Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Month of Using Opera

About a month ago I announce my intention to move from Firefox to Opera as my standard browser on Desktop, Laptop and mobile phone. Here are some quick thoughts based on one months usage:




On the plus side:
-I still love the sleek clean user interface on the PC version.
-I love Speed Dial (nine pages of your choice that come up in panels on a start page)
-I love that it has so many useful built in features like the ability  to display multiple web pages side by side in panels.
- I love Opera link which allows me to synchronise my browsers across platforms.
- I love the server side compression which saves bandwidth on my phone and laptop.

On the downside:
- Opera can feel slow when loading a page. This could be deceptive because when you click a link it doesn't paint the screen until almost everything is downloaded and then it paints everything very quickly. I prefer a browser to incrementally paint the screen.
- Bugs

More about Bugs
On the last point I have to regretfully say that Opera is the most buggy browser I have ever used. Perhaps I have hit an unfortunate spot in the development cycle (a few commenters on the forums suggest that the latest versions of Opera are less stable than before). I know also that Opera has put a lot of effort into porting their browser to the Iphone recently and this may have robbed development time from the other versions. Here is a list of the more serious bugs I have encountered in the last month:

Desktop version:
Latest release (last week) crashes to desktop at random moments.
Recent releases: text entry forms  often do not expand to accommodate more text until you refresh the page.

Mobile Version:
Many Google sites don't work properly or at all (Igoogle, Google Reader)
Impossible to post on websites or blogs - you can type your text into the form but it is lost when you try to submit.

This last error is an incredibly serious bug that is widely reported on the forums but is still not fixed. It really is a deal breaker for me and I have had to resort to using the Bolt browser on my phone in order to overcome it. Bolt also has server side compression and renders many pages (like Igoogle) exactly as you would see on a PC screen. This is not necessarily an advantage on a small screen phone - sometimes Opera does a better job of re-formatting pages for the small screen.

Overall Conclusion: I am currently in wait and see mode. I use Opera on my desktop and laptop (the Opera Turbo sever side compression is important to me when I tether my laptop to my phone) but I am using Bolt on my phone. If the more serious bugs are fixed soon I will probably stick with Opera but if not I will go browser shopping again.

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