Meebo Tops in Web-Based IM Services
If you want to stay connected to your colleagues and friends via instant messaging, you don't need a bloated software client. A Web service can keep you linked to your favorite IM client (and often, more than one client) with ease. We tested six free Web-based IM services--eBuddy, ILoveIM, Imhaha, Kool IM, Meebo, and RadiusIM--to measure how successfully they could deliver the features you've come to expect from desktop software. All six of them were easy to use, and several were very impressive.
All of the services we tested connect to multiple IM clients, but not all let you do so simultaneously. Most connect to the big three of AIM (from AOL), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger, and some add support for such alternatives as Google Talk, iChat, ICQ, Jabber, and Sametime. In most cases, using a Web-based client isn't altogether different from using your desktop software. Most of the services import your buddy list in a well-organized, easy-to-understand format, so you can quickly connect to all of your contacts.
Of the six services we reviewed, Meebo finished on top, and it is one of the few services that qualify as viable replacements for a desktop client. Meebo's site has a sleek, clean interface and allows you to use your existing screen names and passwords to sign on to multiple IM services at once. Its performance was excellent, too: Within a few seconds of accessing the Web site, we had connected to our buddy list, and were ready to send and receive messages.
RadiusIM provides a similarly clean interface and a nice array of features--but you must register before you can begin using it, slowing your initial access to the service.
Kool IM has several attractive features. Unlike most services, it lets you decide whether to view your buddy list, and it can show messages as pop-ups or as windows embedded within a Web page. (Most services use one format or the other.) Despite its frivolous name, Imhaha offers a reasonA-ably good feature set and is nicely laid out; it occasionally seemed slow, though.
Both eBuddy and ILoveIM (which just missed landing on our chart) have a common limitation: Neither allows you to access multiple IM services at the same time, which may frustrate users who have buddies on various services.
Find the Very Latest Instant Messaging Chart
Click on the link below for the latest instant messaging rankings for non-Web-based IM software.