Monday, March 14, 2005

The Opera Browser's Advantages: A Personal Testimonial

As promised in a prior discussion about Internet browsers, I'm coming back to you with my personal list of features that I find appealing after having used Opera for approximately the past one and a half years.

But before that, a few disclaimers are in order. First, the list provided here is limited to those characteristics that I have found desirable in my personal experience using the software. Opera offers other features that, given my preferences and patterns, I have not taken advantage of. You can get a fix on them by clicking here.

[Buy Opera!]Second, I now often run the Firefox browser alongside Opera on my personal computer for some purposes. Even so, I still prefer the latter to the former. Having said that, since I don't have as much experience with Firefox as with Opera, I may be selling it short.

Third, for my present basis of comparison with IE, most of my use of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser now takes place during frequent visits to Bluffton, Ohio's small but none-the-less excellent public library. This facility provides a cove of contemporary personal computers with fast connections to the Internet. But, as probably prevails in like places across the U.S., IE is the only browser option.

Finally, using Opera will not mean that you can be totally free of Internet Explorer, especially if you use the Windows operating system. My understanding is that IE integral to the Windows, so it can't be removed. As well, there will probably be situations when IE will be your sole choice. In my case, when I want to send a jazzed up email using my Yahoo account, or to access a page via the EnewsBar that I've put on my pc, IE is the sole choice.

Now, on to why I'm navigating the web with less hassle and greater efficiency using Opera.

FASTER BROWSING – If you're still slogging in the slow lane riding a dial up connection as I am on my home computer, this benefit will be much appreciated. On the other hand, if you have some form of broadband, it shouldn't make much difference. Opera touts itself as the “fastest browser on earth” - a claim that has been independently confirmed - and from what I've seen, I have to agree. Even though all of the elements of a web page may not be downloaded – graphics being the best example - Opera routinely renders web pages readable more rapidly than does the competition. In this instance, I'm not only talking about IE, but Firefox as well.

VIRUSES VANISH – The frequency of those bug bites and waylaying worms has diminished to zero after Opera became my main browser. What a relief.

POPUPS NO MORE – With one minor exception that I haven't yet figured out, the popups, popunders, popovers and all that ancillary nonsense is nonexistent with Opera. Of course it still happens with IE down at the library, which is an ongoing annoyance. And, during those limited instances when I must use IE at home, my spyware program invariably arises to interrupt my surfing with its warnings. Never with Opera.

TABBED BROWSING – Boot up Opera once, and you can then open several pages at the same time, without the clutter of a whole bunch of little icons in your system tray, as is mandatory with IE.

SAVE YOUR PLACE – As far as I'm concerned, this feature alone is worth the transition to Opera. When Opera is opened, you have the option to continue from the last session, so the web pages displayed when the browser was last used come right back up. If you typically want to be where you were the last time your computer was running, or simply to access two or more web sites upon start up, it's quite a time saver.

FEWER CRASHES – There are times when Opera goes down - it's usually an 'illegal operation' - but these shutdowns have taken place substantially less often than with good old IE.

PAGE PROGRESS BAR - At the bottom of the browser, Opera gives detailed information while a page is coming in, such as the number of images contained, the total size of the page, the speed of the feed, and the amount of time it is taking to download. This is handy for those times when a page seems to be 'hung up' over the network, and aids in the decision to terminate or to continue the process.

A 'STOP' BUTTON THAT ACTUALLY STOPS – Have you ever had a page go haywire on you, and using IE, you are not able to abort the download? With Opera, when you click 'STOP', that's exactly what it does.

EASY PAGE SIZE ADJUSTMENT – Have you had a page that displays too large or too small on your screen? Simply punch '0' using Opera and the page size instantly increases by 10%. Hit '9' and the page is reduced in size by 10%. Very convenient.

MOVING BACK OR FORWARD, SANS MOUSE – At times, I find it a bit inconvenient to use the mouse to go back to the previous page or move forward to the next, as must be done with IE. Using Opera, simply press the 'z' key to return, or the'x' key to move ahead. When I'm down at the library, I'll catch myself doing this out of habit, but of course, no can do with IE.

MISCELLANEOUS ADVANTAGES – Opera delivers a quick way to record any notes that you may wish to keyboard in when browsing, a dictionary that you can open to define a word you've highlighted and a readily accessible way to translate any word, sentence, paragraph or page into one of several languages. You can also receive the increasingly popular RSS feeds, and enjoy the benefit of a separate page that appears when downloading a file, a feature giving you more knowledge of and control over the process.

The biggest knock against Opera might be its weak marketing. It has not come close to matching the market share gains recently enjoyed by Firefox at the expense of IE. Though I have nothing against Firefox – and if you aren't enticed by Opera, in the interests of moving away from Microsoft, I'd encourage you to use it - Opera remains the better browser, given my head to head evaluation.

Opera can be obtained at no cost, with the proviso that you are exposed to a couple of Ads by Google at the top. For me, this poses no problem whatsoever. Purchasing a license will remove that business and get you tech support to boot. But, whether getting it as a freebie or buying it outright, give Opera a shot. I believe you'll be glad you did, gaining an improved web experience and doing your good deed in reducing Microsoft's long standing and dysfunctional dominance in the realm of browser software.


Blogger Rob Merrill said...

Now, Microsoft is calling FireFox Spyware. Nice. See my post on it, if you like:

Thursday, March 24, 2005 3:27:00 PM  

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