Opera, I think, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Maybe it’s the marketing, maybe people remember just the old days when Opera was shareware. Today we’re going to look at Opera Beta build 10.00 1, also dubbed as “˜Turbo’.
Opera, today, is closed source and distributed as freeware. It has a very clean and simple interface, while still supporting a wide range of extensions which enhances its default capabilities. Accessing the “˜Panels’, which contain bookmarks, history, widgets, notes and transfers, is a single click affair to the main bar “˜wrench’ icon. If you’re used to keyboard shortcuts like “˜Ctrl+B’, don’t worry, Opera supports most of them.
Opera Turbo is faster at start-up than Firefox 3.1, with an average 5 tab cold start-up at 3.1 seconds compared to 3.9 seconds. Chrome 2.01, by far the fastest, started in just 2.1 seconds. Testing was done 3 times on a Windows XP SP3 machine with a 2,4Ghz single core AMD Turion 64 and 1GB RAM.
Looking at the release notes for this build of Opera Beta, I can tell you that if you’re looking for cutting edge innovation and performance, you might not find it here. The so-called “˜turbo’ mode is just an implementation of their mobile web caching technology that is used for Opera Mobile to slim down download sizes for web pages. And the result isn’t exactly usable in some cases. Graphics intensive websites are literally transformed into something not very eye-catching. While this may help in low bandwidth situations, it’s not where the world is going.
Other features worth mentioning are:
- Speed Dial, familiar to Chrome, IE8 or Safari 3 users, shows thumbnails of your most visited websites when you open a new tab. Opera let’s you manually choose which pages you want to appear.
- Opera Link, similar to Foxmarks, synchronizes your bookmarks, Speed Dial and notes over multiple desktops or mobile devices. “In Opera write a note – copy directions, create shopping lists or jot down anything you need to remember – and access it on any Opera browser by simply logging in.”
- Security also gets a boost, with a 3 step authentication method for websites and phishing/malware protection from 3 providers: NetCraft, PhishingTank and Haute Secure.
Opera, like its open source counterpart, Firefox, is very customizable: extensions, themes and now widgets. However, I think the Opera Widgets should be removed because it duplicates the functionality of more advanced, versatile software, which is integrated into virtually every mainstream operating system.
Opera has come a long way since I first met it, version 6, I remember. It survived on the market for 13 years, and still does have some marketshare. I think it will gradually lose those die-hard fans to Google Chrome or to Firefox. Why? Because it seems to me that they’ve been treading water more or less for the past 2 years, not bringing true innovation to the table. But Opera will still be there as long as OEM’s integrate it in their mobile phones, gaming devices and set-top boxes. An estimate puts mobile versions of Opera at 40 million devices.
It’s your turn now, so tell us in the comments what you think about Opera and how could the developers improve it to win you as a fan.