Can I get that without the blinky lights?

It seems that every sort of electronic device you get nowadays has to have some sort of ridiculously annoying blinky light.

The set of Bluetooth stereo headphones that I recently bought have an annoying blue light on the “M” button on each earpiece. While you’re playing stereo audio through them, the two lights slowly fade in and out. It’s really quite annoying to walk into a dark room with the headphones on and have a weird blue glow playing off the walls because of it. (It seems that there must be a rule out that somewhere that every Bluetooth device has to have a blue LED somewhere, or it’s not really Bluetooth(tm).)

Then there’s the V740 ExpressCard that I got recently for EVDO Rev.A Internet access. The improved upstream and latency on it is great, but I wish that someone would have written on the box: “Warning, this product includes a blinky LED whose sole purpose is to annoy the operator.”

Specifically, there’s bright LED (low quality camera – sorry) on the card that blinks several times per second while in use. The LED doesn’t provide any sort of indication of data rate, what type of service you are using; just that you’re connected (in other words, nothing useful). Apparently, Novatel thought it important enough to remind you that you’re still online with an annoying bright light right by your laptop keyboard (where most ExpressCard ports are) that strobes a couple times per second. Great idea, there, Novatel…

Then, there’s a PNY USB flash memory stick I bought recently that also blinks many times per second while it’s in use (bright red, this time). This, of course, really sucks if you use it for ReadyBoost, pretty much forcing you to plug it into the back of your computer (to the eternal annoyance of anyone sitting across from you at a table).

Even my laptop (an XPS M1710) is adorned with flashy LEDs, though at least these are programmable (and can be disabled if desired), making them at least somewhat redeemable.

Ironically, my cell phone is about the least intrusive gadget I use in terms of annoying blinky lights. I think that is saying something about the unfortunate state of affairs with modern electronic gadgets and the obsession with blinky lights nowadays…

9 Responses to “Can I get that without the blinky lights?”

  1. Mike Myers says:

    Reminds me of the movie Airplane II:

    Soldier: Those lights are blinking out of sequence.
    Murdock: Make them blink in sequence.


    Buck Murdock: Oh, cut the bleeding heart crap, will ya? We’ve all got our switches, lights, and knobs to deal with, Striker. I mean, down here there are literally hundreds and thousands of blinking, beeping, and flashing lights, blinking and beeping and flashing – they’re *flashing* and they’re *beeping*. I can’t stand it anymore! They’re *blinking* and *beeping* and *flashing*! Why doesn’t somebody pull the plug!

  2. Haha, I’ve always wondered why Bluetooth Headsets for your cellphone have to be flashing like crazy when you’re talking. I mean, it’s located on your EAR, so nobody except for everybody else around you can see that the device is actually working…


  3. Greg McMullen says:

    A very amusing post and oh so true! Personally, if it has moving parts then it will be making enough noise for me to know that it’s on without using a LED, and if it doesn’t, then a non-blinking/non-blinding light will do. I’ve went to the measure of simply removing any offending LEDs attached to my peripherals (mainly my external HDs).

  4. mjbaird says:

    So true, i thought I was the only one who cared. I’ve found that blacking them out with the special markers sold for labeling CD-Rs works great.

  5. Marsh Ray says:

    Solution: Black electrical tape.

    What bugs me even more are lights that blink at some fixed rate (2 Hz seems popular) on network gear with bursty data. I used to have a dumb 10base-T hub in front of my DSL modem to get a decent indication of activity. A single packet would start the modem’s “data” light blinking at a perfect frequency and 50% duty cycle for something like 5 seconds.

  6. Zorm says:

    A friend gave me a great idea for how to solve this problem, start taking things apart and installing switches to turn them on/off. I’m really considering doing this on my computer case and if I ever get unlazy enough some other hardware as well. Makes life easy if you ever want to turn it back on to like show off or god forbid debug the device in some fashion in which the LED will help…

  7. […] Recently, I got a V740 EVDO Rev.A ExpressCard for mobile Internet access. Aside from a couple of shortcomings, the thing has actually worked fairly well. However, there are some problems with it which prove fairly annoying in practice. […]

  8. […] the use of mini USB ports for power. I actually originally encountered a device doing this with the Morotola HT820 Bluetooth headphones I got some months ago, although at the time, I didn’t realize that the […]

  9. Lucy says:

    My laptop is covered in tape. I mean COVERED in it. It had so many LED lights that it was lit up like a freakin’ Xmas tree. Let me count them for you: (1) The ethernet port for some reason has a bright green LED next to it, even though when you plug a cable in, the plug itself lights up. The green LED’s function is unknown. (2) The power button has a blue LED. (3-4) The caps lock button and the scroll lock button each have a pin-dot blue LED. (5-8) The top of the keyboard has two blue LEDs for various nonsense that I can’t even identify, as well as two orange LEDs to indicate volume controls and a red LED to indicate that sound is muted. (9) The mousepad has an a blue LED to indicate it’s working and an orange LED if you turn it off. (10-11) The front of the laptop has two orange LEDs to indicate things I can’t even identify, since they seem to go on and off at random. (12) The side of the laptop has a ring of blue LED light around the power plug. So, my laptop is COVERED IN TAPE. I’m pretty sure it took a whole roll of tape to get all these lights covered. My laptop looks like an insane DIY project you might see on I really don’t understand why we need all this bright blinking crud. I swear I’ll be blind from it by the time I’m 20.