Why Opera 9 might become my new favourite browser

From the moment I downloaded Firefox a couple of years ago, I never found another browser that served my needs better. The various plugins, for one, are invaluable.

I had Opera installed on my Windows laptop a while ago, but it was only there for testing purposes; Firefox still was my favourite. Since I converted to a Mac I've been too lazy to install Opera. Yesterday though, I used my free evening to download and play around with Opera 9. And I must say; I like it!


What I like about Opera

Speed Dial

Speed Dial’s such a simple, easy feature. It’s almost too simple to be of any value, but on the contrary!

Opera's Speed Dial lets you quickly select your favourite websites when 
opening a new tabSpeed Dial lets you add 9 different websites that you visit frequently and displays these as thumbnails every time you open a new tab. It works great and very intuitive. Most of the time I want to leave my current tab intact and open a bookmark or something in a new one. In other words: Speed Dial always shows itself on exactly the right time and really speeds up my browsing experience.

Integrated BitTorrent support

To be honest; I haven’t played around with this as yet, but it sounds like a great feature. I don’t like having to use an external application to do stuff when my browser can handle that task as good as that specialized application.

Speed!

I’m not sure if I’m seeing things, but my impression is that this is truly the fastest browser around. I remember from the mid-1990s when Opera’s tagline already advertised the fact they were the fastest browser around, and I’m starting to believe it.

RSS feeds

The one thing I disliked about Firefox was its poor RSS feed handling. Let me break it down:

Now tell me, by looking at the screenshot below, can you tell if any of these websites has been updated?

Firefox does not show if a feed has been updated until you mouse-over that feed 
to check the headlinesExactly. Instead of manually having to check these websites, I have to manually check the feeds in Firefox. What’s up with that, really?

Opera presents my feeds exactly in the way I want. After the name of the feed, a little digit is shown representing the number of new articles that are currently unread. Just the way I like it.

Opera shows the number of unread articles after the name of the feedThe only thing that I find a tad stupid is that there is no way (or at least no way I have discovered yet) to order my feeds in categories or something. I like the fact that I have my webcomics separate from my webdevelopment blogs in Firefox. Oh well.

Mouse gestures

Another great way of speeding up a user’s browsing experience. On Windows, I have this tiny little third-party application that lets me use mouse-gestures system-wide, and that’s something I got to rely on pretty fast. Good thing Opera supports them natively.

The Preferences menu is filled with other juicy goodness, that enhances my browsing experience, but the above advantages are really the biggest.

What I dislike about Opera

For now, I only found a couple of things I dislike. Or, more accurate: things I like better in Firefox. The first are of course the various plugins. I’ve looked around Opera’s Widgets, but from what I’ve seen, its collection is not nearly as comprehensive as Firefox’s plugins. Especially the Webdevelopment toolbar is something I can hardly live without when developing websites.

The second thing is a matter of personal favour: Opera’s default skin is just plain ugly. Luckily it sports a Macintosh skin that is as sexy as OSX itself.

I’m not sure if I’m going to set Opera to be my default browser yet, but I must say I really, really like what I’m seeing.