those of you that missed it, on Thursday Norway's Opera Software ASA
released Opera 11. We've used plenty of browsers in our day,
and we can tell you that the Opera browser, like Google's Chrome
browser, is headed in a very good direction.
we get started, we suggest you take Opera 11 out for a test drive of
your own. You can grab the browser here.
The browser is available in Windows, Linux, and OS X.
11 has always looked pretty nice. With the latest release,
Opera has made its Aero Glass a bit more transparent. Overall
the look is cleaner. All the key buttons (such as your close
tabs button "recycle" button on the top right, or you turbo
button on the bottom left) are all in easy to reach locations.
browser looks remarkably similar to Mozilla's Firefox 4.0 beta 7,
with a few subtle differences. It breaks the refresh button out
to the left, where Mozilla has this on the right as a smaller button
within the address bar. And the "feedback" button has
been replaced by the more useful "Tab Recycling" icon,
which allows you to reopen closed tabs.
4.0b7 and Chrome 8 were our two previous favorites in terms of looks.
But Opera may be the best looking browser we've tested yet.
do have one complaint, though. We would like to see Opera adopt
Firefox's method of pressing the "Alt" key to temporarily
get the traditional menu bar. You can get such a bar in Opera,
but you have to manually select it ("Menu" > "Show
Menu Bar") and deselect it ("File" > "Show
Menu Bar"). If this tweak was added, we couldn't imagine a
much better interface.
to the functionality, Opera has a lot of nice upgrades. The
biggest one is
the Opera homepage you can go to "Add-ons" > "Opera
extensions" to access the growing catalog of extensions.
now the catalog is relatively small -- only 215 extensions (Mozilla's
Firefox has close to 12,800). Nonetheless, there are some
useful ones already available. We test drove "AdSweep",
which is the Opera extensions equivalent of Firefox's "AdBlock".
In our tests it worked flawlessly, blocking ads even on
traditionally ad-rich pages like Sports
also tested out a pair of video related extensions -- "Turn
Off the Lights" and "FastestTube".
For being so simple, we love Turn Off the Lights. It
essentially makes the Browser window black, except for the currently
watched video. For watching internet videos, we now view this
as virtually essential. FastestTube, by contrast, allows you to
download YouTube videos. In our tests this worked with some
videos, but others appeared to disallow videos (such as a CNN.com
short, there isn't that big an extensions catalog yet, but the
current catalog already greatly enhances Opera's web browser.
with Opera 10.0, is one of our favorite things in Opera. When
tethering to a smartphone, Turbo allows much faster
page loads. If you are using any browser other than
Opera when tethering (unless it's work mandated, of course), we'd say
you're doing yourself a disservice.
Turbo can not work on https pages due to technical details (but
that's a good thing for security).
second favorite feature in Opera 11 is a new one -- tab stacking.
Firefox 4.0b7's tab grouping is similar, but left us with mixed
feelings. You had to jump into a different window and the
process wasn't entirely intuitive. By contrast, tab stacking is
flawlessly executed. You drag one tab on another, and voilà!
it's stacked. To access your stacked tabs, just click the
little arrow next to them to expand or contract a particularly stack.
stacking is an absolute godsend when you have a large amount of tabs
open. It allows you to instantly access groups of similar tabs
(e.g. Amazon.com product searches/views or your favorite news sites)
without having to view them 24-7.
feature we really like is Opera's mail panel. Basically it
feels like Thunderbird and a browser fused into one. Accessing
it is a bit less than intuitive (though Opera's tutorial does a
pretty good job of explaining).
access it, you must first go to "Menu" (top of screen) >
"Mail and Chat Accounts..." A dialog will then comes
up that allows you to add the necessary details that you need to
access your email.
complete, you can click the "Panels" button on the far
bottom left. Then just click the envelope icon (left) and the
mail panel will instantly appear and begin to populate. Note,
clicking "Inbox" opens a new tab, with your email inbox, as
do the other links.
only complaint here would be that we'd like to see the envelope icon
automatically accessible when you press the "Panels"
button. Rather than being forced to add the account by sifting
through "Menus", it would be far more intuitive just to
click the envelope icon and have it automatically launch the setup
process if an account hadn't been added.
the mail client is superb, so we can't complain too much.
out the features, there's a new visual interface to mouse gestures.
To intentionally or unintentionally access this new interface,
just hold down your right mouse button. Your list of gestures
is instantly displayed.
be honest, despite testing several versions of Opera over the last
few years, we'd never taken the time to really use mouse gestures
fully. Now that it's been presented in a more intuitive way,
we've finally started to use them.
Gestures, we would say, take a bit of readjusting by your brain. But
when you learn how to use them, you'll be quickly performing them,
and you'll have to touch the address bar ("Back", "Reload",
etc.) far less.
