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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review: Mundu IM v.4 for Palm

Review: Mundu IM v.4 for Palm OS
Developer: Geodesic
Platform: Palm
Device: Sprint Treo 700P

Geodesic's Mundu IM mobile messaging client is fast becoming one of my favorite Palm Treo apps to date. Since the demise of Verichat, I've been hunting around for a Palm based IM client to fill the void.

Mundu IM allows messaging accross all of the major IM services including ICQ, Jabber, Google Talk, MSN, and Yahoo. The cross conferencing feature of Mundu is unique, innovative, and quite useful (more on this later). The one feature that is not available in this release is the ability to sign on to two IM accounts on the same service - a feature found in Mantra Group's Causerie, which I've used with mixed results.

Mundu's chat interface is squeaky clean and a pleasure to use and work in. Your chats open up in a separate tab from your main contacts window. A small talk bubble starts to flash on the tab when you've received a new message, and the main Contacts tab is nicely organized. The views in your buddy list window can be customized various different ways to get the view you prefer (i.e. less clutter).

On five way navigation: The Treo 700P's five-way nav pad works as it should in the main chat window. It gets a bit tricky when you try to navigate through the different menu's, though. At times, I've had to bring out the stylus to scroll down to the various selections.

On speed: I tested this by having one of my AOL IM accounts open on my desktop PC, and another open on my Treo. The delay to either chat window was less than a second either way. No problem here.

On background performance: Various alerts can be set when the app is running in the background to alert you to incoming chats. These include vibration, sound, and pop up windows. They do not, on the other hand, light up the screen or flash the Treo's signal meter when the device is in sleep mode, so you won't notice a chat has come in unless you've got the volume up on your sound alert. I hope this changes in an upcoming release.

On opening and closing the app: I can do without the splash screen that shows up when Mundu is started. This delays opening the app by about 2 to 3 seconds. Exiting the app is fast, unlike Causerie which took about 13 to 15 seconds to close on exit (!!!).

On battery drain: Ok, no doubt this app will suck out your battery power if you have email open, the browser running, and you're talking on the phone with a bluetooth headset all at once, which I've done. It took about 3 hours of doing this before the battery was dead on a 70% charge. From what I can tell, it is easier on the battery than Causerie was, which is a significant improvement.

On chatting with your buddies: Something Causerie has over Mundu is the ability to assign your contacts an alias name so you can easily identify them in your chat window- a useful feature when you've got +40 buddies. This was nearly a killer for me. The chat window is a bit small, and I found myself scrolling the chat window more often than not to look back at the chat history during a busy conversation. There is an option to turn the tool bars off and on, which helps expand the chat window a little.

On conferencing with your buddies: I have two words to describe this handy feature- simply cool. I had an incident recently when I needed to conference in to friends on my chat to talk about a local music venue we were researching. I fired up the conference window, sent the invites, and all were joined and chatting in a few seconds- right on my Treo. It all worked flawlessly- I bought the software the second the chat was over.

The price? A one time fee of ONLY $11.00 with no recurring charges. Upgrades and minor bug fixes are free for the lifetime of the product until the next major release, and there is a 5-day fully functioning trial period.

Pros: Clean interface, multiple IM service support and logins, conferencing, tabbed chat window, customizable buddy list, sound/pop-up/vibration alerts, incoming chat indicators, file transfers, chat history, inexpensive

Cons: Unable to assign alias to buddies, battery drain is noticeable, small chat window (with toolbar unhidden), "MunduIM" logo in upper left takes up valuable screen real estate, alerts can remain hidden when Treo is in sleep mode

Recommended? Yes, but get yourself an extra Treo battery.

Check out Mundu IM here.

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Anonymous Liz said...

I completely agree with this post. I love Mundu. It does 90% of what I need it to do and works flawlessly. I think, though, that I feel more strongly than you about the battery drain. That's really frustrating! But I think fixing that will require a whole Mundu overhaul considering it's a data app. But for the price and what it does, it's a must-have.

11:32 PM


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