Opera has somehow remained behind the scenes in the so-called battle of the web browsers… until today. With the release of its brand new version 10, Opera has now the chance to jump on stage as it proves an excellent alternative to other more widely-used browsers.
If you’ve downloaded the previous beta and RC releases, you won’t notice many differences in this final version. The interface and functionality remain pretty much the same, at least at first sight.
However, Opera 10 does include nice improvements compared with older versions. The first feature you’ll probably notice is Speed Dial, a special page Opera 10 displays every time you open a new tab. This page is automatically generated with thumbnails that link to the websites you visit most frequently, but can also freely customized with other sites. So don’t worry about a sensitive web page showing up: you can easily remove it from Speed Dial.
Another outstanding characteristic in Opera 10 is Opera Turbo, a cutting-edge technology that compresses web pages for improved loading times. According to Opera developers, it enables the browser to render pages up to 8 times faster. Opera Turbo is designed to work with slower Internet connections, so don’t expect it to be any use if you’re enjoying a high-speed broadband service.
Opera 10 still offers the popular Opera widgets, small desktop apps – similar to Vista sidebar gadgets or Mac widgets – with very varied purposes: from traditional pastimes to more practical to-do lists, including weather forecast tools, all sorts of games, translators, social network companions, calculators and calendars. You can easily browse all available gadgets from within Opera and download the ones you like most.
I specially liked the tab bar in Opera 10. If you hover the mouse over any tab, the browser will display a thumbnail with the content of that selected tab. But if you prefer to preview the content all of the tabs currently open in the browser, simply drag the tab bar down with your mouse and it’ll be transformed into a thumbnail bar.
Opera 10 includes other minor improvements such as an inline built-in spell checker (with support for 51 languages) and an auto-update tool with which you can keep your browser up to date in an easier way. Plus, this final version is fully compatible with Web standards, according to the Acid3 test in which this version scores an impressive 100%.
So, doesn’t Opera have any flaws? Like any other piece of software, of course it does. The most important missing element is Unite, the file sharing service that turned your web browser into a web server and which everyone at Opera seemed to be so excited about. Apparently it didn’t make it beyond Beta 3. Finally, Opera 10 also lacks a handy feature that other browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox have implemented lately: private browsing.