RadiusIM relies on location-based features to differentiate it from other web-based instant-messaging services. It offers access to key IM services such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger and Google Talk, and it lets you search for other RadiusIM users based on their location.

RadiusIM can't yet be all that popular in the UK, as it failed to find any fellow surfers for us in deepest, darkest, er, central London. But stick with RadiusIM, as it could be a winner.

But before you can use RadiusIM, you have to register. Although the process isn't onerous (you must supply an email address, a birth date, a post code and your country), it does make the service slower to use the first time than some competitors.

After completing the initial RadiusIM registration, you can choose to have RadiusIM connect you to your IM accounts automatically when you log in.

Like Meebo, RadiusIM has a nice, clean, ad-free web interface. Your buddy list appears in a window on the right side of the RadiusIM page.

Although you can move the window anywhere within the RadiusIM web page, you can't undock it from the page. You can log on to any number of the services that RadiusIM supports at one time.

Options include AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN and Yahoo. RadiusIM groups your buddy list according to each service, which simplifies navigation.

Messages appear in pop-up windows on the page and can't be undocked, which might frustrate some RadiusIM users. You get a time-stamp on messages, but the service doesn't provide a typing indicator to let you know whether your contacts are responding to your messages. (RadiusIM plans to add this feature in a future release.)

RadiusIM - make friends instantly

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

With RadiusIM you can elect to be notified via an audio alert when messages arrive, or you can download a desktop notifier that sits in your system tray and flashes when a message reaches you. The RadiusIM pop-up message window also flashes when a message comes, but this can be difficult to see if you've minimised the window to work on something else.

With RadiusIM you can add and delete buddies from your buddy lists, and you can create customised away messages that are automatically saved for future use.

The location-based services unique to RadiusIM constitute something of a mixed bag and are available for use only with other registered RadiusIM users.

When you log on, you can see how many users are in the vicinity. The idea is to let you locate friends so that you can meet with them in person if they're nearby. A map window highlights your approximate location - RadiusIM says that locations are blurred within 0.25 mile of the actual location for safety - and you can see photos or icons of other local users.

Sadly, we were all alone in London town when we used RadiusIM in this way. But the location-based service would have been really useful if RadiusIM had a greater number of registered users, and some of those users were our friends. RadiusIM let's you send an IM to your friends on other instant-messaging services asking them to join up. It may just catch on.

Also, because RadiusIM sets your location based on the post code you entered at registration, if you use the service from somewhere else, you'll have to change your location manually at that time. And it's a pain to do so. For some reason RadiusIM thought we were in north Yorkshire (we wish), and the only way to migrate to London was via many mouse clicks (Dick Whittington would have struggled).

RadiusIM - make friends instantly

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

RadiusIM: Specs

  • Web connection
  • MSN, AIM/ICQ, Yahoo or GTalk/Jabber log-in
  • registration required
  • Web connection
  • MSN, AIM/ICQ, Yahoo or GTalk/Jabber log-in
  • registration required

OUR VERDICT

If you want to make new friends in your area (and you're willing to accept the security risks that accompany meeting people online), RadiusIM shows promise. But until more people use the service, its location-based features have limited utility. And despite its clean interface and relative ease of use, RadiusIM's registration process - brief though it is - may hold you back.

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