Hotline Client vs iPoke Client
Posted: 22-Feb-2001

Hotline Client:

Type: FREEWARE

iPoke:

Class: INTERNET
     
Reviewer: Kent Schwarz Download
For those of you not familiar with Hotline, Hotline is a set of communications applications allowing the setup of servers and clients. Clients, using Hotline Client or iPOKE, access the servers as guests or as registered users with login names, passwords and privileges assigned by the Hotline Server Administrator. Hotline Client is similar to AOL instant messenger in that you can chat or send instant messages to other users logged into the same server. News messages can also be posted on a news bulletin board. The real beauty of Hotline, and iPOKE, is that files can be uploaded to, and downloaded from, the Hotline server. Files in the server exist in a Mac like file structure arranged in folders. Using Hotline Client is as easy as downloading the software, unstuffing it, opening the application and then logging in. Of course you must be connected to the internet through your regular ISP.

To login you choose connect from the Hotline pull-down menu, enter a server name, enter a login name, enter a password and then click on the connect button (leave the last two blank to log in as a guest). As an example you could try the server
avalon.eyep.net, and login as guest by leaving the ID and the password blank. Then start exploring!

Hotline Client currently is available as version 1.8.4. This version is available for free from
http://www.bigredh.com/. Hotline 1.8.4 generates its revenue by continuously displaying banners above its floating tool pallet while you are using it. For some experienced Hotline fanatics this may be an intolerable intrusion into their privacy.

Hotline versions previous to 1.8 are shareware requiring registration without banners and therefore are considered less intrusive. Hotline 1.8.4 has other features that make it better than the older versions such as news with topics arranged in List, Pane or Tree folder format. Hotline 1.2.3 and iPOKE have the news posted as a continuous text file in List format only. In all versions of Hotline, a user picks an icon from within Hotline's option menu. Hotline 1.8.4 has 567 icons to chose from versus 28 icons for iPOKE and Hotline 1.2.3. Hotline 1.8.4 has more settings in the options menu such as "Refuse Chat", "Refuse Private Messages", "Automatic Response" to answer for you when people send messages.

In actual use, Hotline 1.8.4 downloaded a 238k file in 1 min 27 seconds on my 56K modem. Uploading a 94k file took 33 seconds. Hotline 1.8.4 was stable over the time that I used it on my G4. A quick check in "About This Computer" shows that Hotline 1.8.4 uses 5.5 MB of ram and only 1.9 MB of disk space.

IPOKE Client is a Hotline Client Clone that uses the code from Hotline Client version 1.2.x, but adds more color and rearranges the menus and windows. IPOKE, like Hotline 1.2.3, cannot access the news on Hotline 1.8 servers. Unlike Hotline 1.8.4, iPOKE and Hotline 1.2.3 are shareware so they nag you to register on a regular basis. Most of the other differences between iPOKE and Hotline 1.2.3 are purely cosmetic. Menus like Connect, Online Users, Tasks, Chat, Files, etc., are identical to Hotline 1.2.3 except that they have added color. The iPOKE Toolbar looks much different, but the buttons give the same results.

In use, iPOKE is identical to Hotline 1.2.3. Uploading and downloading is identical. I downloaded a 238k file in 1 min 25 seconds on my 56K modem using both clients. Uploading a 94k file took 35 seconds on each client. Both clients were stable over the entire time that I used them on my G4. Hotline 1.2.3 ties up 744 KB of ram while iPOKE uses 1.3 MB of ram. They both take up only 1.2 MB of disk space. The Hotline 1.2.3 I tested was the PPC version. There is also a 68K version available (not true with Hotline 1.8.4). I was unable to test if iPoke works on 68K Macs.

The cost of iPOKE appears to be free but reminds you to register the software at Hotline's website. Since iPOKE will take the serial number that I use for Hotline version 1.2.3, I assume that they want you to register hotline version 1.2.3 with www.HotlineSW.com and then use that password in iPOKE. A check at the above Hotline website has no reference to older Hotline versions such as 1.2.3, so they probably no longer support it. If you can persuade them to take your money and give you a serial number, you might be in business; otherwise you will have to live with the nagging.

Which client would I recommend? If you dislike the banners of Hotline 1.8.4 and have a serial number, then iPOKE is the Hotline client for you. It has the same code, offers the same features and stability, and is much more pleasant to look at then Hotline 1.2.3. If you like Hotline 1.8.4, you probably won't like iPOKE or Hotline 1.2.3. Hotline 1.8.4 is free, adds new usable features, and has better file and news structures.

Ratings in mice where 1 is poor 5 is outstanding:

Application Hotline 1.8.4 iPoke
Bloatware: 4.5 Mice 5.0 Mice
Ease of Use: 4.5 Mice 4.0 Mice
Stability: 5.0 Mice 5.0 Mice
Features: 4.5 Mice 3.5 Mice
Cost: 4.5 Mice 3.0 Mice
Overall: 4.5 Mice 4.0 Mice