October 27, 2009

Bayer Contour USB: First Look

The good folks at Bayer sent me a Contour USB. Here's a quick look.

(See the Update Here)

Bernard my friend, you will be impressed.

Bernard and I have "issues" with proprietary cables. Your Diabetes May Vary, your meter cables don't need to but they do. Except for this one - check it out - no cable. Standard USB plug built in.

Wait, wait, before I say anymore - the full disclosure: When Bayer announced this thing a few weeks ago, I thought it looked cool. So I call to asked about it. They were kind enough to send me one to test out. Wohoo!

No conditions on their part.
No promise other than to try it out on my part.

The full review will have to wait for some more actual use. I'm going to give it to the teen T1 and he'll do most of the BG tests and contribute to the comments. Unill he sheds some blood for the cause - here is the initial out of box experience.

Nice packaging and not too much of it. The meter is behind a little plastic bit. There is a sticker on the screen. BG at 93. Well at least it isn't 104 and some of the documentation shows the meter at a whopping 127 - LOL.

For those of you who have had little girls in you life you will be happy to hear there is no Barbie packaging. Barbie is lashed into her packaging by some freak with a bondage fetish and a heck of a lot of wire. The meter pops right out unencumbered by fasteners.

The Contour USB has rechargeable batteries. That is a first in my experience. It is real clear when you open the box you should charge the thing. The box flap says, "HELLO! - Charge me," or something there about.

USB - figuring out how to charge it isn't rocket science. Find an open USB port or use the charge in the box.

So far the out of box experience is a whole different class than your average crammed in folded cardboard for stable shipping packaging. Nice. Not clinically significant in any way but it is a clear expression of how they feel about their product and how they want you to feel about it.

You get one first impression. Score one for Bayer. Let see what else is in the box.

  • Meter
  • Charger
  • USB extension cable
  • Strips
  • Bulky Bayer lancing device
  • Lots of documentation
  • Quick Start guide in case you don't want to read the above mentioned documentation.
  • Paper logbook (as if)
  • Web Registration card
  • Wicked Cool Colored Lancets.

I didn't think Lancets could be cool.

I was wrong.

Colored lancets are cool. Don't take my word for it. Delaney spoke for the 'tweens of the world definitively claiming all the pink ones. The Tuesday Little Dude, speaking for the 4 year old PWD community, was also psyched choosing purple then blue for his 7:00 check. He was grabbing at them like they were Halloween candy when mom came to pick him up an hour later. Oh TLD you have no idea how much you amuse me.

Apparently Lancets can be cool. Who knew?

Having no actual experience with the meter we seized the moment and had TLD test drive the meter for his 7:00 check in. Both he and Mrs. YMDV made all kinds of happy sounds at the color screen. OK was new toy syndrome but what the heck! This is a first impressions bit and so far this thing is making friends with flashy first impressions.

As you can see the meter isn't large. Just a little bigger than a USB memory stick.

I lined it up against the usual suspects. A little smaller than a One Touch Ultra Mini. Longer but skinnier than a Jazz.

It is significantly smaller than the Ping meter that came with Connor's pump. (I noticed taking this picture he hadn't even bothered putting batteries in it.) I didn't put it in it's case but the case seems bigger than it needs to be and not gray as cool as the Jazz cases.

I did notice two things worth mentioning before I call it a day. The documentation I didn't read says the software runs on a Mac and while the box was about the size of a CD but look up there at that picture - there wasn't a software disk in the box.

D'OH! It is a USB stick!


  1. Great intro! Good job on the size line-up. Nice to know it works on Macs. Do you have any info re: whether it works on 64-bit Vista (and/or Windows 7), and/or any Linux distro?

  2. Bennet, I got one also and I really like it so far. I posted some photos on TuDiabetes.com. Check out the one with the low blood sugar, the color of the readings is different. How sweet is that. I'll wait until the weekend to test out the software.

    Brenda, the user guide (PDF) for this is online here. According to page 56, the system requirements are:
    Windows®: XP SP3, Vista SP2
    High-Power USB port
    Java 1.6.0_07 or higher

    If the software is Java based, it should be possible to run on Linux. I guess we'll find out.

  3. Bennett: Who is TLD? I couldn't find a blog post with his info?

  4. TLD is Tuesday Little Dude. We keep ourselfs entertaind with him while his parents work and or go to a class Tuesday evenings.

    He's a Jedi IHMO.


  5. Unfortunately, unless the docu says specifically "64-bit", there's a good chance the hardware drivers won't work with 64-bit Windows OS's (XP, Vista, Windows 7), regardless the patch level. Most meter manufacturers have been deliberately ignoring the 64-bit installed base. (The two meter groups that are known-runnable in the 64-bit environment both require third-party drivers, and the TI third-party driver for Abbott meters requires some editing to be usable.)

    RE: colored lancets: There are some brands of these aimed at kids (I've purchased through Hock's) -- the problem for me is that they are all the lower-gauge lancets which translates to "extra painful" but not "extra effective". They are fun, though, if you like change. And they are inexpensive. If you have to go out-of-pocket for lancets you might want to look into...

  6. I just received my meter this morning. The software appears to work fine with 64-bit Vista SP2.

  7. Any news on running on Java/Linux? I've just found out that my daughter is getting one of these and Linux is all we have in our household.


  8. If I am correct the BG readings data that lives in my Contour USB meter will download into the Glucofacts Deluxe software that lives on my Mac only as long as the meter remains plugged into my computer... so I must generate a .PDF file if I want to look at the data after removing my meter?

    This seems a bit of a strange way to construct a database program. Hopefully Bayer will realize that and chnge it in future versions as if one loses ones meter they have effectively lost the database with no way to backup and restore that data to a new meter... same if the meter's battery goes kaput. Not at all well thought out.

  9. Hassiman

    I think the Contour stores it's database internally on flash.

    It should be accessible in the same way as a generic USB flash stick so you could always back it up to your internal drive.

    That's from a Linux point of view though, I admit I know very little about Macs

  10. It works with Windows 7, both 32 bit and 64 bit. No Linux distro, but works with WINE.

  11. The database is internal to the USB but is not lost when the battery dies. The database is also stored on the computer when you download it into the Glucofacts

  12. Cheers Drew, I didn't try Wine. It's currently autorunning in a Virtual Machine with the Contour piped through to it.

    Miss pin cushion seems happy with it!

  13. I am interested in figuring out how to get at this data from Linux. They have obfusacted the data. It is, apparently, on the flash drive that has a volume label "CONTOUR USB". This mounts as vfat file system, however, there are no files on it. My next step is to take an image of it with dd and see if I can locate the data.

  14. Technofogey: I have a similar issue with the data on my Walgreen's (Homedics manufacture) USB blood pressure monitor, looking at it under Windows Vista. There is a folder for each reading, but those folders are unreadable by the OS -- only by Microsoft Health Vault. (I see this happening more and more frequently, though so far it's only been with device types that had previously been non-connected.)

  15. Technofogey

    All I can remember (my daughter uses the Contour daily) is that the software has config files but the values within are also hard coded within the Java software.

    That's basically the reason why it won't run on linux as it includes spaces in the filenames and doesn't quote them.

    You can change all the filenames in the config files and change the directories on the hard drive but new ones just appear with the hard coded values.

    Hope this is a pointer