Kool IM is a solid web-based instant-messaging client with no fancy trappings. Its reliable performance and nice choice of services make this alpha version well worth a look.

Kool IM's home page offers direct links to the most popular IM services. You can easily sign on to AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and ICQ using your existing screen names and passwords.

Kool IM also connects to Jabber and Sametime, but doesn't link to these services from the home page. You can sign on to multiple services at once, and you can choose between an embedded and a pop-up version of Kool IM. The embedded version shows your buddy list and messages as windows tied to a web page, while the pop-up version displays them as pop-up windows that you can move around your screen.

Although its interface is relatively clean, Kool IM includes more adverts on its home page and in its message windows than many competing services do on theirs. The adverts on the home page don't intrude on the information presented there, however. The ads in the messages are text-based and occupy a box at the bottom of the window. In addition, when you send your first message, Kool IM notifies your recipient that you're using its service.

Once you get connected, the buddy list displays in the pop-up version and in the embedded version look very similar. If you connect to more than one IM service, you'll see your buddies grouped according to service. You can choose to display all of your buddies or just the ones who are online.

You can also add and delete buddies from your list, or log in to a service that you are not currently connected to. One nice touch: if your buddy has set an away message, you can see the text in your buddy list window without having to mouse over the contact's name or right-click to get the info.

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Kool IM does lack a few features that other services offer. There is no typing indicator or time stamp on messages. You can't set an away message, nor can you save conversations or chat logs. And the service lacks any notification - audio or visual - about new messages. Unless you keep your eyes trained on the Kool IM message window, you're likely to miss a new message when it arrives.

Kool IM can do a more-than-adequate job of filling in for your IM client when you're away from your desk. Its lack of audio notification when a message arrives and its limited customisation tools may limit its appeal as a full-time replacement for your desktop software, though.

Web-based IM service reviews: Meebo, Kool IM, Imhaha, RadiusIM

Kool IM: Specs

  • Web connection
  • AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber log-in
  • Web connection
  • AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber log-in

OUR VERDICT

A useful way of keeping up with your instant messaging accounts when you're away from your usual PC, Kool IM is easy to use and free of charge. You may find it limiting to use all the time, but the fact that several clients can be supported at the same time makes Kool IM well worth a look.

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