For years, IRCle was the Mac's best Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client, but these days it's showing its age. The Mac needs a new IRC champion, and despite a few rough edges that should be cleared up with its next update, Linkinus 2 could now claim that title.

Linkinus 2 boasts over 100 new features. There's over 330 built-in networks to chat on, and you can, of course, add your own.

When connecting to a large IRC network it cycles through its servers until it establishes a connection, an excellent touch that saves much frustration. It supports emoticons, embedded media and filters to ignore disruptive chatters.

Recorded logs are intelligently organised for later review, and your Buddy List integrates with Address Book and Mail. You can display more than one chat channel in the main window, greying out the ones with which you're not currently interacting. It's up to 10 times faster than the last release too, and feels smooth in operation.

A few tweaks and polishes are needed before Linkinus 2 can reach its full potential. Managing your on-screen identities is a little clunky, and its window space could be better used in a few areas. There's too much inefficient duplication of function, with buttons offering what can quite easily be accessed through contextual or pull-down menus.

Even so, it's the Mac's strongest IRC client to date, combining Colloquy's ease of use with X-Chat Aqua's range of features. Unlike its rivals, Linkinus isn't free, but it's worth paying for.

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