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In our number 10 spot, iChatFilipina.com represents a step up in quality in comparison with those dating sites outside our top 10. It looks more polished, is better designed and more user-friendly than sites such as ManilaDarlings.com and MelindasPenpals.com. However, it shares the common problem in terms of small membership base and lack of online activity, which is crucial when casting your net in the online dating world.
iChatFilipina.com is part of iChat Media Solutions Inc, a company that has plenty of experience in online dating. It's likely that this is a lot do do with why it looks so good and is easy to navigate and use. It's free to sign up and create your profile, and this is necessary if you want to take a good look around. You can always fill in the basic details and return to complete your profile later if you'd like to check out the features first.
Rather disappointingly, there were only 67 members online when we checked out the site, from a total membership base of just under 70,000 profiles. Members join to look for friendship, activity partners, online chat, romance and long-term partners. Given that a significant proportion of profiles are likely to be inactive, it's not an especially large site. So, whether you're looking to meet and chat online or meet in person, bear this in mind. iChatFilipina.com claims to be a fast growing site and it may be worth checking back in the future; but for the time being your chances of finding a date are somewhat limited.
Profiles are reasonably detailed and include basic information (e.g. gender, interests), personal information (education, languages spoken) and physical characteristics (e.g. appearance, height, weight). Some sections are self-written and allow a greater freedom of expression. You can upload multiple photos, add a video message and embed videos from sites such as YouTube.com to share with other members. The 'Matchmaker' system also enables you to select settings based upon the kind of person you're interested in. Based upon your choices, the Matchmaker will find the most appropriate members and send you weekly updates with their profile details.
You can communicate in a number of ways. Private messages can be sent by email, to break the ice with a member you can send a 'smile' (an automated message expressing interest-you can also attach a brief message) or join a webcam chat room (only a few members were in the chat rooms at the time of this review). In addition, it's possible to send 'friend' invitations, forward profiles to friends in your network and 'bookmark' profiles so you can easily return to them later.
A number of search options are available (see above). Whilst the general search tool helps you quickly find members based upon basic criteria, the advanced search is useful if you want to be very specific. It's also possible to perform 'tagged' searches (members can tag their profiles with certain words and terms that help others find them) and only return profiles with photos or members currently online. If you're less choosy, the one-click tabbed searches will return newest member profiles, members online, those closest to your location, featured members (based upon best profiles) and most viewed members.
You can upgrade to a Premium membership for a very reasonable price, particularly if you sign up for longer; if you subscribe for 12 months you can save 42% per month, based upon the normal monthly subscription price. Free members get a good deal; they can send up to 10 emails per day, store up to 50 in their message box, visit video chat rooms, upload up to 10 photos, 1 video message and embed 2 videos to share. Free members are limited to basic search and the tabbed searches and don't get the all-important Matchmaker feature. Premium members can send up to 100 messages per day, store up to 200 in their inbox, upload up to 20 photos, 5 video messages and share 10 embedded videos, use the advanced search and receive weekly Matchmaker updates. For more information there's an extensive FAQs page and guidance on the site, as well as email support.
iChatFilipina.com has plenty to recommend it, including solid features and great premium priced membership. However, you need to weigh this up with the relatively small number of members before you commit your hard-earned dough. Maybe one for the future though?
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