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Review: Opera 10

Opera Software officially released Opera 10 (external link) last Tuesday, which features a refined visual interface, the Turbo compression technology, a customisable Speed Dial, and more. Now that I have been actively using the official Opera 10 release for about a week, I thought it was time for a quick review. If you are interested in the specifics of Opera 10's new features, please check out my earlier blog post about Opera 10 Beta.

Overall, there are three specific things I really like about Opera 10: the new skin, the inline spell checker, and the updated Opera Dragonfly developer toolset.

Screenshot of Opera's new interface on Mac OS X1.2 Opera's new Mac OS X skin.

Screenshot of Opera's background tab notification1.2 Notification when a background tab has loaded.

The new skin - designed by Jon Hicks (external link) - feels much more refined and complete than Opera's previous skins. Both the Windows and Mac skins are sleek and beautiful. Originally, I did not entirely like the new skin, but I was won over by its subtle visual-interface improvements that really make for a better browsing experience. For example, when a background tab has completely finished loading, a little blue dot will appear in the right-hand corner of the tab. Now I don't have to switch back and forth between tabs to see if one of them has finished loading! The new skin finally makes Opera feel pretty, not just powerful.

People familiar with web browsers know that Opera boasts tons more features than other browsers. However, Opera has always lacked inline spell checking, even though Firefox and Safari have long had this feature. It was always the one exception to Opera-has-that or Opera-does-that-better. Well, Opera 10 finally has an inline spell checker!

Screenshot of the improved Opera Dragonfly1.2 Improved Opera Dragonfly.

Opera Dragonfly finally feels like a stable and useful piece of software. The new features - editing the DOM and inspecting HTTP headers - are nice, but I am glad that Dragonfly simply works properly. First, it automatically selects the focused tab, which you previously had to do manually. Second, settings and information are better laid out in a no-nonsense way. Third, it properly loads the DOM and does not crash. With Opera 9, I always really wanted to use Opera Dragonfly, but I experienced so many problems and nuisances that I simply gave up. Now I feel much less compelled to open Firefox in order to use Firebug. Hurrah! Now Dragonfly just needs a real console...

I also quite like Opera's advertising campaign about Opera 10 and Opera Turbo, featuring Odd and Even Johansen. The campaign consists of a blog (external link), a Twitter account (external link), and Youtube videos (external link) about two Norwegian brothers attempting to show the world how great Opera Turbo is. It pokes fun at Scandinavian stereotypes, such as packing things flat, potatoes and fish, and weird sayings.

All in all, Opera is a fantastic web browser and, in my opinion, is leaps ahead of the competition. I only discussed three of my favourite improvements, but Opera 10 boasts tons of other features as well! I recommend that you download Opera 10 (external link) and give it a try!