Apr 27 2009
Opera has been around for ages. Thanks to a recent change of heart (or
business model) by the Norwegian software company you can now download and
use the Opera browser free of charge. While previous free versions were
saddled with ads, not Opera sings a different tune.
So, to get in on the fun, run over to
target="_blank">Opera.comand download your copy. Not convinced? Check
out the browser’s unique features:
I’m used to browsing with a tn of extensions loaded in Firefox, so when I
took off with Opera, I was suprised at the speed. I found it even quicker
than Firefox without extensions. That’s saying something, considering that
Opera is loading a mail and newsfeed client as well.
Opera’s interface sports a great balance of function, simplicity and polish.
Address options emerge only when you click on the web address. Other options
are so well tucked away you forget about them (the mail and chat client –
for example). Everywhere you go in the browser, you find things taking up
the minimal space, and put in just the right place.
The Mail Client
The mail client, complete with IMAP and POP support and spam filtering, is –
you guessed it – fast. The import wizard actually supports Mac Mail clients
including Thunderbird and Mail.app. Contacts are intuitively managed. Both
mail and contacts fit into the main window on tabs.
You can tweak everything from your themes and sidebars to menus and mouse
gestures. Opera’s portal also offers a photo album, blog and web-based
email. There’s even a tutorial for making your own theme.
Odds and Ends
Another thing I liked was the fact that the RSS reader is actually a reader,
not some kind of feed-bookmark thing. I also thought the notes were nice.
Together with “copy to note” and spellcheck Opera could be your next text
Opera is a lot of fun, but you have to meet a lot of criteria to become my
default browser. For most of my browsing, I’ll have to stick with Firefox,
thanks to extensions and standards support not found in Opera. While Opera
imports all kinds of settings including bookmarks, contacts and mail
accounts, it does not export to any formats besides its own.
The Fat Lady Sings
For many, the new free status of Opera is huge. I have to admit, it is a
superb browsing experience – fast and feature packed. For those not heavily
invested in Firefox add-ons or Safari’s ease, Opera makes a great browsing
choice. Who knows, maybe someday it might make default.