Goodbye Digsby, Hello Trillian Astra?


Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been having some problems with Digsby since I switched to it from Pidgin. It’s mostly the issue with file transfers and the lack of group chat. But it seems problems with Digsby go further than that with sneaky resource stealing and bunch of bundled software that does nothing but bog your system down. This rant on Lifehacker details the goings-on behind Digsby.

Another article that caught my eye was the recent Hive Five for Best Instant Messenger. It seems Trillian has returned from the dead and became the crowd favourite with its latest incarnation, Astra. Astra, while still being in beta, boasts more than 400 features. I downloaded it and gave it a try and must say it’s going good so far.

Astra seems to provide everything Digsby was providing and more. It brought back some of the stuff I miss like starting a mass chat or knowing who’s in one when I’m invited into one, updating my status with music I’m currently listening to, etc. One feature missing from both Digsby and Astra is the auto-sending of image in clipboard when you attempt to paste it in the chat window. I’ve used it back on MSN Messenger but I’ve gotten why I needed that.

The only feature of Digsby I use which is not provided in Astra is the combining of multiple contacts into a single handle. (Cleared up by ju, thanks.) When you first install Astra, you are given a 30 day free trial of the Pro version which has a bunch of nifty features but mostly related to video chatting. The only feature I’d miss from it is the proper XML formatted chat history. The free version will retain a plain text chat log.

For those interested in numbers, these are the memory usage fees from Task Manager. Both were taken when the clients were newly launched and connected to the same number of protocols. I did disable some of the fancy translucent effects on Astra as well as the research module on Digsby.

chat mem

While I understand why Digsby needs some kind of revenue model, some people out there are pretty angsty about who and how their computer system resources and bandwidth is being utilised. I’ve personally kept the research module running while I’ve been running Digsby as I know the devs gotta feed themselves somehow. They recently released a blog entry to clear the air. With so many IMs out there, I guess it really comes down to whatever works for you. If MSN Messenger or Windows Live Messenger, as it’s known now, suits your needs then use it. If you need multi-client support, there’s Pidgin, Digsby and Trillian Astra. I think being spoilt for choice is a good “problem” as users will get more choices as developers continue to make better programs.