Hi-Pro/cables/etc VS Wireless Programming Device
As hearing aids/HAs become more complicated there are two trends that make me go Hmmmmm. One trend is the move to those convenient wireless programming devices instead of using a Hi-Pro/cables/etc. The other trend is the need for firmware updates for the more-complicated HA firmware.
Okay, hereís the dealioÖ
In the past is was an easy decision for me to recommend a Hi Pro with cables etc for self programming your hearing aids/HAs. Today, that decision is not so easy because Wireless Programming Devices, letís call them WPDs (such as multiple versions of FittingLINK, iCube, ConnexxLink, Airlink, SurfLink, USB LINK) are becoming very convenient to use. Buy just one item (a WPD) and you are ready to program your wireless HAs using the fitting software.
There are some downsides with wireless programming devices:
1) WPDs are limited to a single platform from a single manufacturer (evidenced by multiple versions of each manufacturer's WPD). Thus, WPDs will become obsolete when a manufacturer designs a newer platform of HAs. Note that even though the newer WPDs claim to be backwards compatible with older wireless HAs, you will likely get best results by sticking with the WPD that is designed for your HA platform.
2) Most WPDs donít seem to be capable of updating the HA Firmware. You will need Hi-Pro/cables/etc for that.
There are also downsides with Hi-Pro/cables/etc:
1) First of all, the Cables/FlexStrips/Programming-Pills/Boots are difficult to determine what is needed for your specific HAs. Even after you determine what is needed, some items are still difficult to obtain.
2) Tinkering with the fitting settings while your HAs are in your ears with FlexStrips and cables dangling out of your ears is a cumbersome setup, and sometimes a FlexStrip may get tugged-on hard enough to temporarily break the connection.
So my new recommendation is to get whatever works best for your situation. Hereís some guidelines grouped into what kind of self-programmer you are:
Fully independent self-programmer for all model HAs:
You want to program all (or most) models of HAs (both new HAs and legacy HAs) and you are not paying fees to an Audiologist for support. It should be clear to you that you will want to use Hi-Pro/cables/etc in order to gain the ability for programming a large variety of HAs.
Fully independent self-programmer (only one model HA):
Maybe you bought HAs online and you donít have Audiologist support. Be careful about firmware updates. If you choose a WPD and then you need a firmware update to fix a glitch with your iPhone connection (or whatever) then you may be stuck. Here's a link to >>Oticon Firmware Updater<<. It has a warning that says "Note that updated instruments will be returned to factory settings". Therefore, if a self programmer using Fittinglink only (no Hi-Pro) has to take his/her hearing aids to an Audiologist for firmware updates then the Audi would have to save the current programming first, apply the firmware updates, and then re-apply the original programming. Your Audi is not likely to be doing that for free unless you purchased your hearing aids from that Audi.
Semi independent self-adjuster:
Maybe you bought new model wireless HAs from an Audiologist and you also want the ability to adjust these HAs yourself. You still have support from your Audiologist so firmware updates, if any, may not be a problem to be concerned about. Maybe a WPS would work best for this situation for a single model HA.
Legacy HA self-programmer:
Hmmmmm; I would say either method would work well for older legacy HAs. Look at all the legacy iCubes (currently replaced by the iCube II) that are currently for sale cheap on Ebay. Maybe you could snag one of those for programming your legacy model wireless Phonak.
Wild Card = Wireless-Only-Hearing-Aids: These have no cable connections whatsoever. You cannot program them with a Hi-Pro because there is no cable connection built into the HA. A manufacturer may have special parts, such as a replacement battery door with a cable connection. But this special part may not be available to you. I think we will have to wait-and-see how this works??
Firmware Update Necessity? Devices (including hearing aid devices) tend not to need firmware updates after the device becomes mature. So if you are not on the leading/bleeding edge of new technology then maybe you can do without firmware updates.
So you choose your own poison. Remember, itís an easy choice for an Audiologist to use both methods. But most self-programmers will want to choose one method or the other (wired vs wireless) programming.
Note that I intend to update the Original Post/OP as the environment changes.