Opera, one of the oldest names in the browser world, has just released its latest version. There must be something that enabled Opera to survive for so long. And looking at its track record, it’s only natural for users to expect something special with this version 10.
Being an Opera long-time fan (back to the days of Netscape vs. IE), I’m also curious about what goodies Opera 10 has to offer. So I gave Opera 10 – Mac version for me – a test drive, and here is my Opera browser review with several nice features that I like.
Speed Dial those pages
The first thing that users will notice is the “speed dial” page which will always be shown every time a new blank page is opened. The idea is that users will be able to access their favorite pages using these pre-configured “dial-pad”. Something like “Top Sites” in Safari.
There are nine default boxes, click an empty one to add a web page and click on an assigned one to go directly to that page.
Users can configure how many dial-pad boxes they want – from 4 (2 x 2) to 25 (5 x 5), what background image to show, or whether they want to hide or show speed dial.
What makes this feature special is the ability to synchronize these speed dial boxes to other Operas in other places, even under different OSes and different devices.
Link with Opera Link
The synchronization process discussed above is done using a feature called Opera Link. Using this service, users can synchronize Speed Dial, Bookmarks, Personal Bar, Typed History, Notes, and Searches.
But before using it, users should sign up first for an Opera account.
I think this synchronization feature could be Opera’s strongest selling point because of the existence of Opera Mini. As one of the leaders in mobile browsers, Opera Mini could “persuade” its users to try the desktop version just to have all of their data synchronized between devices.
Playing with Panels
Opera has a customized side panel which can be opened by clicking the “Panels” button next to tabs.
Users can fill in the panels with useful tools like Bookmarks, Widgets, Notes and History, by going to Tools –> Appearance menu
and then choosing the Panels tab.
Mail and Chat
Opera has an email client built-in the browser. Even though some users might prefer a stand-alone client, others would likely embrace the idea of Mail-Browser integration.
The first step of using this client is creating an account.
Beside email, there are other kinds of account that could be set, such as Newsgroups and IRC chat. (I wonder whether anybody still use these two classics and I also wonder why Opera included them).
Peeking through tabs
This one is a simple feature which I think is very useful. Users can peek into the background tabs just by hovering the mouse above the tab.
Turbo-charge the browsing experience
Opera 10 has another unique feature called Opera Turbo. Opera claims that this feature is able to boost the Internet bandwidth speed on slow connections by using Opera proxy servers to compress data and image traffic before they reach the browser.
To enable the feature, just click on the Opera Turbo’s teeny-weeny button on the bottom-left corner of the window.
Users should customize the turbo setting first before using it. There are three settings available: Automatic, On and Off.
Those with slow internet connections will be grateful for this free service provided by Opera as there are many similar services out there that charge high monthly fees for more or less the same features.
Surely, there are many more features in Opera 10 such as mouse gestures and widget support (similar to addons for Firefox), but for now, I’ll limit myself to these favorite features of mine.
And if you think you still need a little bit “nudge” to try Opera, please look at the CPU usage comparison between Opera and our favorite Firefox. (Those are dynamic numbers which always change slightly from time to time, but you get the picture, right?)
One more thing, for this Opera browser review I used Opera for Mac, but I assume the features would be the same under different OS. Opera 10 is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, QNX, OS/2 and BeOS.
Do you use Opera? Which features do you like? Share your thoughts and opinion in the comments section below.