capsule review

Yahoo Messenger with Voice (version 7.0.0.437)

At a Glance
  • Yahoo! Yahoo Messenger with Voice

    PCWorld Rating

Yahoo Messenger with Voice (version 7.0.0.437)

If you want every feature you can squeeze into a single-network IM app, you'll enjoy Yahoo Messenger with Voice. But if you dislike tacked-on extras, you'll understand why I felt ticked off at this free program.

When I went through the installation process, Yahoo got aggressive: Unless you set your own preferences, it will change your browser's home page and search engine to Yahoo.

After I loaded the program, I discovered that Yahoo had installed an e-mail checker, LAUNCHcast radio, and its own Internet Explorer toolbar. Sure, the other IM apps come with similar luggage, but Yahoo Messenger was the most invasive. Thankfully, you can prevent LAUNCHcast and the Inside Yahoo welcome screen from greeting you when you start the IM app.

The text messaging window is colorful without being overcrowded. Plenty of tools--including text formatting buttons and emoticons--rest above your typing field, where you can grab them as needed.

You also get lots ways to enliven your messages, if that's your thing (it isn't mine). You can insert one of Yahoo's Audibles--an animated character that delivers canned quips, often in a foreign accent ("Groovy baby. It's almost the weekend."). Or you can select an IMvironment--a themed animated background, such as Garfield or snowflakes. Like MSN Messenger and ICQ, you can add a picture to your Yahoo IM identity, after which it will appear whenever you're in a session. If you don't like any of the dozen images in Yahoo's collection or on your own hard drive, you can create an avatar.

Yahoo Messenger's integration with Yahoo Mail is unusually discreet. A small envelope icon at the bottom of your contacts window takes you to your Yahoo Mail's sign-in (or straight into your e-mail, if you want to set it up that way). When new mail pops in, Yahoo Messenger pings you with the sender's name and the subject line.

Call quality was poor. My editor and I could make out each other's ramblings some of the time, but we also heard a constant crackling sound, almost like walkie-talkie static, in the background. In addition, some of our sentences turned into gobbledygook, as voice packets dropped. However, Yahoo deserves a bonus point for its free voicemail option; no other IM app in this roundup offers this feature.

I was reasonably impressed with Yahoo's video chats. Our images looked crisp most of the time; the rest of the time, both of us appeared washed out. Two gripes: Yahoo had five windows open during our video conferences: a video image of yours truly, another of my editor, my contacts list, our text dialog, and the as-yet-unzapped welcome screen. It felt like my desktop had been hijacked. Plus, throughout our entire video chat, one of the video windows sported a big ad.

I very much liked Yahoo's file-sending and photo-sharing features. Both were extremely easy to use; and in the case of the photo-sharing, you simply drag and drop your batch of pictures, and your friend at the other end can view the slideshow--without any ads. (What bliss.)

Yahoo Messenger is best suited to users who interact with family and friends only and want heaps of customization options (and fluffy stuff).

Aoife M. McEvoy

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Full gamut of features

    Cons

    • Installs silly features, extra software
Shop Tech Products at Amazon