ICQ 5.04 review: ICQ 5.04

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The Good Quick installation; easy to use; unobtrusive; free voice and video calling; calls landline phones for a fee; spam control; easy to find buddies; supports more than 20 languages.

The Bad Lacks drag-and-drop file sharing; includes advertising.

The Bottom Line Easy, free services make ICQ 5.04 a fine choice for voice, keyboard, or Webcam chats, but MSN Messenger 7.0 and Yahoo Messenger 7.0 offer more features.

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6.7 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 6
  • Support 7

Review Sections

ICQ 5.04

ICQ 5.04 is a good IM client for home and light business use. This straightforward instant messenger (the acronym stands for "I seek you") offers a quick download and easy installation. You have to deal with modest advertising, but ICQ is less intrusive than MSN Messenger 7.0. Although the default ICQ interface is a bland mix of pastels, such simplicity understates its capabilities, such as integrated PC-to-PC voice calling. A suite of extra features (dubbed Xtraz) offers customizations, full screen games, and free enhanced communication tools, including voice chat, video messaging, and a virtual walkie-talkie. Do you copy?

The light, 4.07MB download of ICQ 5.04 takes less than a minute via broadband. Once you run the equally fast installer, you can use ICQ immediately. Where some IM clients, such as MSN Messenger 7.0, change home pages and default search engines, ICQ 5.04 leaves your favorite system settings alone. ICQ attempts to add a toolbar to your Web browser, but you can uncheck a box to prevent that.

After installation, you must enter your ICQ number or register for a new one. Privacy pundits will appreciate how little personal information ICQ requires: enter a nickname, a password, and an e-mail address, and you're set. You can also block your vital stats from ICQ's directories. Our only glitch came when a firewall blocked ICQ registration, but a quick reboot and relaunch cleared that up.

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