Opera 10: It’s Final. And Worth Trying
Opera 10, the newest version of the browser that's arguably the most venerable one going, is now available in its final version. It's very much the product I reviewed in beta version back in June. The most striking new feature is Turbo mode, which uses the same technology as the company's Opera Mini phone browser to compress Web pages and thereby speed up browsing on dial-up and other sluggish connections. It's noticeably zippier than standard mode, although its crunched-down images are pretty darn grainy. The tradeoff isn't worth it if you're completely gruntled with the speed of your Net connection, but I think I'll keep it on hand for the next time I'm on an unbearably slow public Wi-Fi network.
Other major new stuff includes tweaks to Tabs (they can incorporate thumbnail previews) and Opera's speed-dial screen, which provides one-click access to your favorite sites. As usual, one of the most notable things about Opera is its sheer volume of features-it incorporates an e-mail app and a BitTorrent client, as well as its own widget engine. Oh, and the browser has a nicely minimalist new look that's an improvement on its formerly busy-looking self.
This "final" version of Opera 10 isn't complete: It lacks Unite, the interesting-but-controversial new feature that embeds a Web server in the browser. Unite's still a separate Opera Labs feature; if it catches on with developers, it'll be a bigger deal than any of Opera 10's other new features.
I've been using and enjoying Opera 10 over the past few hours; the OS X version is running smoothly on Snow Leopard, but the browser's also available for Windows and Linux. (I've encountered one odd, minor bump: When I try to edit a Google Docs document, I get a view-only version-but it includes a link to a fully-editable one.)
As much as I'm enjoying the current Browser Wars 2.0, I think that switching browsers is an act best done by folks who are basically dissatisfied with the browser they've currently got. Every browser is capable of handling typical browsing tasks, and they all do them in basically similar fashion. But if you're in the mood to try something new, give Opera 10 a whirl-especially if you're still on dial-up. (According to Google Analytics, only slightly under two percent of you are currently running Opera, which leaves an awful lot of you who might like it if you tried it.)