CNET Editors' review
The bottom line: Extensions, competitive page-load times, solid features, and good support for "future Web" technologies make Opera 12 an excellent browser, but it's treading water where it used to lead.
The second-oldest browser currently in use, Opera debuted way back in 1994 and continues to attract attention. Its feature-phone version claims more than 160 million users worldwide. While desktop Opera isn't quite as heavily used, it has developed a reputation as a leader on feature development, and can hold its own against the big four.
Opera covers the basics with tabbed browsing, mouse-over previews, a customizable search bar, advanced bookmarking tools, and simple integration with e-mail and chat clients. Mouse-gesture support, keyboard shortcuts, and drag-and-drop functionality round out the essentials.
Installing Opera is a fast and short process, taking less than 2 minutes. Many of Opera's built-in features require creating a MyOpera account, but the browser will only prompt you to do so when you use them for the first time -- it's not required to browse.
Tap the Options button on the first install screen to reveal configuration tweaks. Besides changing the browser's default language and install path, you can also install for just the currently signed-on user, or choose to install Opera directly to an external device. It's a great, simple way to create a portable version of Opera for a USB key.
Opera's interface keeps the same look that debuted in Opera 11, with a condensed menu button in the upper left corner, tabs on top, and a translucent status bar on the bottom that hosts buttons to reveal Opera's Panels, and to activate Link and Turbo. The bottom right corner of the status bar sports a dedicated zoom slider.
The navigation bar and its associated buttons and extension icons are a uniform height, keeping the browser's chrome, its interface, to a minimum. It's a polished look, and one that most browsers offer today. The search box, located in its default space to the right of the location bar, can be removed. That and further interface customizations can be made by right-clicking on the navigation bar and selecting customize.
The influence of the radical interface changes that Google Chrome introduced in 2008 can be seen here, from tabs on top to the extension icons, yet Opera's personality does still come through enough to have a different vibe and feel from Chrome. A red Opera "O" logo button in the upper left corner reveals options and menus, while a wrench icon on the New Tab page allows you to customize Opera's forward-thinking Speed Dial.
Features and support
The five major browsers have been liberally borrowing features and innovations from each other for years, yet Opera has developed a reputation for showcasing some of the more interesting browser developments first. That's fallen off a bit in version 12, which showcases more catching up than trailblazing leadership.
Quirky features such as Widgets, Unite, and Voice have been killed off, which means that there's less bloat in the browser. But no doubt that those executions were performed also because of a lack of user interest.
Opera 12's hardware acceleration, which is when the browser uses the graphics processor to render animations faster and more smoothly, is still a work in progress. It's in the browser, but you must manually activate it for now.
This isn't to say that Opera can't compare, because it holds up well. It's just not quite as innovative in this version as in the past. You still get tab stacks, a way to group tabs and cut down on tab clutter; tab pinning; and Opera Link for syncing Bookmarks, Speed Dial, Notes, and passwords to other instances of Opera, including Opera Mobile and Opera Mini. Sadly, there's still no tab sync in Opera.
There's Growl and multitouch trackpad support on Macs, support for some HTML5 including next-generation video and audio codec WebM, geolocation compatibility, Web Workers, App Cache, and Web fonts. The Web Open Font Format (WOFF), which Opera co-sponsored, hasn't yet been added, although Opera expects it will be soon. And Opera 12 has added HTML5 support for controlling local media hardware, such as Webcams, from Web sites.
One of Opera's lesser-known features is its integrated mail client. It's a reasonable alternative to Outlook, offering many similar features. It can handle importing mailbox files from Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Netscape, and Eudora, supports POP3 and IMAP, and quickly synced with Gmail when we added our account.
There are other features in Opera, including tab previews, newsgroups support, a built-in session manager, and a fantastic array of customizations that rival Firefox. Of all the browsers out there, Opera ships with a massive feature set and is an excellent choice for users who want something fast and robust but just a bit old-school right out of the box. However, aside from the integrated mail support, much of what Opera offers can now be found elsewhere.
