Bluetooth: The happy pulse says I’m ready… ready… ready…

I’m a big fan of Bluetooth. Especially when it works properly, which is happening more and more these days.

But I have one really significant nit: The *bright* flashing blue light.

I get the fact that some sort of feedback is helpful when you’re trying to establish a connection between your cell phone and your headset. I get the part where the light is always blue (clever… blue… I get it). But it almost seems like certain design engineers are so excited about the fact that they’re using Bluetooth, that they have gotten a little carried away with the little blue light, to the point that it’s obnoxious and intrusive, particularly in the dark.

Case in point: My home printer is an old Laserjet 4P, from back in the days when HP printers were Cadillacs. (Yeah, way back, like when Cadillacs were Cadillacs.) Back when HP printers used to last forever. I retrofitted this printer with a Bluetooth adapter, and it works really well. My wife and I both print to it from our Bluetooth-enabled Mac laptops in our communal home office. Problem: At night this thing pulsates in a surreal blue that makes the home office look like something out of the twilight zone. It’s as if the Bluetooth adapter is pleading, “I’m still here!! I’m relevant! I’m ready WHENEVER you’re ready to print. Still ready… Even now… Still ready… Still ready… Ready… Still… Really I am…”

Bluetooth is cable replacement technology, and I believe it should act like it. My parallel cable never drew attention to itself, it just carried bits when I needed it to. Back when the home office was downstairs, near some of the kids’ bedrooms, it became a huge issue because the kids were afraid of the flashing blue light they could see under their doors, at the end of the hall, across the family room, eminating from somewhere beyond the open door of my home office. I am not making this up. So I dug into the adapter and violated the warranty in order to try and gouge out the stupid LED, or at least cover it with electrical tape. I was somewhat successful, so now the adapter blinks throughout the night in a much more subdued, emotionally controlled manner. I can see it from my bed, but it’s more soothing now, and less manic.

Same issue with every Bluetooth headset I’ve owned. You’re driving down the freeway at night with your headset on your head (where else?), and you’re suddenly distracted by an explosive blue flash to one side of your head (for me, the left side). What was that?! A cop car with his lights on?! Wait… it’s gone. Huh… That was strange. I wonder… FLASH! It happened again… What was that?! I actually spent about 10 minutes during one late commute wondering what in the heck that scary blue periodic pulse was until I realized that it was originating from near my left ear. OK, so I’m slower than most at this sort of analysis. But ultimately, I removed the headset rather than endure the tortuous and continuous blue pulse for the rest of my drive.

Is that what you want in a product? A visual cue so distracting that you have to attack a printer adapter with a sharp knife to subdue it? Or stow a headset in your pocket to silence its visual barking? Enough with the flashing blue lights. If I want that I’ll go to Kmart.

3 thoughts on “Bluetooth: The happy pulse says I’m ready… ready… ready…

  1. I’ve got the same problem with my ‘non bluetooth’ 42′ LCD TV. The damn things got a blue light thats so bright it’s like some teenagers prank. I think they should all be green anyway.

  2. Most of Apple’s equipment use a white indicator light and they have a thing about fading which is fine. Apparently, the iMacs power indicator light can be a bit intrusive when the computer is asleep. So now they made a program that sets the intensity of the light so it’s not so ‘loud’ when it’s sleeps. I sort of think it’s a carry over from science fiction of long ago when you see flashing lights everywhere for no apparent reason like the computer noises on shows now-a-days.

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