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The Mini Meter

By David Mendosa

Last Update: January 14, 2007

LifeScan promotes its new OneTouch UltraMini meter for people with diabetes who don’t have health insurance coverage. It’s that inexpensive.

The Glucose Market Wheel

The OneTouch UltraMini

But my guess is that even more people will use it as a second meter to carry in their purse or pocket. It’s that small.

The UltraMini is both the least expensive and one of the smallest meters on the market.

With a suggested retail price of $19.99, I don’t know of any meter that lists for less. Perhaps even more important, however, is that it is only about 4 inches long and an inch wide and weighs just over an ounce. That’s comparable to the Sidekick meter, which I reviewed here in December 2005. The Sidekick is shorter, but it’s thicker and weighs a bit more.

The UltraMini is especially attractive as a travelling meter for people who already use a LifeScan meter at home. It uses the same OneTouch Ultra test strips as the other LifeScan meters in the U.S. These are the strips that more health plans cover at the lowest co-pay than any other.

Beyond inexpensive and small, the OneTouch UltraMini is simple. It’s for people who might otherwise feel overwhelmed by the demands of managing their diabetes and particularly challenged by meters that have all sorts of functions.

The OneTouch UltraMini is for those people who prefer devices that do just one thing  —  and do that one thing well. Besides its screen, the OneTouch UltraMini has just two buttons.

How accurate is it? A LifeScan spokesperson told me that the UltraMini is equivalent to the company’s UltraSmart meter  —  the one with all the bells and whistles  —  in terms of accuracy and precision. My comparison tests bore out that claim.

Just like the other Ultra meters, the UltraMini takes just one microliter of blood. Because it takes so little blood, you can test on alternative sites  —  like your forearm or palm  —  as well as your fingertip. It takes just five seconds to tell you what your blood glucose level is.

The UltraMini looks like the OneTouch Horizon meter that LifeScan introduced recently in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. But it’s not the same, a LifeScan spokesperson told me. While it has the same chemistry, it uses different test strips.

What’s your preference in a blood glucose meter  —  low cost, small, or simple? With the OneTouch UltraMini you can have your choice.

Sidebar: The Ultra2 Meter
If you want more features, but the same stats, accuracy, and precision as the UltraMini, another new LifeScan meter might be the one for you. The OneTouch Ultra2 meter lets you flag and identify a specific blood glucose result as coming from a “before-meal” or “after-meal” test. Another feature lets you tag specific results with preset comments that can provide later insight, such as what may have caused an after-meal blood glucose result that was too high.

An even earlier LifeScan meter, the One Touch UltraSmart, includes similar features in its repertoire. But the UltraSmart might be just too complicated  —  too smart  —  for people who don’t need to track and adjust insulin use. For these people the Ultra2 is a smart compromise. 

This article originally appeared in Diabetes Health Professional and Diabetes Health, December 2006/January 2007, p. 20.

    David Mendosa is a freelance journalist and consultant specializing in diabetes and lives in Boulder, Colorado. When he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in February 1994, he began to write entirely about that condition. His articles and columns have appeared in many of the major diabetes magazines and websites. His own website, David Mendosa’s Diabetes Directory, established in 1995, was one of the first and is now one of the largest with that focus. Every month he also publishes an online newsletter called “Diabetes Update.” Twice weekly he writes for his blog at He is a coauthor of The New Glucose Revolution: What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up...And Down? (New York: Marlowe & Co., July 2006, and other publishers in the U.K., Australia, and Taiwan).

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