Safer Address Field
final improvement worth noting is the addition of new icons next to
the address you visit. Regular web pages say "Web"
(or "Turbo" when Turbo mode is active), while https sites
show up as "Secure". The bar also warns you about
untrusted sites. You can click the little icon to get more
details about the page you're on.
A note on compatibility
had issues with Opera in the past in using sites designed primarily
to work with Internet Explorer/Firefox. As we did not code
these sites ourselves, we're not sure quite where the problems lay.
But revisiting these sites, in Opera 11 they all work
spectacularly. In fact, we did not encounter a single site that
did not work properly in the browser, thus far.
was a big thing in the past preventing us from using Opera as our
daily browser. But we now no longer have misgiving.
Opera 11 has a ton of features and looks great. It also sports
But how fast is it, exactly?
time around we stuck with our test procedure from our
last "Browser Wars 2" entry. Our basic goal was to
be as comprehensive as possible, including any accurate tests we
compare Opera 11 to Firefox
4.0 beta 7, which you can get here,
8, which you can get here.
basic benchmarks, we have included an overall test (Peacekeeper by
FutureMark), a CSS Test (How
Celtic Kane's JSBenchmark),
also continue to use Microsoft's rendering tests -- FishIE
Browser, and Flying
Images -- which show off the advantage of hardware
acceleration (which still is not up to snuff in Chrome and Opera, as
you'll see). Note, Microsoft also makes all
of these tests, so there may be some sort of favoritism there -- but
we hope not.
we've run Mozilla's Kraken,
making a test similar to Sunspider. As with the Microsoft
rendering tests, we hope there's no tweaks to give Firefox an edge
here (but there might be).
The results are as follows:
(Note: IE 9 test results for these same tests are available in the linked previous Browser Wars 2 entry)
1. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 5328
2. Opera (v11.00) - 3627
3. Firefox 4.0b7 - 2594
ii. CSS Test
1. Opera (v11.00) - 9 ms, 4 ms, 5 ms
2. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 10 ms, 6 ms, 6 ms
3. Firefox 4.0b7 - 30 ms, 8 ms, 8 ms
1. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 314.3ms ± 3.6%
2. Opera (v11.00) - 459.7ms ± 0.4%
3. Firefox 4.0b7 - 510.0ms ± 6.4%
iv. JSBenchmark (10 trials)
1.Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 434 ± 17
2. Opera (v11.00) - 280 ± 6
3. Firefox 4.0b7 - 260 ± 6
v. Dojo Tool Kit
1. Opera (v11.00) - 329, 710, 481, 458, 331, 164, 166, 170, 312
2. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 207, 1110, 442, 457, 492, 181, 200, 202, 345
3. Firefox 4.0b7 - 185, 1358, 599, 761, 551, 345, 337, 339, 553
vi. FishIE Tank (1000 fish)
1. Firefox 4.0b7 - 35 fps
2. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 3 fps
3. Opera (v11.00) - 20 fps (did not render properly)
vii. Psychedelic Browser (Hallucinogenic Mode)
1. Firefox 4.0b7 - 599 RPM
2. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 38 RPM (standard mode only...)
3. Opera (v11.00) - 10 RPM (standard mode only...)
viii. Flying Images (256 images)
1. Firefox 4.0b7 - 50 fps
2. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 15 fps
3. Opera (v11.00) - 9 fps (rendering issues)
1. Firefox 4.0b7 - 12119.4ms +/- 0.8%
2. Opera (v11.00) - 20804.8ms +/- 1.2%
3. Chrome (8.0.552.224) - 25400.9ms +/- 0.4%
some past rounds of browser wars, it's tough to call a clear winner
tests. But Firefox runs away with the rendering tests, thanks
to its GPU acceleration. Firefox 4.0b7 also earned the best
score in Kraken, but Mozilla writes this benchmark,
so we have a sneaking suspicions its written some sort of
optimizations in its JS engine to enhance its results, given that its
JS engine was far slower than Opera and Chrome's in third-party
would strongly recommend that readers test out Opera 11, as it's
proven itself to be a great browser in our testing. While many
have embraced Firefox, it tends to lag a bit behind Opera and Chrome
in terms of features and speed. Firefox 4 certainly has some
promising new features, it remains to be seen whether it is enough to
hold off a surging Chrome.
11 could propel the Norwegian browser maker to similar success, we
feel. Assuming enough people actually try the
new browser, we're guessing a number will enjoy it enough to make it
their day-to-day browser.
course Opera, Google, and Mozilla all have their work cut out for
them as there's always the dark horse candidate in this race --
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9. After years of inferior
releases, Microsoft finally looks ready to release a modern browser.
now, Opera can celebrate the fact that it got this impressive release
out the door ahead of Firefox 4 and IE 9's release versions.
All testing was done on a 64-bit Windows 7 Professional Edition. The hardware used was a MacBook Pro with an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9600, a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT GPU, and 4 GB of DDR RAM.