Pros / Opera lets you pin icons to toolbars and its homepage to get you to your favorite websites fast.
Cons / It doesn’t have parental controls.
Verdict / Even though it isn’t compatible with some older websites, Opera is a secure, fast and feature-rich internet browser worth your consideration.
Opera is one of the oldest web browsers currently available. It runs on the Google Chromium system, meaning it uses the base, open-source program of Google Chrome but tweaks it a bit to add its own features. Opera is compatible across every platform and device, and while it’s not the most popular desktop or mobile browser out there, we were impressed with its features and security options. The program’s source code is also open for public use, which means you can improve and customize it with unique tools and features if you understand how to program.
This web browser has fast launch and page load times. In fact, it is only a few milliseconds slower than the fastest internet browser we tested, Mozilla Firefox. Once Opera is up and running, it can navigate between webpages at average speeds.
Opera has a clean interface but is laid out a little differently than other web browsers, so it may take some time to get used to. The browser has a sidebar where you can pin shortcuts to your favorite websites as well as frequently used settings menus, so you can just click to quickly open them. However, if you prefer, you can adjust the browser settings to hide this sidebar and navigate using traditional menus and toolbars. You can also pin app shortcuts that open email services and chat windows so you don’t have to open the programs separately. Opera has one-click bookmarking and tab stacks, which means you can drag-and-drop open tabs to rearrange them.
Most sites “sniff” the browser your using so they can properly format the page content. However, many sites, especially old, outdated pages, block Opera entirely, which means you may not be able to access some webpages when you use this browser.
Opera’s address bar doubles as a search bar, so you don’t have to navigate to a search engine to make a query. When you type in a search term, Opera takes you to a list of Google search results. You can use voice commands to search and navigate the web, and both the desktop and mobile browser can read text to you. Also, Opera syncs across all the computers, smartphones and tablets you use it on, so setting changes you make, passwords you save and your browser history are available on all your devices.
However, Opera doesn’t come with parental controls. They aren’t a necessity, especially if you have antivirus software that includes them, but their inclusion would make the browser more family-friendly. Browsers that have parental controls let you block websites that have unsavory content you don’t want your children to see.
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 lets you erase all private data, including your browsing history and cookies. Security settings are customizable; for example, you can choose not to have the browser check each site you visit for security threats. However, doing so can leave your system vulnerable if you don’t have additional antivirus software installed on your computer.
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Opera is a good choice if you want to use the same browser on all your devices because it is compatible with smartphones, tablets and computers running all operating systems. It is well designed and has easy-to-use tools and good security options. In addition, it’s fast and has a sidebar where you can pin shortcuts to settings menus and sites you visit often.