What IRC client to you use?

Over the years, many ways of communicating surged over the internet, the first ones were IRC and e-mail, and then a fleet of Messengers appeared from nowhere a few years after. Some of those became popular, some faded out of fame and some strive. But IRC never seemed to fade away and is still widely used and very popular.

I was however surprised that I couldn’t find a good enough “eye-candy” client that suited my needs. mIRC is 10 years old and when you look at it it still looks primitive, surely there must be a client that fits my needs somewhere.

Here’s my idea of what the perfect client should have:

  • Themes
  • Scripts (advanced but also a novice way of doing them)
  • Customizable Interface (and I don’t mean just hide and show things)
  • Smiley Replacement (preferably PNGs)
  • Eye-Candy (I’m willing to pay some memory)
  • Support for different Charsets

I’m aware that Gaim, Trillian, Miranda and the like all have IRC plugins which in some cases fill most of my suggestions for the perfect client but most of them fail scripting and customizing-wise and I’d prefer something standalone than a jack of all trades (unless it’s exceptional of course).

Here are my reviews of the clients I’ve used or tried over the years from 1 to 5 asterisks:

mIRC (****) – It was the first; many claim it’s the best and it is what started IRC for common users, there’s an almost infinite array of plugins, scripts and stuff for it. It fails miserably on the eye-candy.

XChat (***) – Has a slightly nicer interface in my opinion and is simpler options-wise.

Chatzilla (****) – Has a very nice Main Window, with PNG smileys, has themes, has charset support (even though it wasn’t in the options and I had to do it with a command) but scripting wise I haven’t given it a go yet. But it’s lacking a lot of options and you can’t change the interface very much. It’s main flaw is not being independent from FireFox, but only a Plugin (you can’t install new plugins or themes without closing it down also)

Basically I wish there was something to unite a little bit of those three. mIRC has all the options you can think of and changes the interface pretty well, XChat is simple but a bit limited, Chatzilla is not FireFox independent.

What do you suggest?

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