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Opera's third beta of its 10.0 browser brings more speed improvements, better thumbnail previews, and more.  (Source: NeoWin)
Beta is mostly solid with a few rough edges

Over the last few years Opera, a veteran player in the browser industry, has been turning heads by delivering increasingly user-friendly products.  While such praise is typically lavished on Firefox, Opera's Speed Dial and synchronization features help set it apart.  In fact, the president of Futuremark, Oliver Baltuch, admits that while Opera isn't the fastest browser, he finds it the most pleasant to use for his personal use.

With Opera's first two betas of its upcoming 10.0 browser, it came a long ways to closing the speed gap between it and Chrome/Safari.  In the popular SunSpider benchmark, though, the third Opera beta still lags behind Firefox 3.5.  Nonetheless, the third beta does offer noticeable speed increases, as well as new customizations.

The exciting thumbnail preview feature, similar to Aero Peek in Windows 7 and a canceled feature of Firefox 3.5, is now customizable and can appear to the right or left and on the top or bottom of the screen.  The browser's crash logger has been improved, as has the turbo mode, a feature which uses Opera's servers to compress data for faster browsing.

The new beta also features improved language support -- 38 languages are now supported.  Other popular features present in the other betas return, including inline spell checking, an integrated email client, and a web feed reader.  The browser also scores a perfect 100 on the challenging Acid3 test, thanks to its strong standards support.

Still, the browser does have its rough edges.  Security is rather poor, though much of Microsoft's protections (such as anti-phishing, and detecting malicious URLs) typically are not needed by more web savvy users (though you can't always count on your friends, family, or a significant other being as knowledgeable). 

Furthermore, some pages that have been designed around the Firefox/IE 8 duopoly may have minor quirks.  For example, dynamically resizing Office-like windows in blogs sometimes experience an odd glitch where they get stuck in an infinite downscroll when the typed text hits the bottom of the box (triggering a resize in Firefox).  Again, this probably isn't the fault of Opera or its rendering engine (Presto), but rather is an unfortunate inevitability of being a smaller player in the browser market.

Nonetheless, Opera 10.0 beta 3 seems a sign of good things to come.  With Opera a leading player in the smartphone browser market, and currently on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DSi, the company appears to be moving in the right direction.  And for experienced users, the new beta, like the last couple, is definitely worth taking for a ride.

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By Bateluer on 8/14/2009 9:58:44 AM , Rating: -1
Its the addons that FireFox has that elevate it above its competitors. Without Adblock, NoScript, FlashBlock, etc, savvy people aren't going to migrate away from FF.

RE: Addons?
By invidious on 8/14/2009 10:28:27 AM , Rating: 5
One could easily make the argument that a browser should include such convinience features in the default program. Opera does this for everything important including ad blocking. The extent to which FF needs addons is the extent to which the program is lacking.

RE: Addons?
By rdeegvainl on 8/14/2009 10:45:38 AM , Rating: 4
One can also easily make the argument that the extra features should be addons so as to let the user decide which they want, and cut down on bloat, while simultaniuosly allowing the community to make features they want available without having to wait on a companies timeline for releasing updates.

RE: Addons?
By WTFzilla on 8/17/2009 12:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
One can also easily make the argument that the extra features should be addons so as to let the user decide which they want, and cut down on bloat

Yeah, that's funny you know. Even with all that functionality, Opera is still smaller than everyone else!

RE: Addons?
By omnicronx on 8/14/2009 11:01:33 AM , Rating: 1
FF was built as an extendable platform, it was designed that way. That being said, while Opera may include those features, they are definitely lacking compared to Firefox extensions.

I tried to ditch FF for Opera and found myself back with FF within a week because of such. Operas presto is damn fast, but overall Firefox 3.5 is the better browser IMO.

RE: Addons?
By vikramsbox on 8/14/2009 8:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
FF extentions were intended to keep the package compact while allowing scope for future functionality. But just see the size of the installers of FF and Opera. Opera has the better base package with email client + torrent client and its smaller in size!
Also FF's shell that is left open for extentions allow many sites to force open windows instead of tabs and hide the navigation bar- which they can't do with Opera. And Opera has cool features like auto page fit, zoom, speed dial and also one feature hidden in the toolbar costomization where it identifies itself as IE/FF to sites to render them correctly.
All the options are available in the menus instead of the cryptic about:config like FF.
I'd rather have a more robust and comfortable browser than FF putty that mends to every sites' wishes.

RE: Addons?
By joey2264 on 8/14/2009 11:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
As others have mentioned, Adblocking is built-in, and fantastic. Flashblock can be easily added (although you have to configure for specific websites using a text file instead of in the program). Noscript can't be added, but every time I have tried to use that in Firefox, I have encountered problems. Far more trouble than its worth, IMHO.

And Opera still feels a little faster in real world use. Not to mention how much faster it is when zoomed in. Better mouse gestures, excellent speed dial feature (faster and better integrated than the firefox addons).

Yes, some features of some sites don't work, but you can still do 95% of your browsing in Opera, and be the better for it, IMO.

RE: Addons?
By Sazar on 8/14/2009 12:16:39 PM , Rating: 1
Yes and no.

I like the customization options in FF, no doubt. But, in terms of interface, I think Chrome has it won hands-down (my FF build is completely redesigned to look and perform just like Chrome).

Opera offers the best of both worlds with a relatively clean build and a pretty good amount of speed. However, Opera offers by far the BEST implementation of Speed-dial.

Chrome's is not bad, the Firefox extensions attempting to duplicate the features SUCK. It's basically like going from a DX9/10 game with all the features turned on and dialing it all the way back to a DX7 game. Just abysmal duplication :(

At least the functionality is there.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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