The MSN chat is one of the better ones I've found to be honest. Most PHP based chats will have that annoying page refresh feature. Anything else is hit or miss whether it works on everyone's machines, or whether it has speed and resource hogging issues.
Often, i just hand out in the MSN chatroom until someone shows up to chat with.
I do that as well, I just though it would be good to get suggestions for when it would be most worthwhile to do that.
Maybe some people have tried the chatroom on a number of occasions and never found anyone in there. So I think it would be good to hear suggestions for times. No one wants to be waiting around for ages without anyone turning up.