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About me: Anyone in East Anglia going to the Bury St Edmunds Christmas fair (Nov 27-30th) ? I'll be in the Apex so come and say Hi :)

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Quote-start

A trip to Opera

Quote-end
04.05.2008

Advantages:
It's Free, reliable and stable .

Disadvantages:
No page progress bar

Recommendable Yes:

65 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (25%):
  1. MizzMolko
  2. MALU
  3. jo145
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very helpful by (75%):
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Intro.


I have recently had a PC disaster, my hard drive gave up the ghost and I lost everything and so the joyous task of reinstalling began. All went well until it came to reinstalling my web browser. I have always used Yahoo in conjunction with internet explorer but on reinstall I had major issues with both.
I spend upwards of eight hours a day performing various tasks on the internet so my browser is one of the most important pieces of software for me. Now, as Explorer wanted to crash every five minutes and Yahoo were slow in getting back to me to solve my issue with them, I decided to try Opera.

A little bit of history.


Opera was first started as a research project for a company called Telenor in Norway. This was way back in 1994. Since then the browser has gone through many changes and come up with new features that have been taken up by other browser companies such as tabbed browsing.
This version, Opera 9 is the newest release, although there is a new version, 9.5 available in beta.

The product.


Opera is a browser that enables you to connect to the multitude of web sites around the world. It is fully customisable and has safety features making it safe and secure and the best bit is that it is FREE.
The browser is fast, that is one of its selling points. It is certainly faster than Yahoo. I don’t know how it would compare to firefox or mozilla, but for me it is an improvement on what I was used to so I am happy with that.
The browser is downloadable from the Opera web site. Download and installation is quick and easy as is registration to the web site.

Features.


The browser in its raw state comes up as a clean screen, with no advertising at all. Buttons on the toolbar at the top of the screen give you access to various tools along with the address box and a search box. There is a pull down menu on the search box that enables you to use a range of search engines
There are some tools here that are designed to make your browsing faster and more straightforward.
Backwards and forwards.

As well as green arrows to take you either forwards or backwards to previously viewed screens there are blue double arrows that give you a fast forward opportunity. Basically what it does is take you straight back to the first page you visited on a site. This is useful if you have visited several pages and want to go back quickly without having to search for a home page button.
The only drawback is if you hit the button by mistake instead of the normal back button.
Magic wand.

This feature is a one hit login button. You have visited a site and logged in before, you have asked your browser to remember your password and username, with this feature you only have to hit the wand button and it will log in for you.
Tabbed browsing.

This feature enables you to have several windows open within the same window which allows to switch between them faster.
If you hover your mouse over the tab you will see a screen shot of the page, useful if you have similar sites open or different pages from the same site so you can see which tab is which.
When you open a new tab it gives you a new screen containing speed dial.
This feature is very useful for me as I usually have at least six or seven sites and pages open at the same time
Speed dial.

I like this feature. You can have up to nine sites that you use regularly showing as screen shots. Just click on the one you want and it opens a new tab with one click. From there click on the wand and you have opened the page and logged in with two clicks.
Fraud protection.

When you visit a site a question mark appears at the end of the address bar. If you click on that the site is tested to see if it is fraudulent or a trusted site. An information box will come up to tell you if the site has been verified by a third party or not and will also inform you if the site is on the blacklist of fraudulent sites. It also tells you whether or not exchanging information is secure or not.
Once a site has been verified the question mark is replaced with an i. Also if the connection is secure it shows you a locked padlock and the name of the secure site
This feature can be enabled to check sites automatically when you visit.
I have yet to visit a fraudulent site so I don’t know if the warning box comes up automatically, I would presume it does however.
An efficient pop up blocker also keeps away those annoying pop ups and so far I have found it to be the most efficient of any browser I have used.
Site preferences.

If you want to change the way you view a certain site, a right click enables you to change a wide range of characteristics. These include whether or not you want to allow popups and whether or not to allow cookies. It even shows you a list of cookies to enable you to choose which to allow. There are many choices about appearance and whether you want to allow javascript etc.
Mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts.

