iChat AV Beta
With iChat AV Beta, Apple brings one-step video and audio to its still-new instant-messaging tool. In beta form, iChat's performance is spotty, but it's easier to use and configure than the video-enabled <A href="http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/review/41/1/4803.html">MSN Messenger 6.0 public beta</A> and better implemented than the video chat in Yahoo Messenger (both are for Windows only). iChat AV is a pleasure to use while it's free, but Apple plans to charge $29 for it when the current beta expires on December 31 2003 (UK pricing TBA), unless you upgrade to the £99 (inc. VAT) OS X 10.3 Panther. Using it also requires either a free AOL Instant Messenger account; a free, iChat-only .Mac screen name; or a £69 per-year .Mac account. Toss in Apple's new £119 (inc. VAT) iSight FireWire camera (which isn't specifically required, although some brand of FireWire cam is), and iChat AV is starting to look like an expensive corporate tool.