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Summary:

While Opera is not the world’s most popular web browser, it has a loyal group of fans and I use it occasionally because it is lightweight and fast. The new version 9.6 of Opera is downloadable now. and I’ve been testing it out. It has a […]

While Opera is not the world’s most popular web browser, it has a loyal group of fans and I use it occasionally because it is lightweight and fast. The new version 9.6 of Opera is downloadable now. and I’ve been testing it out. It has a few convenient new features, and remains snappy, although it won’t replace Firefox as my browser of choice.

I downloaded the new version in less than two minutes, and when I clicked to launch it, I remembered that Opera has always been very fast to launch, which it still is. (A lot of people carry it on USB thumb drives.) Here are some of the notable new features.

One of the most prominent new features in version 9.6 of Opera is called Speed Dial. You can view screenshots of how it works here. Speed Dial reminds me of the way the Google Chrome browser keeps track of sites that you visit and aggregates them in one place. The difference here is that you click on a Plus button next to your tabs and aggregate sites that you specify into Speed Dial containers. The result is that you can get to your favorite sites quickly, from one location.

Version 9.6 of Opera also has a feature that can strip away a real annoyance: RSS feeds for which you can’t see a preview. In the new version of the browser, you can see previews before you subscribe (hat tip to Download Squad for alerting me to this feature).

Like Google Chrome, the new version of Opera lets you perform searches directly from the address bar. You can type a search term in and look for it on Google with one click, or you can type a search term and look for it within sites stored in your browsing history list–a nice addition.

There are also new skins you can use with Opera now to customize the appearance of the browser, similar to the themes you can apply in Firefox. Speaking of Firefox, though, the more I look at updates like this one, or Google Chrome itself, the more I’m reminded of how much I get out of Firefox because of the many extensions I use with it. That problem alone keeps it a significant challenge for new browsers or updates to browsers to make me want to switch from Firefox.

  1. Speed Dial was introduced in version 9.20, in early 2007. Same with the address bar search, introduced in version 5 and made editable on version 6.

    http://www.markschenk.com/opera/history.html

    This article makes it sound like Opera picked up features from Google Chrome. The reality is that Opera users have been enjoying these and a lot more (mouse gestures, page zoom, fit to width, small screen rendering, mail and IRC client to name a few) for years.

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  2. As the previous poster already stated, all those features have been around for a long time…including a ton of skins.

    What’s new is the ability to sync favorites and other stuff between computers (haven’t tried it yet), optimized email options, and, oh yes, blazing speed! These are my casual observations after upgrading to the latest version…can’t wait to see what else is different.

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  3. @Prof Julie and Nico–good points that the Speed Dial features and address bar searching were in place. When you download the new version, the welcome page plays these up as though they are brand new, and Opera isn’t my primary browser although I always remain interested in what they are doing. The skins have been expanded, though, and the RSS feed previewing is definitely brand new. I continue to look to new versions of Opera mainly for preservation of speed in it–which is definitely there in the new version.

    Sam

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  4. Where did you get your facts from Samuel? If you had used Opera before you would have known that at least Speed Dial has been in every release of Opera since 9.20.

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  5. Sticking with Firefox.

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  6. And sync! I can make custom searches in a flash and sync ‘em. I can jot notes and sync ‘em.

    I can have my bookmarks AND the speed dial synched.

    Simpler, faster more lightweight than GNotes and the fatal FF profile suicide sync attempts

    DK

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  7. Samuel, Obviously the article shows that you are either a newbie to Opera or have not been following Opera at all. What about Opera Link? I am surprised it is not mentioned at all. It just looks like an article published, hearing that Opera released new version and in a hurry, compared it to Firefox and Chrome.

    Opera has a lot more features. Opera Link is now enhanced. “Paste and Go” is one of the most useful ones. Also, Opera allows you to save Notes (which isn’t copied yet into Chrome). Allows customizing your Speed Dial options unlike Chrome,where if you visit an unwanted site, it sticks up as a sore thumb as a big thumbnail unless you visit 9 more sites.

    Overall, I am not impressed when the title says, “New Version Adds Conveniences” when most of the things mentioned are conveniences which have been around for a long long time.

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