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[Product Review] Weinmann SOMNObalance e

I just wrote something that turned out as a review in another thread, so I'm just pasting it here. I've only used the reviewed machine and the ResMed S9 so far. This review ain't gonna be of much use for the US residents, but I wanted to let you guys know about this machine.

After my last titration study, the hospital lent me a Weinmann SOMNObalance e to continue the auto-titration at home. I'd never heard of Weinmann before. It didn't look as fancy as my mother's S9, so I didn't expect much.

Then they sent me to the local representative to blank the previous data and adjust the pressure settings. After an hour of enlightening discussion with him, my hopes got high for this machine. I also got to try the JOYCE SilkGel mask - oh, it felt so smooth! Silky smooth and soft. It looked way more comfortable than my mother's Ultra Mirage II.

When I came home, I did my research. Apparently Weinmann is the biggest CPAP manufacturer in Germany - and probably the best in Europe. Germans are well-known for their high quality products which are manufactured under strict standards. My expectations kept rising!

After 8 nights of sleep with the SOMNObalance, I seriously consider buying one! First of all, it's whisper quiet. The only thing I hear is my breath through the tube. I can't tell if the S9 is quieter.

Then it's the mask that comes with it. I love this mask! It's super soft and seals easily. No more leaks in my eyes. And because of the gel both at the nose and at the forehead cushion, I can tighten the mask without it being uncomfortable. It's also easier to clean, thanks to the single layer cushion. In addition, it features a pivoting connector which relieves any upward hose tension and keeps the mask seal intact. They call it "ball-and-socket" joint. Last but not least, there are headstrap clips at the forehead support pad, too, so I don't have readjust the staps after detaching the headgear from the mask.

The machine comes with a two stage filtration system. One foam washable filter and one fine filter. The latter is actually an EPA filter by Europe's standards (E10 class). It filters at least 85% of particles at 0.3 μm. It's actually better than ResMed's hypoallergenic filter - which is very difficult to find in Greece. It's good to know I'm breathing cleaner air.

The heated humidifier just clicks into place on top of the device, saving space - although I wasn't supplied with one, so I can't comment on its function.

The machine features RAMP mode (called softstart), auto ON/OFF, exhalation pressure relief (called softPAP) and a mask fit test with adjustable pressure levels. There's a 3-level leakage indicator, too, representing "Low - Good fit", "High - Adjust mask" and "Too high for effective treatment - Adjust mask".

The SOMNObalance can show therapy information on the non-lit screen (sleep time, AHI, obstructive AHI, central AHI, 90th percentile pressure and the percentage of sleep time with too high leakage). Apart from last night's values, it can display the mean values for 7, 14, 30, 180 and 366 days. These statistics are saved automatically on the SD card in a user friendly spreadsheet format (CSV). On Weinmann's website, the user can download a patient oriented software (SOMNOjournal, free registration required) which reads the CSV file and presents eye appealing summary graphs. Detailed flow, pressure, leakage, minute ventilation and OPP (Obstructive Pressure Peak signal used for the central apnea detection algorithm) data is accessible only via the clinician oriented software, WEINMANNsupport. I haven't been able to locate it on the internet yet. To make things worse, it needs an proprietary RS485-to-USB adapter in order to read data directly from the device. I'm gonna try hard to get a CD copy of WEINMANNsupport from the technician and make it available on Apneaboard. However, without the adapter, it's not gonna be of much use.

On the other hand, I've found the Clinician Setup Manual.
And this is the User Manual.

To sum up, I think that the SOMNObalance e is a really well-designed and well-built machine that delivers all the latest generation Auto CPAP features at a lower price than the competition (at least in Europe). It only lacks the bling of the S9, but not its functionality. The only real disadvantage here is that the end user can't get his hands on the data analysis software (or at least easily).
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Thanks for the GREAT review.
It sounds like an interesting machine.
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I'm just gonna add some pictures to this review. You can see images of:
- the CSV file
- my enhanced diary version of it
- the SOMNOjournal software (in German)
- the machine complete with mask, hose and power brick
- details of the SOMNObalance and the JOYCE SilkGel mask.

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Click on the thumbnails to see larger size. Then click on the image on imageshack again to see full quality.
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Apparently the RS485 -> USB cable is a common serial to USB cable using a different connector on the serial end. If you search for "RS485 to USB" you'll find lots of sources.

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Hey thanks for the info. I have returned the machine and haven't bothered with the cable, though. Maybe someone else finds the info here useful.
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How much did this machine cost? And where did you obtain it?
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Hi 1.41. I did not buy this machine. My doctor gave it to me for a 10 days in order to evaluate my sleep apnea. I returned the machine. Back at November, it was selling for the same price as the Resmed S9 AutoSet (€1050). I went with the Resmed eventually, because of the ResScan software and its popularity (=cheaper parts on ebay).
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The photos don't work. Something is wrong.
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Looks like you have to download each image too view at full size. Stupid imageshack upgrades.
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