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Review: Digsby Multi-Instant Messaging

Digsby is a single application for connecting to popular public instant messaging (IM) networks without having to load multiple chat clients.

Digsby is a multiprotocol instant messaging client (Multi-IM) that supports all the popular public instant messaging networks as well as Facebook Chat, MySpace IM and Jabber. It can also be configured to manage Web-based e-mail accounts and to simultaneously monitor social networking sites.

Specifications

  • Instant messaging networks: AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, Facebook Chat, MySpace IM
  • E-mail: Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL/AIM Mail, IMAP, POP
  • Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn
  • Operating system requirements: Windows (Mac OS X and Linux coming soon)
  • Price: Free
  • More Info: Digsby Features page
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Who's it for?

Digsby is a single application for connecting to popular public instant messaging (IM) networks without having to load multiple chat clients. It is perfect for executives who need to communicate via IM and have no patience for bloated chat clients. In addition, the lightweight design of Digsby also makes it ideal for netbooks or laptops with slower processors.

What problem does it solve?

In the past, instant messaging was the exclusive domain of a leisurely chat with friends or to avoid having to pay for long distance phone calls. However, it is not uncommon now to see office colleagues in neighboring cubicles communicating via these IM networks.

Because preference might vary between different departments or even project groups, some employees end up running more than one chat client in order to stay connected. Digsby helps these employees to stay in the loop by supporting the most popular IM networks.

Standout features

  • Supports multiple chat networks: On top of support for the major IM networks, Digsby also supports Facebook Chat and MySpace IM, which lets users communicate via these networks using the same chat interface.
  • Social Networking: Digsby will also display news updates from various popular social networking sites, eliminating the need to fire up multiple browser tabs to check on these services.
  • Robust/Lightweight: Digsby uses a simple but functional GUI and is lightweight and robust as a result.
  • Customizable: This multi-IM is relatively customizable where usability and its appearance are concerned. Among others options, the contacts list can be sorted via service or status, and fonts and font sizes can be modified.
  • Logging capabilities: One feature that I cannot do without in Digsby is its ability to log all my conversations. The built-in Past Chat Browser also acts as a centralized repository to browse and search past conversations across all my accounts.

What's wrong?

  • Windows-only: The product Web site notes that Digsby is currently Windows-only. Mac OS X and Linux are currently under development, though there is no estimated availability date at the moment.
  • No Group chat: It might be a little hard to believe, but Digsby doesn't yet support the ability for users to communicate via group chat.
  • No Skype Chat: A network that will benefit businesses greatly would be the ability to IM on the Skype network, though it is unfortunately not available at the moment.
  • Not Open-Source: While there is nothing "wrong" about being closed-source per se, there will be some administrators or users who will not consider Digsby due to its proprietary nature.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Digsby Multi-IM has proven to be a robust and adequate instant messaging client for me. While there are other multi-IM clients available for free, Digsby falls into the "sweet spot" in terms of its capabilities and lightweight system footprint. As it is, Digsby is an application that I would recommend to users looking for a functional and reliable IM chat client.

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About Paul Mah

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

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