Opera is back. And is more alluring than ever. In the current sociopolitical climate the vikings at Opera ASA have thought out a wonderful solution for those who need to keep their convictions as private as possible. It's called Free VPN! Not only that, but the new Opera also comes with increased functionality and care for ergonomics.
I know that it sounds like I've already reached a conclusion, but the fact is that when it comes to web browsers, there are two things that excite me: improved accessibility and improved privacy. When a browser advances in both aspects, I cannot help but rave like a groupie.
It might be hard to believe, but, while VPN services usually come at a praemium, Opera has this feature for free and unlimited. While turned on, your traffic is encrypted and location unknown. This is perfect for accessing YouTube videos with sensitive topics while in Western Europe. It's also helpful for circumventing forum bans. Some might argue that Tor does the same thing. While that's true, Tor is to Opera like a snail is to a robust long ship.
There's also the issue of browsing convenience. As I inadvertently open up a dozen or so tabs during a session, switching between them can be rather annoying. Therefore, it's no wonder that these small features have caught my attention: Opera is able to pop up a video in a small window which stays on top of every window. This has essentially eliminated my compulsiveness with checking the YT tab every so often. The second one is the quick currency converter. Selecting text in a page will bring up two options: copy and search. But when you highlight a standard monetary value (i.e. price), Opera also shows the converted value with the two options. You may set conversion options in the settings. This eliminates the need to open a tab just to check an exchange rate.
Opera has improved the way it deals with bookmarks. Besides having a bookmark bar and using bookmark thumbnails, you can import bookmarks from any other browser when you launch Opera for the first time. You can also always synchronize bookmarks along with tabs and browsing history between devices if using an Opera account.
Speed and lightness have always been strong points in many Opera versions. We still have the Turbo feature, that compresses media allowing for lighter data usage. There's also a built-in ad blocker. No need to install a specific add-on, although there are plenty add-ons available for Opera. Notebook users will be pleased to know that the Battery Saver joins in this effort. You can switch on the Battery Saver manually, and you will also be prompted to do that when the battery level hits 20%. When on, Opera will cease all activities running on inactive tabs and also disable plug-ins you don't need.
- Free built-in VPN
- Ad blocking
- Cookie control
- Picture compression
- Battery Saver
- Account syncing
- Personalized news feed
- Tab previews
Coming from a heavy Firefox background, I confess that I've never been tempted to switch to anything else. However, Opera 44.0 hits on too many points for me to ignore it further. Even though security and performance are more important than bling bling, Opera managed to impress me in all three categories.