that 99.5 percent of the iBGStar's readings were within the clinically acceptable areas.
Review: Clinical assessment of the accuracy of blood glucose measurement devices, A. Pfützner, et al., April 2012
3. American Association of Diabetes Educators
The editors discuss the new ISO standard for blood glucose monitors, which has yet to be adopted by the FDA, and relate accuracy ratings of more than two dozen meters from a large clinical study.
Review: Practice Advisory, Editors of American Association of Diabetes Educators, Sept. 16, 2013
4. Everyday Ups and Downs: a Diabetes Blog
This U.K. diabetes blog is written by multiple members of a family in which the father has type 1 diabetes. He reviews the iBGStar and finds it easy to use, but says it gives erratic results. In a follow-up post, he relays correspondence with the manufacturer that makes it seem as though the iBGStar might be designed to read a little high.
Review: iBGStar Review - Blood Glucose Meter for iPhone / iPod Touch, "Mike K", March 12, 2012
The iBGStar is listed twice on Amazon.com. Here, it gets a 4 star-rating, out of 5, from about 10 reviewers. Most say it's accurate and easy to use, but could use a few tweaks -- and the test strips are very expensive.
Review: iBGStar Blood Glucose Monitoring System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014
In a second Amazon.com listing, about 17 users give the iBGStar an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5; several dislike that they need an adapter to use it with the iPhone 5's new Lightning connector.
Review: iBGStar Blood Glucose Monitoring System Provided by Sanofi Aventis, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014
About 15 Walgreens.com users review the iBGStar, giving it an overall score of a little more than 3 stars out of 5. Most like the functionality of the app, but a few complain of erratic results.
Review: iBGSTAR Blood Glucose Monitoring System iBGStar, Contributors to Walgreens.com, As of March 2014
So far, about 28 reviewers weigh in about the iBGStar on this U.K. retailer's website. They give it an overall score of approximately 4 stars out of 5. "The first cool thing in diabetes I can remember!" says one.
Review: iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter, Contributors to Boots.com, As of March 2014