Most of us have a love-hate relationship with Google Chrome. For the longest time, I felt stuck with it despite hating it. It hogged all the RAM in my computer and drained the battery. But in the past few months, I’ve switched to Opera. And you should too, especially if you’re a student.
Opera is everything you love about other browsers, but with better features. No matter which back-to-school laptop is best for you, there’s no question about which browser is best. One taste of Opera and you’ll switch in no time.
Access Blocked Sites With Built-In VPN
I switched after anyone could get free, unlimited VPN on Opera. A VPN, or virtual private network, is a proxy server that both allows you to access blocked sites and protects your privacy.
Several universities block certain websites. Whatever the reason for it, a VPN can bypass this restriction. Now even among the best VPN services, you need to be careful about what you use. Some free services have been known to sell your data to others or use your bandwidth without your knowledge. Otherwise, VPNs will limit how much data you can use in a day. On the other hand, Opera’s VPN is secure, respects privacy, and is completely unlimited.
You can set your location to United States, Germany, or U.K. Apart from accessing blocked sites, you can also bypass regional restrictions on YouTube and others. Read our detailed review of Opera VPN to find out everything about it.
Using a VPN is also an effective way to secure your Wi-Fi connection from others who might try to attack your computer. Wi-Fi network attacks are pretty common and using a VPN makes you more secure.
Boost Battery Life With Built-In Power Saver
Does your laptop’s battery run out before you are done with your work? Battery life is a big issue. And whether you know it or not, Chrome is one of the biggest culprits for this.
Recently, our detailed test revealed ditching Chrome for Opera improves battery life. Even though Opera is based on the same Chromium base code as Chrome, its battery efficiency is far better.
Part of the reason for this is the built-in Power Saver mode. It shows as an icon next to the URL bar once you enable it in Settings. You can switch on this Power Saver mode manually at any time. Otherwise, it will kick in automatically once your battery’s health goes below 20 percent.
The Power Saver mode helps with battery efficiency by:
- Reducing activity in background tabs.
- Automatically pausing unused plugins.
- Reducing frame rate to 30 frames per second.
- Forcing usage of hardware accelerated video codecs.
- Pausing animations of browser themes.
Our tests showed that you easily got another 40 minutes to an hour of battery life once you switch from Chrome to Opera. And when you’re out and about on campus with a full day’s worth of lectures ahead, battery life is king.
Load Sites Faster With Built-In Ad-Blocker
Advertisements can take the joy out of the web browsing experience. So many websites are filled with annoying, intrusive ads. You don’t want one popping up in a lecture! Understanding this, Opera has included a built-in ad-blocker.
The ad-blocker works without any fuss, and is lighter than using third-party extensions like Adblock Plus. Importantly, you are also relying on a corporation like Opera to fight for you.
The Opera ad-blocker will stop useless elements of a web page, thus loading it faster. It’s also not unnecessarily aggressive, so it won’t get rid of important elements like social sharing buttons.
Here at MakeUseOf, we understand your need to protect your experience. That’s why we make an effort to delete bad, intrusive ads. The rest that are left won’t hamper your experience. Remember, these ads are how you can access MakeUseOf for free, so we request that you whitelist MakeUseOf in your ad-blocker!
Maximize Screen Space With Sidebar Extensions
One of the most overlooked features of Opera is its sidebar. Its utility will shock you. Go to Menu > View > Show Sidebar to turn it on.
On a widescreen computer, the web page will mostly be wasting a little space on both sides. Turning on the sidebar makes efficient use of this space.
Browse through Opera’s sidebar extensions to find the best ways that you can make use of it. Here are a few ideas for students:
- Classic Notes — A simple scribble pad to write notes quickly.
- Google Keep Sidebar — Access the best to-do list app in your sidebar.
- Side Calculator — A quick calculator so you don’t need to open another.
- Web Panel — Access the mobile version of any site in your sidebar.
- Skype Sidebar — Chat with friends with a simple, always-on messenger.
Other Opera Goodness
Apart from these valuable features, there is much more to love about Opera. Start exploring the browser and you’ll find that it’s brimming with possibilities.
- Opera Turbo speeds up browsing by smartly compressing data, on both desktop and mobile.
- Speed Dial and Discover are two of the top features of Opera.
- Apart from Opera’s own Extensions, you can install Google Chrome extensions in Opera.
- Opera is possibly the best browser right now, or at least our author for that article thinks so.
- You can use built-in mouse gestures to browse faster on Opera.
So what are you waiting for? Get the latest version of Opera right away for a better school year.
Download — Opera for Windows, Mac, and Linux