Why Opera?

Bruce Lawson asked the Twitterverse for a show of hands of Opera users, and their whys, but if not, let him know the reasons. At the moment, I’m an Opera user.

I say at the moment because my browser of choice seems to change on a bi-monthly basis. Being a Mac user, with the whole Mobile Me set-up and an iPhone, there’s a certain amont of comfort in using Safari. As such, I usually flirt with another browser for a few weeks, then fall back to old faithful.

So what sets me off looking to swap browsers?

My line of work has me using a browser for a large percentage of the day. Developing we sites means I usually have Safari and Firefox open all day. While I like Firefox and it’s rane of plug-ins, Firebug being the obvious one, I feel the app is bloated and sluggish. Having more than 8 tabs open for extended periods on a regular basis, and my MacBook Pro starts to stutter when tab flipping. Same with Safari, you have a few tabs open and a few Flash movies and it really crawls.

Ok, so Firefox for work, how about Camino for home? Camino’s nice for a mac user. Built on the Gecko rendering engine, but with a heavily mac-ified user experience, Camino offers a good, mac-like, browsing experience, but there’s a few bits and pieces I don’t like. No way to easily auto-sync bookmarks, slows down like Firefox when lots of active tabs etc. There’s even more choice with browsers now than ever before, with Flock, Omniweb and iCab offering further alternatives, but I’m not going to numb your brain.

Enter Opera. I’ve been aware of Opera since the very first Mac versions around version 5. The first version were not up to much on the Mac, and I never used it for much, not even paying attetion to how sites looked in it. However, as I got more and more conscious of standards based browsing, I dutifully downloaded every version and started tweaking, revelling in how much better Opera was getting.

Recently, this has been amplified by our lead nerd at JP74 being a massive Opera fan. The browser, that is. I respect Nathan’s opinion on many things (except some rather daft allegations he made saying the PC UX was more consistent than a Mac’s) but anything internet related, he’s usually spot on.

Earlier this year, I got an Asus EEE 701. One of the first things I did was install Ubuntu and look for a decent browser. Firefox on an Asus was alright, but the small screen was getting cramped. I tried the latest 9.5 versions of Opera and found the 90% view size was fantastic. This made me start trying the desktop versions on my Mac when browsing out of work.

Before my iPhone, I had a Sony Ericcson K800i, which is a great phone. I was using the Opera Mini browser on it, and tho So now, in my quest for speedy, stable browsing, ths last two months I’ve been using Opera. And this was before meeting the mighty Chris Mills and 1:80 scale punk-epitomised Bruce Lawton! Discussing Opera with Chris gave me a few insights into the company and their views and goals, which I found admirable and honourable.

However, there are a few things I don’t like about Opera. Obviously, the user-interface on the Mac is a travesty. It looks like it was abandoned at lunch time. I reverted to the default Opera skin straight away. Secondly, I really dislike a browser that’s trying to do too much. Mail, RSS readers, Bittorrent… nice idea, but I just want a browser.

With email, I think a stand alone mail app would be a better way to go, like the separation of Firefox and Thunderbird. I don’t need Mail on the Asus as I use Google Mail, just a browser.

The RSS feeds could be passed to a HTML set-up like Google Reader within the My.Opera area of the site, which would possibly encourage a greater user sign-up rate and offer the chance to discover other users RSS feeds etc.

Bittorrent? Transmission. Nuff said.

But seriously, if you’re sick of Firefox bloat, slow Safari tab swapping or just want a change, give Opera a go. It’s compliant, fast, very stable, and a friend of mine, Gareth, who breaks browsers for fun, says Opera’s code rocks. Nerds like Nathan and Gareth reassure me and my current browser choice!