By Odin’s Beard: Impressions of Dexcom’s G4 after 48 Hours

48 hours is enough time to offer hyperbolic impressions of this thing, right? Right.

As previously mentioned, I’m going to wear out my current Seven Plus sensor while I’m in the opening stanza of my time with the G4. I think the concurrent CGM-ing will better amplify the differences between the two systems. I know some of these observations won’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of things since the Seven Plus is being phased out, but you never know who’s reading. And I want to put some thoughts down now before I fall back into the routine. Diabetes is new and exciting again thanks to the G4 – let’s celebrate.

First things first, the transmitter. By Odin’s Beard, this thing is huge. Dayle has been using the G4 for about a month and I’ve seen others comment on the size of the transmitter but you can’t fully appreciate these comments until you slap one on yourself. Believe the hype, this thing is ridiculous. For some perspective, I want to put the size difference in a proper context, I’m thinking of stacking some pennies to document the difference. It worked for insulin pen needles, right?

I can’t fully comment on the accuracy after just 48-hours so just put “So far” before every one of these two statements.

  • The G4 has indicated rising/falling blood glucose sooner. Even if only by a few minutes, sometimes that can make the difference.
  • The Seven Plus seems to react a lot more aggressively to rising/falling blood glucose. There have been a number of “north” arrows on the Seven Plus while the G4 is simply pointing “north east”. Basically the Seven Plus thinks everything is the end of the world. Crazy Kermit hands and all.

The sensor itself isn’t very different from its predecessor save for one very, very small change. The cover that you peel off from the adhesive side of the sensor has lost the little adhesive bit at the wings. It’s a super small change that Dexcom has no reason to include in a press release, but I’ve had a number of “hanging chad” incidents when prepping a new sensor. Not having to deal with the wing tips on the adhesive, while only saving me seconds out of the day, is a nice change. If Dexcom took the time to make changes like this to their system, it give me hope to the idea that they really took to heart all of the user feedback they collected during the development of the G4. (More on that in a bit).

Have I mentioned how big the transmitter is? Seriously. Huge.

The receiver will, understandably, gets the majority of the focus with respect to big changes. I’m a big fan of the iPod Nano-ness of the new receiver. The fact that it fits in the pointless pocket in my jeans (I don’t remember who first called it a ‘Platinum Pocket’) is a nice party trick.

Tangent: I made a list of things I can do while I wait for the display to come on after hitting a button:

  • my taxes
  • watch the Lord of the Rings extended edition (all 3 movies)
  • develop the physical ability to and then run in a marathon
  • grow a beard
  • learn Klingon

The biggest improvements for me, so far, are with the receiver display – and this is where I think all of that user feedback made the biggest difference. (Back to bullet points)

  • The scale moved from the left side of the graph to the right. Now when I’m looking at the most recent data point the scale is literally right there. Granted, an inch to the left isn’t that big of a deal but most of the time I’m only looking at my receiver for a quick sync. The receiver should be in place to accelerate information gathering, and having the scale on the right speeds up the process tremendously.
  • The graph is color coded. Red means you’re below your low threshold, yellow means you’re above. Now those 24-hour graph pictures tell a much clearer story about where my diabetes has taken me.
  • The current reading at the top is color coded too. This means regardless of where your eyeballs go first, all of the data presented is designed to give you as much information as possible.

I can’t stress how big of a deal these changes are for me. These intuitive improvements tell me that Dexcom cares as much about the user experience as they do for the science. I’m sure other companies spend plenty of time soliciting user opinions and gathering as much data as possible through various market research techniques but Dexcom is the only company that I have a direct relationship with. Maybe one of you, my eager readers, can comment on insulin pump improvements from one generation to another, but if Dexcom is the standard for utilizing user feedback, I think we’re going to be okay.

We'll just ignore the part where the graph said 160 but my actual #bgnow was 117 :)

We’ll just ignore the part where the graph said 160 but my actual #bgnow was 117 :)

10 thoughts on “By Odin’s Beard: Impressions of Dexcom’s G4 after 48 Hours

  1. Great post Christopher! I didn’t even notice the missing flappy sticky thingys! I kinda liked them to help pull off the adhesive. Excellent points here- I agree with the less than super changes of transmitter size and response time of the screen. I feel like the response time gets even longer since I’ve had it Or maybe I’m thinking about watching Lord of the Rings now so it seems longer…

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  2. Great review!! First time seeing your blog! Will definitely be back! My t1 12 year old is a new dex user and the comparisons to old version is so useful!!

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  3. Just started using the new G4 and love the new smaller size but the case is an awful design and I find the charger cord to short. I never use my computer to charge it so if I’m using a plug it has to sit on the floor.

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  4. Giving the g4 a whirl but have to say i’m really unhappy with the transmitter size. The thing looks like a growth on my stomach through my shirt.

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  5. Pingback: Review: Dexcom G4 | Insulin pumps need Tetris

  6. I just received my G4 in the mail this afternoon. The transmitter is very big, and the literature tells me that the battery life is now cut in half. My Seven Plus lasted almost 16 months and now the G4 transmitter will last at least 6 months? This might me a result of the increased transmission range, now up to 20 feet.

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