PROS / Opera boasts cutting-edge multimodal features and competitive navigation speeds.
CONS / The browser is missing helpful features such as parental controls, and it has compatibility issues with some sites.
VERDICT / Despite some compatibility conflicts, Opera is a secure, fast and feature-rich internet browser worthy of your consideration.
Having started back in 1995, Opera stands as the second-oldest web browser currently in use. This software runs on a Google Chromium system. It is compatible across every platform and device. Opera is not the most popular desktop or mobile browser out there, but we were impressed with its features and security options, and found it to be one of the top internet browsers in its own right. Opera is the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner for the best internet browsers.
Opera's multimodal interaction is just one of its many cutting-edge features. The browser also boasts competitive launch and page load times and comprehensive user support. Such well-rounded capabilities would make Opera a first-rate internet browser, if not for some hindering compatibility issues.
Speed & Compatibility
Like most internet browsers, Opera claims to be the fastest browser available, and on most accounts it delivers highly competitive speeds. Opera took 2.2 seconds to boot up our site initially. Over 10 cold startups, the time decreased to an average of 1.8 seconds. The time it took to visit another site was 3.3 seconds. That impressive time beat out most of its competitors.
Browser speed doesn't matter much if the browser is difficult to navigate. The latest version of Opera delivers a refined user interface, boasting a clean, featherweight design that emphasizes the content and not the browser. It may take you a bit of time to learn how to take advantage of the browser's full capabilities, but overall, Opera is intuitive and easy to use once you become familiar with how it works.
The compatibility of Opera across the net takes a hit based on each site's browser sniffing. Much of the internet is outdated and "sniffs" for particular browsers in an attempt to format the site for the browser. Because these sites are outdated, they may still block Opera entirely.
Opera is known for debuting original browsing features that later become standard on most internet browsers, including tabbed browsing and built-in search. Opera continues to stay ahead of the curve with a new integrated mail client, one-click bookmarking and tab stacks. That third feature is a tab-grouping mechanism that allows you to stack related tabs vertically rather than horizontally.
Opera delivers versatile multi-modal interaction. For instance, it is possible to control virtually every aspect of the browser with a keyboard. You can use voice commands to navigate the web and even have the browser read text to you. Opera also supports mouse gestures, which are similar to keyboard shortcuts but use the mouse. These features alone make Opera a more accessible browser for a wider range of users than many of its competitors.
Opera is robust in terms of features, and is noticeably lacking only one feature that we looked for in internet browsers: parental controls. They aren't a necessity, but the inclusion of the controls would make the browser more apt for family households.
Opera has security features that check websites for malware and phishing schemes. The browser also uses advanced encryption when you visit a secure website and provides the option of erasing all private data, such as browsing history and cookies. This is convenient if you are browsing on a shared computer.
The internet browser allows you to customize your security settings. For example, you can turn off the option to have the browser check each site you visit for security threats, even though doing so can leave your system vulnerable.
Help & Support
You can purchase a premium support package that comes with email support. However, there is enough online information that you probably won't need the supplementary support. Online you find tutorials, FAQs and a knowledgebase. Opera's web forums are also a valuable resource; in addition to submitting bugs and known issues, you can ask questions and interact with other users.
Opera's compatibility issues are likely to be the deciding factor for many prospective users, but more and more websites become compatible with the browser each day. Moreover, while Opera does not have the firm backing of a major corporation like our other top-ranked internet browsers, it manages to stay on par with the competition with its robust feature set, advanced security protocols and rapid speeds.