REVIEW: eWEEK Labs' tests of the Opera 10 beta show that the browser's tradition of innovation continues. The Opera 10 beta includes new featuresincluding a Turbo mode that aims to speed slow connectionsthat will likely find their way into rival browsers in the future.
Ever wonder what features will be found in the next generation of Web
browsers? Well, usually there's one easy way to find out: Just check out the
latest version of Opera.
Opera may not be the best known or most used Web browser out there, but,
over the years, it has been one of the most innovative. Often, features that
become mainstays across browsers appeared first in Opera.
So, with the release of the Opera 10 beta, is Opera continuing to
out-innovate the competition? Well, while the Opera 10 beta isn't the most
innovative version of Opera that I've seen, it does have some nice new
capabilities and features that are likely to make their way into other browsers
in the future.
One of the more talked-about new features in Opera 10 is Turbo mode. Turbo
mode uses compression technology in an attempt to speed slow Internet
connections. Turbo mode is targeted mainly at users still stuck on dial-up
connections, but it can also be useful for bad Wi-Fi connections.
To test the Turbo mode, I used Opera on a dial-up connection and from the
farthest reaches of my Wi-Fi network. Turbo mode can't make a slow connection
fast, but most Web pages loaded up more quickly than in other Web browsers with
it turned on. (Turbo mode can be configured to kick in only when a connection
starts to slow down.)
The beta of Opera 10 also features a revamped look and feel, as well as some
very nice improvements to tabbed windows. In Opera 10 it is now possible to
resize the tabs bar and have it display thumbnails of sites within the tabs. I
found this handy for quickly looking through multiple tabs from the same site.
I also liked that I could resize a tab window back to its normal thin and
The Speed Dial feature in Opera makes it possible to launch a new tab and
get a display of live thumbnails of frequently visited Websites. This is a
great feature, and it has been copied in both Google Chrome and Apple Safari.
In the beta of Opera 10, users can customize their Speed Dial page in a
number of ways.
As always, users can choose what sites are shown in Speed Dial and drag and
drop the order in which they are displayed. Advanced customization options let
users control the layout and even add a background image.
Although Opera is usually a leader, it does sometimes follow. For example,
the Opera 10 beta adds Web integration, a feature found in other browsers that
makes it possible to use Web-based applications such as Webmail to handle
actions within the browser, such as clicking on a mail-to link.
The current versions of Firefox and Chrome have better implementations of
Web integration than that found in Opera 10. For example, when I clicked on a
mail-to link in a Web page using Opera 10, a window popped up that provided
options on how to handle it. Webmail was one of the options, but I was limited
to a few preset options. Options in the other browsers, in contrast, include
the most popular services, such as Gmail and Yahoo mail.
The beta of Opera 10 also includes some small changes, including a resizable
search field and improvements to the built-in spell checker. Unlike previous
versions of Opera, which required that users download and install new versions,
the Opera 10 beta allows users to set the browser to update automatically. No
new versions of Opera were released during the time I tested the new browser,
so I was unable to test this functionality.
The Opera Web browser has always been very strong when it comes to standards
support, and it looks like Opera 10 will be no exception. Standards support overall
is very good, and the beta of Opera 10 gets a perfect score in the Web
Standards Project's Acid3 test.
To try out the latest beta of the Opera Web browser, go to www.opera.com/next
Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.