Search Scientist guest writer PJ Hart reviews: Digsby
The idea of integrating a whole range of instant messenger services in to one piece of software is certainly not new; just ask the good people at Trillian. Of course, something doesn’t have to be novel to be useful, and with wildly popular sites such as Gmail and Facebook offering rival in-browser IM clients, maybe the integrated IM client has finally come of age.
The Digsby demo video (below) is of course quick to point out that IM integration is not the only trick in their pony. Users can expect to have their email, Facebook account, Twitter feed and LinkdIn profile at their finger-tips as well.
Okay. So that’s what Digsby does. Is it any good? Well, that depends.
Is Digsby good for hosting multiple Instant Message (IM) accounts?
The IM integration is genuinely good. Freeing my Google Chat contacts from the confines of Gmail, or iGoogle really, is refreshing. Ditto for Facebook. The message interface itself is an improvement on both browser-based services. Digsby contains a number of conversations in one tabbed window, reducing desktop clutter, and even lets you reply to an IM straight from the small notification that appears at the bottom of the screen. The interface itself is standard IM client fare. Any former users of MSN, AIM or Yahoo! Messenger will be right at home.
How does Digsby manage with email alerts?
Having access to a number of email accounts straight from the Digsby sidebar is also refreshing. Keeping an eye on the emails I receive to three different accounts allows me to delete or mark as read the messages I know aren’t a top priority as and when they arrive. To open or compose a new mail, Digsby takes me straight to a browser tab for that email account without any additional log-in required. Integrating an email account with an IM account is nothing revolutionary, but being constantly logged in to multiple accounts really does save time.
Does Digsby make you more reactive to Facebook notices, encouraging you to respond more?
Facebook access is handled in much the same way as email. The newsfeed springs forth from the Digsby sidebar and allows you to comment on, like or unlike the items you find therein. Anything beyond that, like visiting profile pages or watching videos, requires a trip to the Facebook website. For keeping a casual eye on Facebook while you’re in the process of doing something a bit more productive, Digsby works fine. Digsby certainly leads me to be more aware of what people are posting on Facebook and I find I respond and comment more often on friend’s posts than previously. Perhaps if more people used Digsby there’d be an increase in Facebook posting activity. This could be something worth testing. Let us know what you think.
Is Twitter a Digsby downfall?
Twitter, on the other hand, is not served quite as well. The interface is similar to the one used for Facebook, though you can open your Twitter feed in a seperate Digsby window if you so choose. This would actually be no problem at all, except that there seems to be no support for lists. As anyone who follows more than a handful of Twitterers knows, lists are an essential way of seeing exactly what tweets you want to see. There’s no shortage of Twitter apps out there, and Digsby can’t really compete on that front. It is possible to use Digsby to update Facebook and Twitter with the same status, but it certainly isn’t the only program with that functionality.
In general, the services offered by Digsby don’t quite live up to the service provided by the websites it distils. If you are sitting down at your computer specifically intending on checking your email, Facebook and Twitter then I recommend visiting the websites in a tabbed browser. If you want to keep an eye on these sites and their associated IM services while you do something else, like writing a review for example, then I recommend using Digsby. More and more people seem to be using Digsby now, so we’re keen to hear your opinions.
What do you think?
Have you tried Digsby? Do your friends use it? After reading this, would you try Digsby?
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