Cerulean Studios Trillian 3 review

The good old days weren’t so great. You couldn’t send text messages to friends who had phones on rival networks, and if you ran MSN Messenger you could only chat to contacts who were also on MSN. Likewise with AOL. Ditto ICQ. The quick fix was to install two clients, but with multiprotocol tools that’s no longer the case. Trillian takes AOL, MSN, Yahoo! and ICQ in its stride, not to mention IRC and Jabber (using a plug-in).

Cerulean Studios Trillian 3 review

As well as cramming six clients into one, Trillian 3 lets you embed buddy lists inside one another like folders and layers in a graphics application. You could organise your contacts by both region and type, for example: a parent group for the north-east, say, with subgroups for suppliers, customers and friends. Collapsing the north-east group would simultaneously hide each subgroup inside it, trimming your list.

But apart from saving Desktop space, Trillian 3 has three key points in its favour. First, the basic version is free. This matches the Pro edition until you get to features such as Rendezvous messaging across mixed networks of PCs and Macs, and although it also drops Trillian Pro’s video features it does still incorporate VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) for free cross-client calls.

Second, it’s Wiki-aware, linking keywords in your incoming and outgoing stream to entries in the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). Hovering over an underlined link (‘review’ in the case of our screenshot) pops up an extended tooltip containing the relevant Wikipedia entry, saving blushes all round when your buddy wanders off into the realms of obscurity.

And third, upgrading to the Pro version costs just $25 and opens up a world of plug-ins. These do everything from monitoring Gmail accounts for new messages to incorporating news headlines, stock quotes and weather forecasts into your buddy list. It also means that should a new protocol appear and sweep the board, a simple plug-in will let you incorporate it into your client without having to erase or upgrade your existing installation, protecting your $25 investment.

Of course, it isn’t perfect. MSN whiteboards are off the menu, as are games, but beyond that the basic edition can do all that a casual messenger user would need.

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