Opera – One of the alternate browsers

posted by on 30th July 2006, at 5:26pm

For the first issue of RSBANDBInformer! last month I did a basic review of how to keep yourself safe online. One of the easiest tips I gave was to switch to a different browser, Firefox or Opera. This month I’ll be taking a look at Opera.

Opera is a lesser known browser but because of that there’s no reason to rule it out as an alternative to Internet Explorer. Opera is free. Prior to version 9.0 you had to pay to get a version that was not supported by ads. There are tons of features in this browser, almost too many. The many features in Opera are what initially turned me away from it. However once it’s configured in the way you like it’s not that hard to get used to.

While other browsers have some of these features, they do not have all of them. Some notable features in Opera 9 are Tabs, Memory usage, advanced content management, mouse gestures, the bit-torrent client, and widgets.

  • Tabbed browsing is something that we’ve all become familiar with. Opera does tabs just as Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 do. However when you mouse over a tab it will show you a thumbnail of what the screen in that tab is showing.
  • Another excellent plus of Opera is that it has very low memory usage. When you minimize the browser it conserves memory. For example prior to minimizing it was using 70MB of RAM, however after minimizing it went down to a mere 12MB. Excellent if you’re playing a Java based game in the background 😉
  • Content management in Opera lets the user have a greater amount of control. You can block individual images or ads, or simply turn off all images. Not only can you make these changes browser wide, they can be made to individual websites. So if you don’t like a certain website with flashy animations then you can disable the playing of swf files.
  • Mouse gestures are an interesting idea. Basically a mouse gesture is when you hold down a specific key or button and do something with the mouse. For example if you hold your right mouse button down and move the mouse up and down, you will reload the page. Another interesting one is to hold the right mouse button and roll the wheel. This will allow you to change tabs. I’d have to say this is one of my favourite features in Opera. You can see more of them on the opera site.
  • Okay, Opera has a bit-torrent client built in. This seems to work ok for downloading video files and such that have a torrent associated with them. As we all know torrents can either be used for legal or illegal activity. We hope that you’ll use torrents for legal downloads. This seems like an ok feature but most people I know have a torrent client that they use already. This is a fairly stripped down client. You’d be better off going with utorrent or azureus for a bit torrent client.
  • Widgets are new in Opera 9. Widgets are tiny applications that run from within the browser. We’ve all seen programs like Mac
  • An interesting widget that you start out with in Opera is the trash can. Basically the trash can keeps a history of all tabs that were closed and where you have been. Using the trash can you can move to any of these tabs that have been closed. This widget is definitely useful.

So with all of that said I hope that I have provided an alternative to Internet Explorer. I am still using Firefox primarily but I may switch when Opera 10 comes out.

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