Chat your way

The latest version of this classic chat client includes a streamlined interface and expanded feature set that looks to challenge text, audio and video chat clients.

This venerable chat client upgrades with a retooled look and enough Preference control to satisfy even the most obsessive fans of customization. ICQ 6 includes video, audio, and text chat modes in a strong push to make the app the most versatile chat client around.

Audio chatting was smooth and painless, although that depends on user connection, of course. There's also a new Quick IM feature that allows you to send a text chat from within your contact list. The text window is only one line high, but perfectly sized if you're just shooting off a quick note.

Many of the notable plug-ins have been folded into the new version as standard features. Standard fare in ICQ now includes SMS messaging and the Flash-movie tZers as well as alerts and skins. Consequentially, the quick-loading app has a larger footprint. Ad banners are nonexistent except in the built-in games, and all text chat histories are automatically saved. Some features, like Push2Talk, seem to have been phased out of the new version, and customizing tZers is no longer an option. Also, the Help option is non-functional in this release.

Despite a few minor setbacks, there are too many improvements to keep ICQ down. Other notable additions include split-screen compatibility, IM forwarding, and integrated Google searching. In enhancing its already rich feature set, ICQ has definitely increased its standing among its many competitors.

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