Trillian Astra instant messenger client is a fine piece of work.

It looks beautiful, works smoothly, and is one of the best ways to put a command centre on your desk – notifying you of new email, keeping track of contacts and hooking into all the best features of the main IM clients.

We've found that file transfers have a tendency to be slow, but we've never had a problem with regular chatting.

Upgrading offers a few bonus features. Activity History is probably the most useful, giving you a searchable XML-driven list of past communication rather than a simple text file. Others, like video filters or a choice of themes, are less essential.

You probably don't need to upgrade, but it's a single throwaway payment with some handy features.

There's a certain end of an era vibe from this release, if only because it's hard to imagine any company being able to spend this long working on a brand-new IM client in the future.

Still, the effort was more than worth it. Trillian Astra is excellent.

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