REVIEW: A Quick Test of Three Alternative IRC Clients

It was about half a year ago that I’ve published the Roundup of IRC Applications for the Pocket PC (a slight, WM5-related update to the article can be found here and a review of the new, 2.2 version of wmIRC here).

In the meantime, I’ve also checked out the three other, not-that-known clients. In here, I present a review of them. I've run the tests on my WM5-upgraded VGA HP iPAQ hx4700 to find out the WM5 and VGA compliance of the applications. Please note that this review is not a full review of the clients; please consult the Roundup of IRC Applications for the Pocket PC for an explanation of the keywords (for example, DCC) I'm using in here.

(Executive) summary

The three clients reviewed here are not really worth checking out. Stick to either the already-reviewed wmIRC or PocketIRC. I’ve only managed to find one “kick-butt†application, feature-wise (IrcCE), but that’s only for the Handheld PC – its Pocket PC version is definitely inferior to the “big†brother.

If you still want to know what these clients are capable of, read on!

SmartIrc.net 1.14 by Kim Nyberg

A free, Compact Framework-based IRC application. One of its strengths is the ability to store different IRC server names and basic settings (nickname, username etc) as can be seen in here – this is, unfortunately, not very common with other clients.

Commands don’t start with slashes but with a , character; private messages must be prefixed with a dot (.) and /me actions also have a specific @ format. Not sticking to the widely accepted rules (that is, introducing a lot of new stuff to learn) is a definite letdown in this app – even if these changes indeed result in the need for less typing.

Messages are meant to use different, configurable colors. Otherwise, the client does not support any kind of text coloring, not even the standard underling/highlight/bold codes as can be seen in this screenshot.

Otherwise, it’s a pretty weak client. For example, there is absolutely no real help (see this screenshot), there is absolutely no support for command history, DCC, logging, text highlighting/copying, and, as has already been pointed out, there’s no color / text highlight support, as opposed to most other clients. Not recommended – even some free Midlet-based clients are better in many respects.

Some additional screenshots: main menu; configuration dialog.

IrcCE 2.00.02p by mov Software Corporation

This application is unique in that it supports all WindowsCE versions; even WinCE 1.0 H/PC’s. It's priced at $14.95 (as opposed to the two other reviewed IRC clients.)

Screenshots: the Connect menu; the View Menu; the server setup dialog.

This client doesn’t support colors/text highlight codes either. As with SmartIrc.net 1.14, it’s really restricted – doesn’t support DCC, logging, text copying, command history either. Not recommended.

Interestingly, it’s only the Pocket PC version that is severely crippled. The H/PC version (I've tested the H/PC 2000 version on my Jornada 720; setup screenshot here), as opposed to the Pocket PC version, supports logging and DCC chat/send/receive.

ProChat 0.7beta by Proporta Web Solutions

This no longer developed/supported and, consequently, now, free (it’s listed as free on their page; I’m still awaiting response to my “purchaseâ€) IRC client is probably the best of the three reviewed clients here. This, however, doesn't mean it's worth using - only give it a try if you need a free IRC client. Otherwise, go for either wmIRC or PocketIRC.

There is nothing special about the client: no DCC, no logging, no text highlight/copy, no color codes, not even standard IRC commands. It supports channel name download; it has passed the EFNet test, which is a definite plus, taken into account that no other Pocket PC clients were capable of this feat in my real-world tests.

Screenshots: setup-1, setup-2.

Recommended links

The Roundup of IRC Applications for the Pocket PC

If you speak Russian, there is a nice quick review here of four IRC clients (Babelfish “translation†here). Note that mChat reviewed in the comment section isn’t IRC-compliant - it's “only†a Jabber and ICQ client.

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