Saturday, August 23, 2008

30 Days of Frustrations with a Blackberry - Day 7


"Backlight Timeout"

The backlight settings on a Blackberry have got to be some of the most limited I've ever seen. Here's the lot of them:

Don't bother looking for more, because you'll be wasting your time. There just aren't any more. As for the timeout, you can see the single setting available. You can select different durations, from 10 secs to 2 minutes. Yes, you read that right. The longest duration is 2 minutes. There's no 'n/a' or 'disabled' either; You have the choice of values from 10sec to 2mins and you must turn off that backlight after 2mins.

In additon, the backlight setting is effective always, and there's no method to tweak it per application, or even configure it differently when the phone is in use. I will be on the phone, talking away, and all of the sudden the display goes off. Undoubtedly due to Murphy's Law, this will occur no more than a minute before the person I'm talking to asks me for a phone number, address, or on the other side they give me a phone number or address and I need to type it into my phone. Usually you click the top button to turn the screen on, but note that the top button is also the mute button, so turning the screen on also has the fun side effect of making the person on the other side unable to hear you. That's always fun when you're trying to repeat what they said to make sure you got it recorded correctly.

Blackberry users get around this backlight annoyance by using a free utility called BBlight. I too attempted to use this app to solve my issues, but it doesn't. Although it does add more settings, it doesn't add enough. Seriously. Here's a screenshot of what you get with BBlight.

These settings look like they could add some much needed functionality, no? Well, they don't work as well as they say. For instance, I enabled 'On user activity'. When my backlight went out, I wiggled around the trackball furiously. The screen stayed rebelliously dark. Hitting a key does turn the screen on, but I like to try to use things that won't affect the app running, so the trackball would be the best option, in my opinion.

Also note that there's no new setting for backlight timeout duration. I'm still stuck with 2mins or less. With my Treo, I used to set the backlight to stay on, and then just turn it off manually. This gave ME the control of the backlight. RIM apparently doesn't believe I should have control of my own backlight though.

Current disposition: I like to have full control over my devices, including their backlights. RIM refuses to give me that control, so I still HATE Blackberries.

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