8 free Twitter clients for better tweeting

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

If somebody includes an image in their tweet, you can see it alongside the text. Click on the "Trending Topics" link, and you immediately have a 3 x 3 grid showing nine of the top Twitter trends. And if you're only interested in images, you could try the TwitPicGrid, a 6 x 3 grid showing nothing but images that people are uploading into Twitter.

What needs to be fixed? Let's face it, TweetGrid isn't the slickest-looking application around -- the interface is crowded and a bit difficult to read, even if you're using a simple 1 x 2 grid.

And some of the features are a little awkward to use; for example, if you want to create a group, you have to type the word group in the search box, followed by a list of the names you want in the group. Finally, if you're an Internet Explorer 6 user, either upgrade or forget it -- TweetGrid isn't supported by that version of IE.

Final verdict: This is a good place for somebody who wants to taste Twitter, or who needs to do a quick search for work but doesn't want to actually join the service.

TwitScoop

TwitScoop is where you go when you want to see what everybody else is talking about -- it keeps a constant eye on the Twitter zeitgeist and keeps you appraised of what the top topics are through a dynamic, constantly shifting map.

What does it do? You start by giving it access to your Twitter account. My first impression was that it's a glorified version of Twitter's page -- a straightforward friend feed on the left side of the page updates every minute or so. But it's what's on the right side that's important: a constantly shifting text cloud of what Twitizens are talking about.

What's cool about it? Curious about what a trend's about? Hover your cursor over one of the floating phrases in the text map, and you get a pop-up with the last few tweets that use that phrase. Want to follow the trend? Click on it and you're now following it in the feed on the left. Want to follow more than one trend? Click on the others, and you now have tabbed pages on the left, each following a different trend.

Or just sit and watch the text cloud change -- words grow and shrink in size, depending on their popularity in the Twitterverse. One word can dominate the field for hours (for example, when Twitter went down on the morning of August 6, the words hacked and hacker were the big winners until midafternoon). Others can appear, grow and then disappear in a matter of moments (usually indicating spam). For wandering Twitizens, an iPhone version is available.

What needs to be fixed? Not much, as long as you take TwitScoop for what it is -- a view of the moment's Twitter trends.

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