8 free Twitter clients for better tweeting

By Barbara Krasnoff, Computerworld |  Internet, Seesmic Desktop, TweetDeck

Want more? You can simultaneously send a message to your Twitter, Facebook and MySpace accounts, shorten URLs (by, among other ways, linking to your Bit.ly account -- if you have one -- so you can track your clicks), send Twitpics (a service that lets you share images on Twitter) and even translate your tweet into a number of languages, including Arabic, Latvian, Filipino and Hebrew.

TweetDeck recently added the ability to read Facebook Wall posts and, like Seesmic, to comment on and "like" Facebook status messages directly from the app. And while TweetDeck is a desktop application, if you register, you can sync and back up your columns across different machines.

But the best thing about TweetDeck is its ease of use. It has, up till now, managed to incorporate all these features into an interface that is not overwhelming or too busy.

What needs to be fixed? Very little, actually. There are a few glitches in the latest upgrade -- for example, I have to rebuild all my feeds each time I start it (a bug I hope is fixed soon). And it will be interesting to see if TweetDeck can keep its ease of use as it continues to add more features to keep up with the competition.

Final verdict: This is still one of the best Twitter clients out there, offering a nice balance of features and simplicity.

TweetGrid

TweetGrid is a very simple Web-based grid that lets you watch a number of feeds simultaneously. As the site's FAQ says, TweetGrid was built to be a "drive-by" service, where you can go, do a search or find a trend, and then leave -- anonymously.

What does it do? TweetGrid gives you a lot of flexibility in how you can view your various Twitter feeds. You start by creating a grid from a set of choices: one row of two columns, two rows of three columns, or even (if you want to really confuse yourself) three rows of three columns. (That's your maximum; TweetGrid supports up to nine searches at a time.) In each box, you specify your search terms and it immediately pulls in the feed.

Besides the searches, you can also mark a box in a column to follow your friends or your direct messages.

What's cool about it? This is a quick and easy way to follow whatever trends or searches you need to. TweetGrid doesn't demand anything from its users -- you don't have to register with TweetGrid or even with Twitter. Just pop over to the site and specify your grid and your searches. You can even save your searches by simply bookmarking them -- nothing could be easier.

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