Digsby, whatta great piece of code to end this week! Really, I know I shouldn’t start any review with such enthusiasm, but I just can’t overlook the great mood I’m in just because I am rediscovering this excellent program. Since our first contact a few years ago, Digsby grew up a lot, and if I already loved it back in its early days, you can imagine what I feel about it now, even though I just launched it and added my accounts… but let’s approach this as usual, one piece at a time, shall we?
When it comes to Digsby’s version numbers, I must admit things are pretty confusing. In theory, what I should have here is build 87, release 29291. On the other hand, the About window only says “Digsby – Build 29291″ so… we’ll just stick to “Digsby” and nothing more, all right?
After all, things that really matter, such as compatibility with various operating systems, are less confusing than the version number – unlike some of its competitors Digsby works with Windows, with Linux and Mac OS X to follow really soon. Well, it’s not that I see too many programs that are able to compete with Digsby shoulder-to-shoulder, it was just a way of saying…
… and when we move to the last part of this section, bad things start to join our review: while freely available, Digsby is full of ads and ad-like components – it offers to change your homepage, download/install various programs you don’t really need (Advanced Registry Optimizer, Digsby Donates, Babylon…) and, worst of it all, it displays ads while running, becoming almost as annoying as Yahoo! Messenger.
The setup package has about 19.4 MB in size and, as I was just saying, a lot of useless things are packed inside it. I surely know a few people who won’t even bother installing such a program, no matter how good and useful it’s supposed to be. Even if I speak for myself, I’d rather pay a monthly fee or a lifetime license instead of having to face such a high amount of junk in a free program…
With some main application skins and conversation window themes available, Digsby is a pleasure to customize, although there aren’t that many options to choose from. Overall, the application looks pretty good and easy to use – you even get widgets, but there’s no offline documentation or multilanguage support coming with it. Pretty sad, if you ask me, so we can’t say Digsby’s looks will blow your mind. Fortunately, most people shouldn’t get headaches, either… so let’s move to the features, shall we?
If you’re new to Digsby, I guess you’re still wondering what’s so special about it, so I’ll start this part by saying that this piece of code is a single application that can replace a bunch of messaging clients or Web-based services, since it allows its users to easily connect to Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, AOL/AIM, Gmail/Google Talk, MySpace, LinkedIn, ICQ, Jabber and POP/IMAP accounts. Really impressive, don’t you think?
Since there’s no need to tell you how natural it feels to talk with all your contacts without bothering to figure out if you’re doing it on Facebook, Yahoo! or Google Talk, I’ll go straight to one of the things that really make Digsby worth your time and I even dare to say that all bad parts of this program can’t touch its awesomeness: email alerts! Sure, there’s nothing that special about a popup that says you got a bunch of emails, but Digsby also allows you to delete messages or mark them as spam without having to open your inbox in a Web browser! The only thing I don’t like about this feature is lack of an internal browser/email client; the way things are now, every time you want to open a message, you have to do it via the default Web browser on your system…
… but don’t be sad: what do you think about merging accounts to get rid of duplicate buddies or sending SMS messages from the IM window? Unfortunately, this doesn’t work like a charm – I know it may have something to do with my Yahoo! settings, but I won’t bother to dig deeper. After all, there’s no such program that allows you to send free SMS messages right out of the box, at least as far as I know.
A really nice feature that should be simply called “Game mode” and made easier to access allows you to leave Digsby in the background and stop receiving alerts when you’re running full screen applications. Obviously, the main two categories I can think of here are games and full screen media players – no need to tell you how annoying can be to see alerts showing up when you shoot other people online or enjoy a movie, right?
I know I mentioned the widgets earlier, but here you have a few extra words on this topic: you can easily place Digsby widgets on your blog or social network profile and chat with visitors right from the program itself. If that doesn’t sound good enough, here’s some extra stuff: what about being able to completely synchronize stuff between computers and installations or manage multiple simultaneous file transfers with the help of a single, easy to use transfer manager?
Obviously, all the above is barely the beginning, but I’ll stop here. Just like shaworma or Chinese food, Digsby is something to taste, not read about, so we’ll move to the final parts of this review now. Ready or not, here you have a few…
Tips & Tricks
1. By default, Digsby’s sound alerts and notifications are enabled. You may want to take a closer look at those settings, especially the “Game mode” I mentioned earlier – just open the Preferences window and go to Status!
2. In theory, old versions of Windows like Windows 98 are supported. In practice, most computers still running such ancient pieces of code are too slow for Digsby – do yourself a favor and don’t ruin your day by trying to run Digsby on some 500 MHz, 256 MB of memory machine from the early 2000s… or something even slower!
3. If you’re used with the idea that popups are useless, you may want to change that – Digsby’s popups allow you to answer messages without opening the main application!
Digsby is free, works well enough on all popular operating systems of the moment (well, Android is not yet supported, but we’re talking about computers here, not portable devices), offers support for most popular IM/social networking services and using it should be really easy for most computer users.
It’s really sad to see this happening, but Digsby is full of ads and “junkware,” despite the fact that you can avoid most of it by choosing the right options when asked. Worst of all, I don’t think that seeing it use over 70 MB of RAM and about 120 MB of swap space on my Windows XP computer gives me the courage to install it on the Linux computer I plan to build for my parents (if that version arrives in time for that, of course)…
… and let’s not forget that most users like their IM clients to look really cool – Trillian got there a few years ago. Digsby still doesn’t have enough skins/themes available to make it a serious competitor to that one (I know we’re talking about a commercial product versus a free one, but still…).
Considering all its weak points, Digsby shouldn’t get even the shadow of a Download3000 Pick badge, but it does. No, they didn’t pay me to do this – I simply feel that, when it comes to features and OS support (“already there but not quite there yet”), Digsby is the best thing you can get for now, and that’s what really matters, after all.
As my final words, you won’t get any conclusion, but a question: why do you think Digsby deserves the five stars – or not? I’ll be waiting for your answers!