Full benchmarks will be added here as they are completed, but preliminary results indicate that Opera 12's page-load times remain comparable to its competitors on publicly available benchmark tests. Short version: It's an extremely fast browser. And although rumors persist about Web site incompatibility, we've yet to encounter any major site that Opera had problems with.
Opera is in firm grip of the fifth-place slot in the race to be the world's most-used browser. It doesn't have the backing of a major corporation like Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, or Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and it lacks the massive, open developer's community of Mozilla's Firefox. What it does have are a fantastic combination of speed and built-in services, and a mobile base that's enormous.
What's missing is a compelling argument for adoption beyond a dislike of the other four. As much as we enjoy our time using Opera, it doesn't surpass the competition -- it only matches it.
From Opera Software:
Opera is a Web browser that offers lots of features to let you take advantage of today's Web. Popular features: Opera Turbo speeds up browsing on slow connections. Opera Link can synchronize bookmarks with other computers and mobile phones.
What's new in this version: version 12.13 fixed issues where Opera gets internal communication errors on Facebook, no webpages load on startup, if Opera is disconnected from the Internet, and added a stand-alone update-checker, as part of a planned upgrade of the auto-update system.
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All versions:4.3 stars
out of 3,808 votes
Current version:2.7 stars
out of 3 votes
My rating:Write review
Results 1-3 of 3
"Browser crashes upon startup"
Version: Opera 12.13
None (browser immediately crashes on startup, so I can't assess how it runs)
Browser immediately crashes on startup
With update 12.13, the browser immediately crashes on startup. So I really can't provide any kind of review except: stay away from this update.
My fix, which worked for me, was to uninstall then reload version 12.12. I once again have the Opera browser that I love. This will be a good test to see how Opera handles this. When Firefox rolled out their disastrous version 4.0, they handled the situation so poorly that I dumped their browser and never came back. Let's hope Opera does better.
Stay away from update 12.13 and we'll see what happens with update 12.14.
"Usually excellent, but some serious stability issues"
Version: Opera 12.13
Opera is typically an excellent browser, and has been my favourite for the best part of 10 years. The tab system is well thought out, particularly the ability to stack tabs simply by dragging one on top of another. The mouse gestures are also very intuitive, and unlike other browsers, this feature is an integral part of the program (and has been for years) and doesn't require an extension. The program is updated regularly, so that any possible security loopholes or other problems are usually fixed quickly.
Some serious stability issues have occurred with this release. Many people (including myself) have reported that the browser often crashes upon start-up, leaving it impossible to use. It might be that this is related to the auto-update feature - some people fixed this by disabling the auto-update function, while others (including myself) have had to remove the auto-update application completely.
Other people have also reported that this problem may be related to widgets or HTML5 coding on some sites. Users have also reported that Opera crashed while using websites such as Youtube and Yahoo Mail.
In all the years I've used Opera, I've never had any such problems so it's very disappointing that this has suddenly started to happen now.
Normally, I would give Opera 5 stars as (in my opinion) its the best browser out there. As far as version 12.13 goes however, I would highly recommend waiting for the NEXT release, as hopefully these stability issues will be resolved.
"Best Browser I ever used and I have used them all *****"
Version: Opera 12.13
It is fast and has more than you will ever need right out of the box.If you want more like Extensions it has those also.It has never crashed on me or give me any problems in over a year.I use it for everything including online shopping and no problems.
Most people need to learn a little about it and all it has to offer for about a week or so to get use to it.After you get things set and customized like you want them you are good to go.Another thing is many people have never heard of this GREAT BROWSER because it is not advertised as much like the others here on CNET.For instance IE is built into Windows so everybody has heard of it.If you use Google services and other Downloads they try to get you to Download Google Chrome only.Firefox was good a few years ago and what I used.Don't care for it anymore.
If I only had one Browser to use this would be it and it is the only one I do use.This Browser is just as good or better than the other Top 2 above it here on CNET.I think it is better and not all those Rapid Share Updates.The only Extensions I use are AdBlock,WOT and YouTube Adblocker.I would highly recommend this and have to friends.They love it and is their Main Browser now.
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