Which IM client on the iPad should we be using?

When I was solely an iPod touch iOS user, I was a huge fan of Meebo for instant messaging. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dedicated Meebo client for the iPad. The web app works fine in Safari, but it doesn’t stay connected in the background, and it doesn’t support push notifications. The folks at Meebo are hip to the problem, and from the sound of this answer on their iOS FAQ, they’re working on it:

Is there a version of the Meebo app designed for the iPad?
Not at this time, however we are aware that this is something that iPad users are very interested in.

So, what am I left with? I hear great things about BeejiveIM and IM+ Pro, but they are $9.99 USD each. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I am in the financial position to be paying ten bucks for every app I use.

There are free solutions, though. IM+ has a free version, and so does AOL with it’s official AIM client, not to mention a dozen miscellaneous IM clients that all look the same to me.

For now, I am switching back and forth between AIM and IM+, but I haven’t decided what the best solution is, so I want to hear from you. What are the best free, cheap, and expensive IM clients? I’d be willing to drop a buck or three on a great client, but ten clams seems a bit steep. Let me know your thoughts on the situation by leaving a comment below this post.

Grant is a writer from Delaware. In his spare time, Grant maintains a personal blog, hosts The Weekly Roar, hosts Quadcast, and writes for video games.