As more and more of everyday life becomes predicated on our connection to the digital world, the chances we will be targeted or vulnerable to cyber-attacks has also risen
Google Talk Beta
- Clutter-free, smooth integration with GMail, Extensive customization options, Simplicity
- Lacks advanced features, Needs improvement
If you rely on Gmail, and have built up a large address book, Google Talk lets you integrate text and voice messaging very easily. But if you want much more than that, look elsewhere. However, Google has the knack of improving beta software and coming up with winners, so watch this space.
Gloriously clutter-free, Google Talk's beta gives you text and voice messaging, smooth integration with Gmail, rudimentary customisation options... and that's about it. To try Google Talk you need an account with Gmail - or Google Mail as we are now supposed to refer to the webmail service. It's yet another potentially exciting service from the search giant that you can use in its beta form.
If you have an account, you can get rolling by inviting Gmail contacts of your choosing to download the free Google Talk app; these contacts are automatically moved into the program. Installing the IM (instant-messaging) application is quick and painless, and it starts up in just a few seconds. The first thing that struck us about Google Talk was its simplicity - a rare thing in the realm of IM applications. If you're used to working with a program that is laden with features and customisation options, you'll find Google Talk startlingly austere. It's truly bare-boned, with limited customisation settings.
Once we had Google Talk up and running, we actually warmed to the squeaky-clean environment. It's advert and pop-up free, includes lots of white space and contains no annoying clusters of icons to distract you from your messaging business. In fact, going from the likes of Yahoo Messenger to Google Talk is a bit like going from a noisy consumer electronics superstore to a quiet boutique up a side street.
We also liked being able to detach the messaging window from the contacts list and move both around. If you re-attach them by placing the messaging pane below the contacts window, the former automatically resizes itself to fit the latter's vertical profile.
If you leave Google Talk's Notifications settings at their default values, you'll receive an alert every time an email drops into your Gmail account. A small window pops up briefly, identifying the sender's name and the subject line. That's handy if you want to keep an eye out for something in particular. But if you get dozens of emails every hour you may want to turn off those signals.
In our voice chat tests, call quality sounded impressive - initially. Despite a faint hum in the background, our editor's voice and mine sounded crisp, and our sentences stayed intact. But further into the conversation things went downhill: it sounded as though we were both talking on mobile phones in a car wash. The slushing sound became so distracting that we simply hung up.
You might consider Google Talk somewhat exclusive, since you need to be part of the Gmail club to get it. But it's not a closed circuit; the Google Talk network is compatible with the XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), which lets you send IMs to other XMPP-compliant programs, such as Gaim, Jabber and iChat. Your buddies will need to have Gmail and configure their IM program to work accordingly.
Perhaps the most glaring omission - given that this comes from Google, whose mission is 'to organise the world's information' - is the fact that the text IM messages are not logged, stored or indexed. So the only IM service that Google's desktop search can't index is Google's own. Not everyone searches their logs, but those of us that do will avoid Google Talk for instant messaging until this is put right.
The number of options is very small compared with open-source clients such as Gaim, or with Yahoo, Skype and AIM (or even MSN Messenger). It doesn't do video, it doesn't share images, it doesn't do voicemail. It doesn't offer encryption. It only does voice if you use the Google Talk client, which runs only on Windows - so there is no mobile Google Talk at present. That said, all is not lost on the video side. Google Talkers yearning for this feature can try a plug-in called Festoon by Santa Cruz Networks.
Editors Note: As of February 2006, Google launched Gmail Chat, which provides the functionality of Google Talk from your email interface. Using this application, it is possible to save and store conversations. In order to make voice calls however, you will still have to download Google Talk.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 ASUS FX503 review: An ROG Notebook By Any Other Name
- 2 HP Envy x360 (Ryzen 5) review: Power over portability
- 3 Oppo A73 review: The budget smartphone that sets the bar for 2018
- 4 Oppo R11s review: The iClone you know and love, but not quite the one you deserve
- 5 Blackberry KEYone Black Edition review: What the original KEYone should have been
Latest News Articles
- JBL take smart speakers back to the living room Link 300
- Sonos say Aussie Alexa support for One smart speaker won't arrive until Autumn 2018
- Transport for NSW boosts digital experience with Amazon Alexa
- Irdeto Acquires Denuvo
- Businesses jump on Amazon’s Alexa after Australian launch date revealed
PCW Evaluation Team
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
- Picture Perfect: OPPO prepare their boldest smartphone yet
- Gigabyte AERO 15: Full, in-depth review
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: A predictably-exellent flagship uplifted by a standout camera
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- TPSystems AnalystVIC
- TPSharepoint DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Test AnalystWA
- FTProject Coordinator l PMONSW
- FTOnboarding Specialist / Service Design - ITIL | ServiceNowOther
- FTEngagement Specialist (Information Management/Land Access)Other
- TPSenior Business AnalystNSW
- TPSpecialist TechnicianVIC
- CCProgram DirectorNSW
- FTFrontend Developer/Digital DesignerNSW
- FTData AnalystOther
- CCMid Level, Project Manager, Sydney CBD, 12 month contractNSW
- FTXamarin DeveloperOther
- FTBusiness Analyst - Multiple RolesACT
- FTNetwork EngineerVIC
- FTMultiple Solution Architect PositionsACT
- FTProject ManagerOther
- FTSAP Ariba Project ManagerOther
- FTIntegration Analyst - Axway/APIVIC
- FTIncident ManagerSA
- FTSenior Software EngineerOther
- FTOnboarding Specialist (ServiceNow) - TelecommunicationsOther
- CCSenior Solution ArchitectQLD
- FTSAP HCM Functional Analyst, Organisation StructureOther