Flashlight apps, part 1: Flashlight Pro for BlackBerry – 60 Minutes Edition

flashlight 1Review: Flashlight Pro for BlackBerry – 60 Minutes Edition
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 7/10
Cost: $2.99

This is the first part of a series. Click here to see the introduction of the series.

The first application in this roundup has a big name: Flashlight Pro For BlackBerry – 60 MINUTES Edition v3.0, by Link-two. But in my Blackberry’s Home screen it’s called simply Flashlight. The first problem with it is evident as soon as it is launched: it won’t light up. Instead, it displays a menu. That’s not exactly what we expect from a flashlight, is it? It certainly is nice in the very first time you turn it on and configure it, but then it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It also defeats the purpose of assigning one of the convenience buttons on either side of the device to the flashlight, which I know that some people do – probably not with this application.

flashlight_01-80.jpgThe menu offers several timer modes, from 1 minute to 90 minutes. I was intrigued, of course. First, why does anyone need these timers? I thought to myself: maybe it’s so you don’t have to hold it so you have your hands free to do something else like read a book or change a tire. OK, people, don’t laugh. Let’s just be sports and try to get in the spirit of the thing, shall we? 8-) My second surprise was that this particular version is called 60 Minutes Edition, but it will light up for 90 minutes apparently? So I suppose the 30 Minutes Edition will light up for 60? OK, that’s good! A little confusing, but good. Except that it doesn’t! My Blackberry is configured to turn the screen off automatically after 30 seconds. Guess what: this flashlight app can’t stop that from happening. Then what sense do those timer options make at all? Well, it made a tiny little bit of sense after I delved into the Settings menu.

flashlight_03-80.jpgThat menu, by the way, is not very nice. This application is one of those annoying weird (old?) ones that force you to click everything twice, because instead of activating the selected item directly, it will pop up a menu with rather dumb options like Select and Close, as if we couldn’t do these actions in a much more appropriate way. Many applications do that and I hate it deeply. Maybe it has to do with how older Blackberry devices used to work. In a flashlight application, that is even worse. It should light up as soon as it is launched in the first place.

flashlight_04-80.jpgThat Settings menu reveals that Flashlight can activate the LED at the top of the device, for extra lighting. That is one nice feature. There are five colors to choose from too, and that choice of color affects both the LED and the screen. I am not sure about how useful these extra colors can be. The white one certainly is the brightest one. Maybe you could use one of the other colors as some sort of communication signal. I don’t know.

So I complained that Flashlight won’t prevent my screen from turning off after a few seconds. The LED won’t turn off though, and maybe it will endure a full 90 minutes, but either the LED or screen alone is not sufficient lighting. You really need both to begin to think that this application is really useful.

That’s not a big deal so long as it lights up, and it does, but even with both the LED and screen lit up, it’s not impressive lighting by any standard. It should be enough for you to walk around a house without treading toys or kicking furniture, but that’s about it. Don’t ever think you can really change a tire in the middle of the night with this flashlight application.

There is also a “mirror mode”, which consists in turning the screen off so that it becomes dark and can (allegedly) be used as a mirror. Having it as a command makes sense because there is no way to turn a Blackberry screen off other than staring at it and waiting until it times out and goes out on its own. This command will turn it off immediately. But I’ve heard that not all Blackberry models/screens are suited to be used as mirrors. Your mileage will vary.

Finally, that stupid menu again. You can’t shut this application down with the Blackberry’s convenient Escape key. You have to select the Exit option in the menu, then click the trackball, then click it again to activate Select – the only option this menu will ever display. :evil:

Pros: extra lighting from the LED.

Cons: won’t light up immediately; obsolete and very annoying menu system.

My rating: 7 out 10, mostly because of the LED, it really makes a difference. The application itself is not very good.

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