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Old 06-22-2008, 12:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
GadgetGuru72
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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Thumbs up Long, Detailed Review of BBSmart Alarms Pro

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Developer Website: BBSmart - Software for your BlackBerry®
Product Page: BBSmart - BBSmart Alarms Pro
Price: $15
Overall Rating: 10/10

Function

The default RIM alarm leaves a lot to be desired. You can only have one active alarm, and you cannot give the alarm a title or tag it with identifying information. While this may be suitable if you only need an alarm to wake up in the morning, it is certainly not enough if you need other reminders throughout the day.

Enter Alarms Pro by BBSmart.

Although many of you may have heard of Alarms Pro by now, if you haven’t taken the time to install the trial version and put this program through its paces, you should.

Key features include:

(1) Unlimited Number of Alarms: You can create as many alarms as you want, and title each alarm. Therefore, you can create a “Wake Up” alarm for weekdays, a “Pick the Kids up from Soccer Practice” alarm, etc.

(2) Tones: Alarms Pro comes with 4 pre-installed tones for the alarms; alternatively you can select a pre-installed tone on your Berry, or one you have placed on your memory card. You can also select an option to have the device vibrate while sounding the tone. One feature I particularly liked is the option to have the tone turn off once you unholster the device.

(3) Recurrence: You can easily select the dates you want your alarm to sound. Using the above examples to demonstrate, you can set your “Wake Up” alarm to only sound Monday through Friday, while your “Pick the Kids up from Soccer Practice” alarm may only sound on Tuesday and Thursday.

(4) Types of Alarms: You can select between a “regular alarm” and a “quick alarm.” A “regular alarm” is a recurring alarm. Both of the examples above would be considered “regular alarms” that would remain on the device and sound on a recurring basis. A “quick alarm,” on the other hand, is a “one time” alarm. The developer uses a laundry example to illustrate. Let’s say you bring your laundry down to the laundry room and have 30 minutes until you need to transfer your clothes to the dryer; set a “quick alarm” for 30 minutes, and the “one time” alarm will sound in 30 minutes, reminding you to get your laundry.

(5) Volume: You can set the volume for your alarms; this feature works independently of the volume settings for the rest of the device. Each individual alarm can also be set to its own volume. Do you want your “Wake Up” alarm to be really loud to ensure you wake up from a deep sleep, but want your “Pick the Kids up from Soccer Practice” alarm to be a little quieter because you’ll be in the office at that hour? No problem.

(6) Active/Inactive: You can set each alarm as “active” or “inactive.” Again using the above examples, let’s say you and your family take a vacation. While on vacation, you don’t need either your “Wake Up” alarm or your “Pick the Kids up from Soccer Practice” alarms. Rather than deleting them and having to re-enter them upon your return home, simply mark them as “inactive” and those alarms will not sound. When you get back home, simply re-check the box to mark them as “active” again.

(7) Defaults: Another cool feature of this program is the ability to change the standard alarm defaults. In my case, I have a standard ringer on my memory card that I really enjoy using for alarms. However, the MP3 tone is pretty loud, so I don’t want it to sound at 100% volume. Rather than having to make an adjustment for each and every new alarm that I create, I can change the defaults to automatically select this MP3, and set the volume to 70%.

(8) Snooze: You can select any increment of time from 1 minute to 1 hour for a snooze. You can also set a different snooze period for each individual alarm. For example, perhaps you want a short snooze period for your morning “Wake Up” alarm, but other alarms can have an extended period.

Appearance

Alarms Pro is a beautifully designed program. The home screen icon is a simple alarm clock, quite similar to the default RIM alarm clock. The face of the Alarms Pro clock appears blue when you have no active alarms, and appears yellow when you have active alarms. This acts as a quick and easy way to ensure that your alarms are active and functioning.

When an alarm sounds, you are presented with a full screen image that displays the time, the “title” of your alarm (if you provided one) and the option to “dismiss” or “snooze.”

The features are laid out in an easy-to-use manner. Although the developer provides a well-written user manual, it is really not necessary. You can pretty much start using this program immediately.

(Please follow the link to the product page listed above for screen shots).

IMHO, the Best, Most Indispensable Feature

In my honest opinion, the best and most indispensable feature of Alarms Pro is the fact that the program stays active following a battery pull. I use the 8100 Pearl and, due to the memory issues, find myself doing a battery pull (well, more accurately, using the fantastic “Soft Reset” program) to clear up free memory on the device at least once per week. Other alarm programs that I have tested (including the freeware program MyAlarm that I was using prior to installing Alarms Pro) do not remain active after a battery pull. So, if you forget to launch a program like MyAlarm following a battery pull, none of your alarms will sound. Due to the inherent importance of alarms, this feature of Alarms Pro is indispensable. Alarms are too important to leave this to chance. You need a program that will remain active at all times to ensure you don’t miss an important alarm.

Single Negative Criticism

Since I gave this program a score of 10/10, you might wonder how I can have a negative criticism. Well, it’s because I don’t believe there is a way for the developer to fix what I’m about to describe. I think it is a by-product of RIM security.

If you’re like me, you have tons of private information on your Berry, and the thought of having your Berry fall into the wrong hands through loss or theft is unthinkable. Therefore, you have enabled password protection. My Berry autolocks after 5 minutes of nonuse, or when it is holstered.

This security features leads me to my one negative criticism of using Alarms Pro. If you have password security enabled and your Berry is locked at the time the alarm sounds, you will have to enter your password before you can hit “dismiss” or “snooze.”

I should point out, however, that this does NOT mean that your alarm will necessarily be blaring while you’re frantically trying to enter your password. As I mentioned above, you can select an option which allows the alarm to stop sounding upon unholstering. So, if this feature is selected and your Berry is locked when the alarm sounds, the alarm WILL stop sounding when you unholster your Berry. Now that the alarm has stopped and you’re no longer drawing negative looks from your coworkers as your alarm is sounding, you can calmly enter your password and either hit “dismiss” or “snooze.”

If this “unholstering” feature of Alarms Pro is not enabled and your Berry is locked, the alarm will continue to sound until you have properly entered your password and gained access to the device.

Conclusion

BBSmart Alarms Pro is a fantastic program that is both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing. It is simple to use, yet highly configurable. I highly recommend it.
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