capsule review

Chat Watch

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Chat Watch

Chat Watch does exactly what it says: it records entire instant-messenger conversations and saves them to a specified location. An optional subscription feature allows for saving conversations on a secure network (ChatWatch.Net) rather than locally. This subscription feature must be signed up and paid for separately.

Chat Watch is most useful at home, where parents can keep an eye on the chat habits of their children or teenagers. It's less useful in the corporate world, where anyone with an ounce of tech savvy will spot the magnifying glass icon in the system tray. Computer-smart kids might figure out what's going on, too--so a memory-resident version might have been better.

An interesting feature in the Tools -> Settings -> Parental Controls menu is the automatic translation of popular net acronyms, for aging hipster parents who might not know what OMG means. There are several conspicuous absences from the acronym list, such as FTW (for the win), and the translations are oddly censored ("oh my gosh" and "laughing my a** off"). Is this really the time and place for that?

With support for all major IM programs, this utility has the technical know-how to record chats from any instant-messaging program out there. However, the ease in defeating it means it is of little use until a stealth version comes along.

Note: The free Chat Watch demo saves only the first few lines of each conversation, so the full version will be necessary for any kind of real functionality.

--Steve Horton

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Chat Watch

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