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Review: Google Pack

Google Pack is designed to be a single, easy-to-use package containing a dozen different desktop applications for personal productivity, communications, security, and just for fun. How well does it work?
Optional Software
Finally, there are several applications, both Google-branded and not, that are not automatically downloaded with the Pack — you have to click on "Add or remove software" on the main Google Pack page and choose to download these. These are probably set apart because they are considered a bit more specialized than the others.

Google Talk
Since Google is obviously planning to take the computing world away from Microsoft (or, at least, claim as much of it as it can), it has added to its repertoire a free instant messaging/VoIP app called Google Talk. One of those Google invitation-only applications (of which Gmail is another), Google Talk lets you chat — with text or voice — over the Internet with your fellow Googlites. It's a highly simple applet, with few of the bells and whistles that many of the established IM and/or VoIP services have. On the other hand, there aren't any intrusive ads to get in your way — at least, not yet.



Google Talk offers basic IM and VoIP services. (Click for full image.)

GalleryPlayer HD Images
Okay, this one I'm flummoxed about. This is simply a collection of 25 images. Pretty? Yes. Useful? No.

RealPlayer
While RealPlayer is a popular format among a lot of the media sources online, it tends to be unpopular among many users — it can be overly possessive about your system resources, and its advertising can be intrusive. That being said, if you want to be able to view online videos or listen to various Web radio stations, it's almost certain that you're going to have to install this sooner or later.



RealPlayer is used by many online services, despite its rather ad-ridden interface. (Click for full image.)

Trillian
I've got to admit — I am currently a Trillian user, and unlikely to switch in the near future. Trillian lets you access several IM services using a single interface, so that you can stay in contact with, say, your colleagues on AIM and your friends on MSN.



Trillian offers a better interface for your various IM services. (Click for full image.)

There are other advantages as well. While early versions of Trillian were handicapped by an awkward interface and problematic installs, the latest version has solved those problems. It now has a well-designed front end that can be tweaked easily by users to suit their individual needs — for example, you can decide what kind of alerts to set up for a number of events (what kind of sound do I want to hear when my boss comes online?). Oh, and there isn't any advertising — one reason I switched from AIM was that I was tired of having audio ads suddenly blasting in my ear.

Offhand, Trillian doesn't have a lot to do with Google — except that it is a free application that is as sophisticated as any for-pay software out there, and that its makers obviously pay attention to what their users need.


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Review: Improve The IM Experience