Friday, February 19, 2010

Opera 10 – essential for netbooks


One of the great things my wife got me for Christmas is a Compaq Mini – the little system that’s made me a believer in netbooks.

I love my Compaq (a.k.a. the MicroLappy). The battery lasts four to six hours (depending on how hard I’m pushing it), the 10.2” screen is nice and clear, it’s light enough to drag anywhere and makes that laptop I use at work seem hot, heavy and almost impractical.

There is one major drawback to the netbook – that CPU is a bit slow, so I’m always interested in applications that don’t bog it down too much. I’ve been a Firefox fan for years and still am, but I’ve noticed a problem that is particularly bad when I’m surfing blogs – pages with a lot of graphics, weird scripts and etc. just slow the browser down to a crawl.

So I gave the new version of Opera a try. That’s always been a fast browser, but Opera 10 came with a feature that feels like it was just made for netbooks – turbo browsing. What is Opera Turbo? Simply put, it’s a concept that has been around for a long time – graphics are compressed significantly and that results in less CPU time and memory spent on rendering images.

Opera Turbo can be switched on and off with ease and that’s handy as there are times when those compressed graphics look terrible. Still, that feature doesn’t leave my Intel Atom processor puffing like a fat man running up a hill and I’m very glad of it.

Yes, there are some other things that are nifty about Opera. The ability to easily share files, stream music and such with friends through the Opera Unite application is very convenient. I also like the “speed dial” that allows fast access to frequently visited sites, but Google Chrome has something very similar to that so that’s not a terribly unique feature. Another feature that’s useful is visual tabs – something that allows the user to view tabs as thumbnails instead of just text.

Still, what sets Opera apart is really Opera Turbo. Opera is all about speed and the browser simply excels in that area. I still prefer Mozilla Firefox to any browser out there, but Opera is simply outstanding for use on netbooks.

And, of course, Opera 10 is absolutely free.

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