Not sure about this yet, haven’t tried it out yet. Basically this feature allows you to use certain mouse gestures to perform common tasks quickly.
For example holding the right mouse button down and quickly moving the mouse to the left takes you back to the previous page.
There are sixteen different movements that do different tasks. I am not sue that I would remember them all and would probably spend more time looking them up than it would take to perform the task. Maybe it is something that I will look into further as my experience with the browser grows.
The keyboard shortcuts are the same. There are many more of them, most using the shift key in conjunction with another. There are so many again that I think I would have a job remembering them. That said if I used either the mouse or keyboard shortcuts regularly and I did manage to remember them then they would be a good time saving device.
Navigation by voice.

If you have a microphone you can use this feature top navigate using voice commands for simple things like “up” “down” “new page” etc.
Notebook.

If you want to save notes on a certain web page or save a section of text you can easily do it using this feature.
Simply highlight the text you want to save and copy it to notebook and it will be saved along with the web address thus it works as a bookmark along with your note.
Widgets.

These are little programmettes that run from your browser. There are many different ones ranging from clocks to RSS feeds or even virtual fish tanks.
A little warning, these programmes do use processing power so if you have an older PC or a low power one if you install widgets you may well notice a drop in performance.
Download manager.

This helps you keep an eye on how your downloads are progressing and if there is a problem.
Bit torrent.

The download tool is included. I know that it is sometimes associated with dodgy downloading but it can have its legitimate uses as well.
Tools.

There are a wide range of functions to discover in the drop down menus at the top of the screen. This includes a tool to customise your homepage by adding a side bar or a myriad of other settings. There are too many settings and changes you can make here to mention them all.

Customisation.


If you register at the Opera web site there are a wide range of things to customise your browser.
You have a wide range of skins to choose from. These change the appearance of the page and buttons.
There is a vast array of widgets available on the site, hundreds of them. Some useful some entertaining, it is worth a look through, I am sure there will be some that take your fancy.
You can change your language on the site should you wish.
Also on the site there is a large community including forums and blogs where I am sure you would be able to find answers to any issues and much, much more information about customisation and new features. Any new features and improvements, many by community members, are available to download for free from the site.

The downside.


Yes I suppose there had to be one.
Something is missing that I find rather annoying. There is no progress bar to tell you how your page loading is doing.
Most pages I have found load in two or three seconds but some take longer and I am left wondering if the page is going to load or not.
There is no indication what is happening at all.
In the overall scheme of things I suppose this is a minor grumble especially as the whole thing is free but it does seem to be something of an oversight by Opera that maybe should be looked at in future releases.
Occasionally I have found little glitches while pages are loading but they are minor and fairly far between so apart from that I have yet to find a real downside.

Any other business.


Another nifty feature is that should your pc crash for any reason or even if you shut down then Opera will remember any open tabs so that your pages are still available when you log back in. Of course you will have to re-log in should that be required but with the wand that is a matter of a couple of clicks.

Opera is available for windows, MAC and Linux. There are also versions available for your Palm or mobile although I think you have to pay for those.

Summary.


So far I have found this to be the best browser I have tried. It seems stable and reliable and it is certainly faster than my old browsers.
I am sure I am going to discover many more features as I continue to use the browser and keep discovering as new ones are added. The possibilities are almost endless
It is amazing to think that Opera is free. I think it is a great product and have no hesitation in recommending it based on my use so far.
I will update should I find any concerns as my use continues.
I will certainly be having a look at the 9.5 version when it comes out of beta as I am sure there will be many new features added to make this an even more impressive product.

©Docpov May 2008

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Comments about this review »

TheHairyGodmother 08.10.2009 18:32

I never got on with opera, a particular games site I was playing on at the time I tried it wouldnt work with it so I gave up :(

blackmagicstar4 24.09.2009 09:45

fab review x

MizzMolko 30.06.2009 20:29

An excellent review - will have to return with an E : ) Eleanor x

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Type Internet Browsers

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This review of Opera 9 has been rated:

"exceptional" by (25%):

  1. MizzMolko
  2. MALU
  3. jo145

and 17 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.



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