Updated: At 2:50 p.m. we added links for Opera 10 beta 3 with Unite, and added a statement from Opera about the crash logging feature.

Opera 10 beta 3 was released Wednesday for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. With a strong European following, the preview version has been able to keep this popular alternative browser competitive by offering page rendering quality comparable to Google Chrome, while offering a robust list of features.

Opera 10 beta 3 offers more tab and toolbar control. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Opera is touting the stability and performance enhancements in the third beta, but in casual testing it appeared to have the slowest JavaScript engine when compared with Chrome and Firefox. Opera notched 3237.4ms in the SunSpider JavaScript test, while Firefox completed the test in 1142.4ms and Chrome was more than twice as fast as that, reaching 508.2ms.

However, JavaScript speed isn't everything, and Opera's built-in feature set offers much to users who like a strong out-of-the-box experience. There are far more options available now for tweaks tabs. Through the menu bar View and then Customize, you can move your visual tab bar to the sides of the browser as well as the top or bottom. You can also toggle showing only favicons or text, or force the tab bar to use multiple row, or just a single one. These options are available for all toolbars in Opera, making toolbar customization more streamlined than in other browser.

Opera 10's crash recovery window. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

There's now a crash logger that Opera says will make the browser "rock-solid," although what that meant was unclear at press time. Opera spokesman Thomas Ford has since clarified the statement, saying that, "It works like the logger that Windows has when a program stops responding. We can more easily identify and then remediate the root cause of crashes." It is not a sandboxing feature, so crashes that originate in one tab will still affect the entire browser.

Users on slower or dial-up connections should see performance improvements in Opera Turbo, too, although they didn't specify what those changes were or what kind of benchmarks users should expect. If you're seeing dramatically better numbers for Opera Turbo on a slow connection, let me know in the comments.

Notably, Opera Unite remains in alpha development and continues to be a separate entity from the main build of the Opera 10 beta. There's no word on how soon integration will occur, although it is apparently planned for before the public release of Opera 10. Opera 10 beta 3 with Unite can be downloaded for Windows, Mac, and Linux.