While there are tons of news, excitement and hypes over the release of Firefox 3 and how it is going to break the Guiness World record, few have realized that Opera has also released their latest version 9.5. This browser was built with a new browser engine and it contains plenty of useful apps, that hopefully, could steer itself back to the browser race.
Since Firefox 3 is come pre-installed in Ubuntu, I took the opportunity to test out Opera 9.5 and see if it has enough juice to replace Firefox as the default browser in your desktop.
The following are some of the noticeable differences that I observed:
Even though Firefox 3 is fast, Opera is even faster. A browser test shows that Opera took about 100ms to startup and complete loading the home page while Firefox 3 took a miserable 240ms to startup and another 100ms to load the page. Not that the 140ms extra makes a great deal of differences, but it is definitely make Opera looks more impressive. First impression counts, and in this case, Opera 9.5 really makes its presence counts.
Good support for flash plugin
It is the ‘norm‘ for Firefox to crash whenever it loads a flash content, especially videos (sad, but true). This is also the main issue that most Ubuntu users are facing. This issue has been around since Firefox 2 and I am quite disappointed that it has not been solved in Firefox 3. In Opera, the support for Flash content is excellent, if not, flawless. There is no crashes and the loading is fast and smooth. Same flash plugin, different browsers, different result.
One of my favorite extension in Firefox is Foxmarks because it allows me to sync my bookmarks across different computers. In Opera, the synchronization feature is in-built with it. The Opera link syncs not only your bookmarks, but also include your notes, personal bar and speed dial between computers and mobile devices. You never lose your information even when you are using other computer.
Display Tabs in tiles, cascade
Opera 9.5 allows you to display your tabs in tiles or cascade. This is useful when you are doing a price or product comparison over different sites. You can now have a bird eye view of all the tabs arranged in tile format, and it saves you time in switching from tab to tab.
Yes, Firefox has a great password manager, but why can’t it take a step further and log you in automatically? Magic wand did a great job in doing just that. Not only does it saves your password, it also automatically log you in without any fuss. Simply click the wand icon beside the address bar, or “Ctrl+Enter“.
Seasoned Opera users will know that the Speed dial has been around since the previous version of Opera. I find this to be a very useful feature and I was rather disappointed that Firefox didn’t include this in their native build. Even though the Speed Dial extension tops my list of favorite Firefox extension, somehow I still find it uncomfortable that it causes a split second delay whenever I open a new tab. I find the speed dial in Opera very elegant. Since it is integrated in Opera, it also loads faster and smoother. (By the way, do you know that you can easily add more window to the speed dial in Opera by tweaking the configuration?)
So is Opera good enough for your Ubuntu desktop? My answer is Yes. Even though I love Firefox for its robustness and flexibility, there are some great features in Opera that I find it extremely useful, but are not available in Firefox. While I don’t think it could become a replacement for Firefox, it can definitely be a great complement to it, especially when you need to watch a Youtube video without your browser crashing.
What do you think?