Ronen has mentioned Cellular Nationwide Network before, but that was several months ago and I would like to mention it again, this time from a different perspective.
You probably read Blackberry blogs and forums often and have run into several people complaining about dirty trackballs. This is a very common problem with the Blackberry, and it’s a two-fold problem…
First, if you don’t protect your Blackberry with any skin, case, cover or protection of any sort, your device is very likely to pick up a lot of dust. Carrying it bare inside your pocket or purse is not a very good idea either. You might think it is protected, but it isn’t. The crevices and holes on the device will let lint get in, and the trackball certainly is the most vulnerable component of the recent Blackberry models. Dust and particles invade the mechanism and the control you’re supposed to have with the Blackberry’s otherwise lovely trackball can become unresponsive. The trackball can be rendered almost useless when that happens.
The second problem is that the trackball becomes very ugly. Blackberry trackballs are all white, and the constant contact with our thumbs will make the trackball slowly become darker and darker until it gets so dark that people with a good sense humor begin to crack jokes such as “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, while less light-hearted ones will simply get disgusted and might even become ashamed of showing their devices in public.
It’s been argued that one’s gotta wash one’s hands more often, but that’s just another joke. I wash my hands so often that I am this close to being diagnosed with OCD. My obsession, though, hasn’t been enough to prevent my trackball from getting too dark and disgusting. Our hands have natural grease that will inevitable stick and accumulate.
The most often recommended solution is to clean your trackball. As if that were easy. No, it isn’t, and those who recommend cleaning it are the first ones to admit it. You have to remove the trackball assembly from the device and take all sorts of precaution: do it like this, never do that, be careful with this, and you should be very, very careful about what kind of product you use to clean the trackball.
I gave it a try. I followed the instructions in this video. The video has another purpose, so there is no need to go all the way. Just enough to remove the trackball assembly. But, once you remove it, how do you go about cleaning it? That’s when I balked. Removing the whole assembly was easy, but the white ball itself is encased in a fragile-looking plastic structure and several even more fragile-looking metal filaments. I was terribly afraid of breaking it, so I gave up.
Then I had the good idea: why not just buy a whole new trackball assembly already? Why take the risk of breaking my device? The trackball is cheap enough that it’s not worth the risk. Cleaning the trackball might work, but there is nothing like a brand new one. Plus, once I have the replacement, trying to disassemble and clean the original trackball is no longer such a scary prospect. But come on, what’s the point of still cleaning it? It’s time consuming and the old trackball will probably never be the same again. Buying a new trackball every six months is not a big expense, it will always be in great shape, and if you buy a couple of them, you should be covered for more than one year.
Just keep in mind that replacing the trackball assembly is somewhat risky. You could easily break your device and void your warranty. But you can do it if you’re careful enough and, in comparison with the idea of cleaning, you would have to remove the old one anyways, so the risk is still there. And that squeaky clean feeling surely is a nice reward for this little bit of courage and effort.