Yesterday I spent the whole day using Meebo, another web-based IM system. I was very impressed with Meebo, but there were a few things I didn't like. Let's start with the basics.
Meebo offers the ability to chat with friends on AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, and Jabber accounts. It also allows you to sign into a Meebo account, for remembering settings and for chatting with friends also on Meebo. Meebo also offers some cool add-on services, like a Firefox sidebar so you can chat from any page (though to use that you still need to leave the Meebo page open in a separate tab or window). They also have chat widgets you can place on your website or blog to allow people to chat with you instantly without giving away any personal information. Pretty slick.
But how did it measure up as an IM program? I liked it. Its interface was clearly designed to simulate the desktop environment, just like imo.im. The chat box is on the right side of the page and your IM windows open separately and can be moved around the page. To start a conversation, you just double click on a buddy's name in the list.
My biggest problem with Meebo was that it was slow. Very slow. Double clicking to start a conversation had a delay of a few seconds before the box would open (and I'm on a very fast connection). This alone was enough to make me not use the service again.
It also had an annoying habit of highlighting everything on the page whenever I navigated back to it. I'd have to click somewhere to make the highlighting go away. Annoying.
It understood smiley faces, which was nice, and had sounds loud enough to get my attention. It also changed the name of the window/tab whenever someone tried to talk to me. It did a much better job of getting my attention that imo.im did.
Video chat worked pretty good, no complaints. I'm still a little confused about why so many people want video chatting, but it's there if you want it.
Meebo also has an open application development platform, where developers can create applications/widgets that can be used and shared between contacts. A very cool idea that I look forward to seeing more from.
Overall, I liked Meebo. If I were on a friend's computer or school computer, I'd definitely consider using it for quickly and easily chatting with friends...or maybe not so quickly. :-)
Today I'm using ebuddy.com for my chatting. I'll report back on how I like it at the end of the day. Until then...