Quick look at All-in-one IMs

There are so many Instant Messaging services to choose from. It seems like all your contacts are always split between at least four of them – AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and lately Google. Add Skype and Gizmo, and ICQ, well, it is going to be one big mess.

So the next best option is to use an aggregator like Trillian or Adium ? Not only will it save time, but it will also free up some valuable desktop space and might even make your day slightly more productive.

Trillian is a universal instant messenger for PC’s that brings all of your account contacts together in one simple, powerful application. The current build of Trillian supports the aggregation of AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and IRC IM applications. (Google Talk will work with the pro version, but only after you have done some fiddling around and install a Jabber plug)

Trillian supports the standard features offered in these applications like audio chat, file transfers, group chats, and icons, but adds in message history and tabbed messaging. Word is that this new build of the popular Trillian called Astra will include faster chatting capabilities, more efficient network connections, and decreased memory usage. This is going to be a great new build, so stay tuned for the release of this strong new version that is currently in Alpha phase.

A hot aggregation client for Mac users is Adium. Adium supports the aggregation of AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, ICQ, iChat, and Google Talk services. Like all Mac applications, the interface is pretty. So needless to say, Adium has a lot of beautiful extras that are available, including emoticons, dock icons, contact list styles, sound sets, and message styles. There are a lot of drag and dropfunctionality, as well as tabbed messaging features.

What about online? Sometimes its easier if you work on multiple computers or locations to use an instant messaging application that can be accessed from within browsers. There are a few web based aggregators out there like Meebo and eBuddy that you might want to check out. They both have packed in the ability to tie in to the most popular IM accounts like AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and MSN. eBuddy has its drawbacks as it doesn’t have Jabber support, so no Google Talk. Then there are the annoying ads. But hey, got to pay the bills somehow. Personally, I enjoy using Meebo because of the clean easy to use interface, and the fact that it ties into my main modes of IM communications.

However, nothing beats the standalone application as far as features. Standalone IM applications are the most feature packed powerful solutions out there. Obviously, since they were built with those intentions in mind. They do have their drawbacks, and can be beat out by both web based and aggregation IM tools. What it all comes down to are your preferences and requirements.

If you’re not up for Trillian, Adium, Meebo, or eBuddy there are a few more out there that you might want to check out to find the one that best suits your needs. However, with all the online, offline, and aggregating Instant Messaging applications out there, its sometimes hard to keep track of the ones that can be utilized over the web, and on mobile devices. Here is a little list to help you keep the facts straight, and decide which ones to use:

Standalone Applications:

  • Google Talk
  • Yahoo Instant Messenger
  • AIM
  • ICQ
  • MSN Live Messenger
  • iChat
  • Skype
  • Jabber
  • Wablet

Web based:

  • Google Talk
  • Meebo
  • Meebo Me
  • eBuddy

Mobile:

  • Yahoo Instant Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • AIM

Aggregators:

  • Trillian
  • Adium
  • Miranda
  • Proteus
  • Gaim

If anyone knows of any mobile instant messaging aggregators out there, drop a comment with your thoughts on it!

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