At a Glance
Opera might feel a little like Chrome-lite these days, but that’s no bad thing. The browser is fast, even on slow connections thanks to the Turbo mode, and has plenty to offer those who prefer not to live entirely in the Google universe.
There’s plenty of song left in the old lady, as the Opera
web browser looks fresher than ever. Read our Opera (v27) review. (Also see:
All software reviews.)
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the Opera browser, one that can only be surpassed by Internet Explorer which reaches that landmark this year. For such a veteran application it must be said the current version looks very modern indeed. Some of this will be down to the recent switch over to the Blink engine, which powers Google’s Chrome browser, while the rest lies in a minimalist approach to design that keeps Opera sleek and swift in equal measures.
Opening up the browser reveals a clean, sparse interface, with a solitary address/search bar at the top, open tabs above, and the Opera menu icon in the top left corner. Clicking this brings down a list of options that include the few special features offered by the application. In truth many of the innovations that Opera has made over the years have been adopted by other browsers and become common place, such as the speed dial screen that lists your most often visited sites, but there are a few jewels left in the crown yet.
Opera Turbo is an interesting idea that is meant to improve internet performance when you’re on a slow connection by passing the connection through the Opera servers where images and pages are compressed. This generally means faster loading times, and in practice we were quite happy with the results in comparison with the standard mode. Images are understandably more grainy than normal, but pages loaded successfully and quickly even on patchy Wi-Fi hotspots. (Also see:
How to delete cookies and browsing history.)
Bookmarks can be imported easily from other browsers, although we did struggle to find an obvious way to then add them to the Bookmarks bar. One clever, and potentially very useful feature, is that you can actually share a bookmark folder with friends. Say you were planning a holiday, or redecorating your home, and amassed several sites that housed the ideas you liked. Now, simply by clicking the Share button, you can send someone the entire folder to your friend instead of putting loads of links in an email.
Passwords that you save for your favourite sites are stored in an encrypted format on your hard disk, but if you want to use internet banking and other sensitive sites Opera prompts you to create a master password to protect your information. The browser also offer fraud protection to guard against malware and phishing, plus of course a private browsing mode.
Opera is also quite customisable thanks to an extensions and themes store that features offerings from Evernote, Pocket, Amazon, among many others – including several useful security plug-ins.
Best browsers for Windows and
best alternative web browsers
Opera v27: Specs
- Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/Windows Phone