Dexcom G4 Platinum – First Impressions


So, last week I came home to an exciting delivery from FedEx: my brand new Dexcom G4 Platinum  system! Unfortunately, my excitement was tempered by the fact that the system did not come with any sensors; those were shipped separately and got stuck somewhere in Indianapolis for a week. I spent several breakfasts staring wistfully at the Dexcom G4 box on my dining room table, like a kid who got an exciting new present for Christmas that didn’t come with batteries. 

Dexcom G4 Platinum - Screen
The screen. I set my limits from 70 mg/dl to 130 mg/dl. I think the narrowness of the target band is a good visual representation of why diabetes is so freaking hard!

But the sensors finally arrived last night, and I wasted no time in sticking one onto my stomach to give the system a go. Two hours later, I was up and running. It’s now been about 12 hours, and here are my early impressions: 

– The Dexcom G4 insertion device is the same — a little tricky when you do it for the first time, but then straightforward. It didn’t feel any different, pain-wise, than the Dexcom SevenPlus.

– The G4 transmitter, which is the part that actually sits on top of your skin, is thicker than the one for the SevenPlus. This is surprisingly annoying, since even though the difference is not objectively very big, you can feel it — this one gets caught on things more easily (I imagine I’m going to rip a couple off accidentally), and also is quite visible

Dexcom G4 Platinum - Sensor
The transmitter, which is slightly larger than the old one. (Note: my stomach is not actually yellow.)

under any type of even vaguely form-fitting clothing (women are so much more difficult to hide things on than men). A customer service representative had actually warned me about this, so I wasn’t taken entirely by surprise — but I did find it confusing, because all the marketing material makes a big deal about the fact that the G4 sensor is 60 percent smaller than that of the SevenPlus. So be aware: the sensor is the wire that sticks under your skin. That presumably is indeed much thinner (I personally can’t feel it either way, but maybe this will lead to less skin irritation). 

– On the flip side, the reason that the transmitter is bigger on this version is that it has a much longer range than the SevenPlus, meaning you could conceivably leave your Dexcom on, gasp, the other side of the room and not get an annoying “out of range” message. 

Dexcom Platinum G4 sensor under a tight shirt
The Dexcom Platinum G4 sensor under a (simulated) tight shirt

– The body of the Dexcom G4 receiver itself (the thing you see your numbers on) is a great improvement on the one from the SevenPlus — less bulky, rectangular instead of oval, and (drum roll) in color! But I just don’t get why they don’t let you scroll back in time instead of scrunching up hours until the trend line is so thick that you have no idea WTF your blood sugar was. It doesn’t make sense. This is especially noticeable because the new design of the receiver is remarkably similar to the 2nd generation iPod — you know, the one with the scroll wheel? — and I keep wanting to use the wheel to scroll back in time. But no, that does not work.


I also do not understand why it is set to display values from 40 mg/dl to 400 mg/dl, and you can’t change it. I never go up to 400. I rarely even get close to 300. That means that pretty much half of the screen is wasted. I have complained about all this before, and am hopeful that they change it in the next version, since it is a very obvious missing feature that was available on the Navigator back in 2009.

Dexcom G4 Platinum Calibration Prompt
Here is the calibration prompt (GIVE ME BLOOD!!!!) and the iPod-like wheel (that unfortunately does not scroll). I do not know why it is upside down.

– Here’s something exciting that is definitely an improvement over the SevenPlus — you can change the volume of the alerts! (I know you could do that to a certain degree with the SevenPlus, but this one has more options.) This is nice because it makes it easier to ensure that the Dexcom will actually wake you up in the middle of the night if there’s a problem (I have slept through many an alarm before, due to its low pitch and soft sound). I’m going to play around with that feature tonight and see how it goes. There’s also an adjustable snooze feature, so you can pick the time between alerts. This is a good thing.

In short, my overall impression is that the biggest improvement over the previous version is likely in its accuracy, though I can’t speak to it yet. I appreciate the design improvements in the body of the receiver, and the color screen is nice, but I think there are some extremely simple and obvious improvements to the data display that I really hope Dexcom takes into consideration in its next version. Likewise, I really hope that they launch software that works on the Mac, so that I actually have a reason to add in events and analyze my data beyond just an in-the-moment snapshot of where I am. Right now Dexcom still takes a very zen attitude toward diabetes management: with no ability to scroll back in a meaningful way, and with no Mac-compatible software to help me analyze trends, I’m stuck in the moment. Which I guess is a good place to be — but I’d like to number crunch a bit, too. 

With all my critiques aside, though, I am thrilled to have the new system, and I remain extremely grateful to Dexcom for pushing the vanguard of continuous glucose monitors. Being able to see your blood sugar in real time is an enormously helpful tool in managing this disease, and I look forward to the day when everyone with diabetes has access to this technology. I can hardly imagine managing my blood glucose without it. 

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Jan Govreau
Jan Govreau
8 years ago

I have a Dexcom & have had it on for four weeks.
i am so grateful to have this, with level alerts I have set, so I can make insulin adjustments as needed.  I look forward to my doctor making adjustments also next visit.  I feel better already with the tweaking I have done with my pump settings & because I can keep my levels from raising very high with boluses. 
I look forward to being cured, but in the gap, this helps. 

10 years ago

Hi there, I use Dexcom and am living abroad for a few months so know these guys aren’t super available worldwide at this time, but there are details here: The Dexcom over the counter prices for G4 in the US are USD $599 for -each- the transmitter and $599 for the receiver, and $299 for the startup pack of sensors, which are particular to the G4 model. (The Dexcom 7 sensors are incompatible with the G4 receiver, the customer service rep just now told me today, 23 April 2013, and it was just one Dexcom phone representative (I have… Read more »

10 years ago

Hello, Catherine.
I’ve read your comments about Dexcom G4 and they filled me with hope.  I’m father of a 7-years-old DM1 girl and eager for some kind of “real helpful” CGM.  This Dexcom G4 seems to be a good option.  We live in Brazil.  Do you know if I can buy it online?  If not, where it can be bought in USA?  Thanks for any information. 

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