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Blood Glucose Meter Reviews

By: Lisa Maloney on March 15, 2017

Editor's note:
The FreeStyle Lite, Bayer Contour Next and Prodigy Voice maintain their top spots for another year. Their staying power proves that reliable technology beats fancy features any day. Meanwhile, the up and coming FreeStyle Precision NEO gives its competitors in the "affordable" category a real run for their money.

FreeStyle Lite
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Sample required - 0.3 microliter Readings stored - 400 Wait time - 5 seconds

Best glucometer

Users love the FreeStyle Lite glucometer for its tiny size, fast results, and the equally tiny 0.3 microliter blood sample it requires. Experts love it for its excellent repeatability and accuracy in clinical trials. Other user-friendly features that make this the top glucometer in our report include its backlit screen and illuminated test strip port, no-coding test strips, great durability, and a 400-reading memory that calculates a number of averages to help you spot trends in your glucose readings.

Bayer Contour Next Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Blood required - 0.6 microliter Readings stored - 800 Wait time - 5 seconds

Best cheap blood glucose meter

The inexpensive Bayer Contour Next excelled in a clinical trial and packs features that are very rare in this price range, including programmable reminders and the ability to add notes or meal tags to readings. Users especially love that you can apply blood to the Contour Next test strips from almost any angle, and if you don't provide the full 0.6 microliter sample on the first try, you have up to 30 seconds to add more blood to the strip.

Buy for $19.90
Prodigy Voice Meter
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Blood required - 0.6 microliter Readings stored - 450 Wait time - 7 seconds

Best talking blood glucose meter

The Prodigy Voice continues its dominion over other talking glucose meters for very good reason: It's the only model we've seen that can talk you through every single aspect of its use, from setup to calibration, testing and accessing the memory function. The three high-contrast, touch-friendly buttons are located on the front of the device (no fishing around in the battery compartment), and a playback button allows you to repeat the last message or reading spoken by the meter.

Buy for $42.98

Types of Blood Glucose Meters

Basic Blood Glucose Meters

Basic blood glucose meters have just one job: Sampling a drop of your blood and telling you how high -- or low -- your blood glucose levels are. You use a lancing device to prick your finger, then touch the resulting drop of blood to a test strip that slides into the glucometer. Standard features include a memory function for storing past readings and the ability to average those readings over time. Some basic meters also come with software that lets you track and visualize your blood glucose trends, and a few let you program customizable alerts or flag readings for special circumstances.

Talking Blood Glucose Meters

If you have limited or no sight, talking blood glucose meters are the key to checking your blood sugar readings independently. They use audible messages to coach you through the process of setting your meter up, testing your blood glucose levels and recording the results. The best talking glucometers also have Braille instructions, large buttons that are easy to identify by touch, and large, easy-to-read digits for reference by those who are partially sighted.

Accuracy matters most in a glucometer

Accuracy and consistency (also called repeatability) should take priority over the fancy bells and whistles you'll find on some modern glucose meters. For people with diabetes, getting the readings right -- or at least within a reasonable range -- can be a matter of life and death, or at least the ability to consistently feel good.

Just because a home blood glucose meter meets the current federal standards doesn't mean it's the best. The newest standards, released by the FDA in Oct. 2016, require that 95 percent of the readings should be within plus or minus 15 percent of the laboratory control, while 99 percent of the readings should be within plus or minus 20 percent of the laboratory control. That's an improvement over the previous guidelines, but still leaves a lot of room for "acceptable" error.

The cost of the meter doesn't always represent the long-term investment

Even if your insurance company covers the cost of diabetic supplies, be aware that it may only cover a limited selection of brands -- so check your coverage before you buy. If you don't have insurance, you can often get a free meter and a sample batch of test strips from your doctor or even directly from the meter manufacturer.

Watch out for the cost of test strips, though -- they are the greatest overall expense in your diabetic testing kit. The test strips that accompany the monitors in this report range from $8 to $50 or more per box of 50. If you test your blood sugar four times a day, that supply will last you a little less than two weeks. With more expensive brands, the cost of test strips can easily clear $1,500 per year.

Some drugs and glucose meters can be a deadly combination

Certain drugs can cause errors with glucose meters that use a specific type of test-strip technology (known as GDH-PQQ), resulting in dangerous -- potentially fatal -- false readings. The FDA has issued an alert, and you should always consult with your care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Finally, if you're dealing with diabetes, your doctor may direct you to check your blood pressure regularly as well. We've researched expert sources and consumer reviews to bring you a full report on the best blood pressure monitors.

Finding The Best Blood Glucose Meters
Our Sources
"Blood Glucose Meters"
"Accuracy Evaluation of Five Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems Obtained from the Pharmacy: A European Multicenter Study with 453 Subjects"
"Accuracy Evaluation of Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems in Children on Overnight Closed-Loop Control"

We consulted a number of clinical trials and expert evaluations to determine accuracy, ease of use and convenience for the glucometers in our report. Aside from medical journals, our sources included hands-on reviews from sources like ConsumerReports.org, Healthline.com and HealthCentral.com. We also relied heavily on sources like the National Federation of the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind and DLife.com to find the best talking blood glucose meters. We also scoured retail sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Walgreens.com for user input on how these blood glucose meters perform in real-world conditions.

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What every best Blood Glucose Meters has:

  • Accuracy.
  • Ease of use.
  • No coding necessary.

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