The folks at Insulet have very generously shipped me out an advance unit of their new color PDM. (I guess they just knew I'd be first on the upgrade list, and wouldn't stop pestering them 'til I got one pronto.) I fired mine up last Wednesday afternoon, and have been happily playing with it since. Here are my impressions so far:
SIZE & SHAPE
The squared-off shape makes it feel more compact, although the unit isn't really any smaller than the old PDM. I assume they made it the same size so it still fits in our carry cases, and the company doesn't have to go manufacturing a new round of those. A company spokesperson tells me that another reason they didn't want to go any smaller was to keep the screen large enough for visibility, and so they could retain the commands written in complete sentences -- which people really seem to like, rather than some "pump code." Also, I am told that this new blue casing material is highly durable, i.e. sturdier so "it's OK to hit the ground," the rep tells me. Good to know.
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The screen's not really full color, but a pleasing blend of green, blue and gray. This may not sound exciting, but it's so much more illuminated than the old screen that I can now hardly believe I could see that old dim thing.
Have a look at them side-by-side. Which one would you like to be squinting at a dozen times a day? Insulet tells me they've now got the highest resolution screen available.
This reminded me of how quickly our older models start to look like dinosaurs next to the newer technologies. I pulled out my original glucose meter, an early FreeStyle, and set it aside the Flash for comparison. Geezus, the old lancing device is a monster! It's as big as the newer meter:
btw, the clear screen on the OmniPod's new color PDM has now been designed so that it can easily be popped out if it needs replacement. "You wouldn't believe it, but lots of people try to clean their screens with Unisolve!" (Yipes!)
Forget about that lame dongle cable you used to have to line up next to the PDM and pray for connection. The new PDM has a mini USB cable port built right in -- the same kind used on most digital cameras. When their new software comes out in June (Godspeed!), connection is going to be so much easier, without any proprietary equipment required. The company tells me this will allow for easier upgrades, too.
I know what you're thinking: have they change the IOB (Insulin on Board) feature on the OmniPod system? (controversial because it currently shows only insulin delivered as a correction, and not remaining insulin from a meal bolus). The answer is no — for practical reasons, they tell me. A change like that would have required further FDA evaluation, dragging down the company's ability to introduce an updated PDM in a timely fashion. Personally, I'm glad to have the upgrade now rather than much later, as the case would have been. I'm used to taking mental note of my meal boluses for IOB purposes, although I really think this ought to be fixed at some point.
Anyway, the new model also features a new menu option on the home screen called "More Actions." Here you now find the operation for "Change Pod." It's definitely a good idea to make this vital option more accessible, I think. Two other items in this menu are prompts to "Add BG Readings," and "Assign/Edit BG Tags." My take on these is that they're meant to encourage people to actually use the record-keeping features more intensely, in anticipation of the new OmniPod Carelink software that will finally allow users to capture their records in a useful way (!)
Something else new is no more default numbers during setup. "Often, people get pumps who have no idea of their insulin requirements. They think the machine will take care of everything, so this is a safety feature," the Insulet rep tells me. "Otherwise, people often just use the default number and think that's their setting. Now they're forced to enter their own numbers and not rely on any defaults."
The buttons on this new PDM are smaller, and "tighter." By that I mean, you need to have strong fingers. My unit may just be stiff because it's new, but you practically have to stand on the "home" button to activate it, and you have to hold it down real hard for several seconds to turn the PDM off. I'm told that this is also a safety feature, so people don't push buttons by accident; I'm feeling very safe.
As you know, the upgrade price is $150. Insulet didn't have a dollar amount for new customers yet, but they expect the current PDM price of $950 "to go up a bit." TBD till their official launch at the ADA Conference in early June.