I’ve been a long time fan of the Opera browser, from when it was among the first to support tabbed browsing, had the cleanest interface and was ad-supported. My biggest grouse was that it never got enough support from developers and companies so it always lagged the big boys, Internet Explorer and Firefox, when it came to protocols and support for other third-party apps. The latest version, 9.5 aka Kestrel, is simply mind blowing and fantastic to use.
It now has a redesigned smart address bar, better download and content management, and much better memory and performance management. Above all, it looks awesome when compared to it’s peers. It combines a browser, mail client, rss reader, IRC chat client and newsgroup reader into one neat package. All these applications can be accessed from the side panel so there is minimum intrusion while you are browsing. The address bar of course, is similar to Firefox’s Awesome bar, which searches for words typed in the address bar, not only in the URL’s but also the entire webpage content, which sometimes leads to information overload. Some other nifty features are;
Speed Dial: A feature that has been around for a while it lets you quickly access upto nine of your favourite or often visited sites from the same page.
Security: Opera is security concious as well, and has it’s own protection mechanisms to ward off phishing and malware attacks. Fraud Protection is enabled by default.
BitTorrent: Opera also acts as a BitTorrent client, which no other browser has on offer. I’m not much of a torrent freak, so haven’t really tried out this feature.
Paste and Go: One of my favourites. This comes in handy when I’m feeling too lazy to hit the Enter key on the keyboard to visit a link. 🙂 All I need to do is copy a link, right click in the address bar and select Paste And Go, which pastes the link and also fetches the page. You can also use Ctrl+Shift+V to do so. Wish other browers had it too. I tried it with IE and FF but no luck. However, one feature present in these two but not in Opera is the ability to reload / refresh all tabs, which was a bit surprising.
Using Ctrl+Z: Has been around for a while now, and lets you restore the last page you closed, especially if you do so by mistake.
Earlier, there were some issues when accessing sites for financial transactions, like netbanking or online trading, but that is also now a thing of the past. All in all, a pretty decent upgrade, though not without some issues, which I’ll touch upon later.