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Another is the menu button that lives up in the top-left edge of the browser instead of being a standard 3-line hamburger menu on the right, like those in current versions of all other major browsers. Also, in Opera the browser doesn't close when you close the last tab. Firefox offers an option for this, but like the rest, when you close that last tab, the Firefox browser is shut down by default. Two interface features missing in Opera, but present in Firefox and Edge, are a reading mode and a social sharing button.

For today's webpages cluttered with ads and other jumbles of content like auto-play videos and pop-over on-page ads, I consider a reading mode essential. The same can be said for easy sharing to social networks—one of the primary activities on today's Web. Opera handles bookmarks differently from the competition, too.

Although the Speed Dial is sort of a bookmark feature, the actual bookmark feature shows a grid of thumbnails for all your bookmarked sites. You can go to town creating as many folders and subfolders as you like, and of course the browser imports bookmarks from the other major browsers. Opera's newish video pop-out tool lets you play video in a separate desktop window—perfect for watching PCMag's daily Random Access video show. When a video is playing on a page, you'll see a little double-boxed arrow; tap this, and the video will detach and play in a resizable window on the desktop.

The on-page video still plays, in case you want to see it on the page. Unfortunately, pop-out didn't work for live streaming Facebook video.

Perhaps the most distinctive part of the Opera interface, Speed Dial is at least as convenient and customizable as the home screen of a smartphone: You can add tiles, combine them in groups, and drag them where you want them. One thing you can't do, unfortunately, is change the page's search box provider, Google—heck, even Chrome lets you Bing-ify the browser's new tab page! Not only can Speed Dial tiles serve as big, touch-friendly links to sites, but you can also install Speed Dial Apps from Opera's Extensions gallery.

Things like weather, email, and news—the very things that make sense for the Windows Start menu's Live Tiles—are available for this browser's home page. One thing I wish were possible with Speed Dial is something most other browsers these days have—automatically generated tiles for your most visited sites. A newer Speed Dial capability is a news feed of current stories, like Edge offers.

You can check off topics of interest for some customization. Opera extensions don't require a browser restart, which I like.

The number of extensions you can choose from is limited compared with Chrome and Firefox's extensive catalogs, but the big ones most people would want—LastPass, Ghostery, AdBlock, and the like—are there, along with Opera's own VPN offering, SurfEasy , which Opera claims will be a free, included part of the browser in future releases.

Like Firefox and Chrome, Opera lets you dress up the browser's interface with Themes, but these are a far cry from the Opera themes of yesteryear. The current iterations only affect the background for your Speed Dial new-tab page. Previous versions of Opera Themes let you tweak everything, including interface objects like buttons and text.

Even Firefox and Chrome let you change the visuals behind the program borders. One unique capability Opera retains from its heyday is the mouse gesture. With these, you can maneuver around and among webpages with combinations of left and right clicks and swipes, saving you from having to move the pointer all the way up to an arrow. For example, you can open a new tab simply by holding the right mouse button down and swiping down.

You can also go back and forward in navigation by dragging left and right. The gestures work very quickly and can easily speed up your browsing if they become habits. Built-In Ad Blocking It's not on by default—you have to go in and turn it on in Settings—but Opera claims its built-in ad blocker not only de-clutters webpages, but speeds up browsing and reduces third-party tracking of your online perambulations.

As with most of these tools, you can set exception sites for which you don't want ads blocked I hope PCMag. When I tried the blocker, though, I still saw plenty of display ads: It turns out that Opera automatically unblocks several major sources of ads and doesn't allow you to block them. Nevertheless, clicking on the ad blocker's shield icon in the address bar indicated that 74 ads had been blocked. Unlike the popular AdBlock extension, Opera doesn't let you select ads you want blocked on a page.

As far as faster page loading, I didn't really notice it, though I was on a fast PC and connection. The same shield icon used by the built-in ad blocker includes a speed testing option. When I used this on PCMag. Operatic VPN If you browse the Web at a public Wi-Fi network, attackers can steal your data or direct you to bogus websites, and advertisers and government agencies can track you. These are just a couple of the security concerns that a VPN can protect you from, but a VPN can also spoof your location, unlocking geographically blocked content like that from Netflix or MLB.

The latest version of Opera has VPN capability built right in—the only browser that can make that claim. It's already in your browser, you just have to enable it in Settings. Once it's enabled, your VPN status appears just to the left of the address bar. It's super simple, but we would like it if Opera prompted you to enable the VPN after you install the browser. Opera's VPN, however, is entirely free, forever. It's a fantastic deal. You can install Opera on as many devices as you like and take advantage of VPN on each.

Most VPN services limit you to five simultaneous connections. Opera also offers a free, standalone VPN app for iPhone and Android, so your mobile devices can receive the same benefit. The interface is simple. You just click the VPN button, and a window appears where you can select from any of the service's five server locations: The default option simply chooses the fastest, best performing server, which is probably the closest to you.

We're glad to see China included in the list, but five locations is well below what we see in Editors' Choice winner Private Internet Access , which offers thousands of servers across hundreds of locations around the world.

NordVPN, another Editor's' Choice winner, has specialized servers for high-speed video streaming, access to the Tor anonymization network, and even P2P file sharing. Any data being sent from your computer by other apps is sent over the Internet normally. This does mean that some of your data is potentially exposed, but it protects the most important information. It also means that other applications, like video games or streaming video services outside your browser, won't be slowed down.

Speaking of slowing down, using a VPN usually means your Internet experience is degraded. We first looked at a scenario where you would connect to a very distant VPN server.

We used Ookla's Speedtest. It decreased download speeds by only 8. Finally, it only decreased upload speeds by just 6. If you use the default option, you're likely to be connected to a closer, faster server. To test this, we use the Speedof. Other VPN services tested in the percent range.

Opera VPN redeemed itself in the download test, where it reduced download speeds by only 1. It also has minimal impact on upload speeds, which it slowed by only 1.

We should note that we saw some unusual behavior when using the Opera VPN that make it hard to compare with the other services. But Opera's VPN is an excellent, easy to use, and free service.

It's a welcome addition to Opera, and we hope other browsers will follow the company's example of securing their users' data. Turbo Another unique Opera tool, for those who don't have fast broadband Internet connections, is Turbo Mode. It takes advantage of the same caching and page compression service used by Opera's popular mobile browser, Opera Mini. Note that Turbo doesn't help with encrypted sites like banking sites, which is probably for the best.

Syncing Like Firefox and Chrome, Opera can sync your browsing, including bookmarks, settings, history, open tabs, and passwords. One syncing option is missing, though: To enable syncing, you can tap the circular user icon at top right, and then you create and sign into an Opera account.

From the same user button, you can manually initiate a sync. The syncing is available on all of Opera's mobile browser apps, including Opera Mini. Look for more syncing in the future of this browser, though: Opera's webpage on syncing says, "More sync functionality is coming to mobile soon. Compatibility Since Opera is really now just Chrome underneath, it will play well with pretty much any site that Google's browser can handle. Unfortunately, some sites still report that it's not compatible.

For example, two bank sites I navigated to reported that my browser might not display the site correctly. Of course that's utter nonsense. One thing Opera does lack, however, is Chrome's and Edge's built-in support for Flash content. I know that the world is supposed to be moving away from Flash, but tell that to all the sites that still use it. The test should be taken with a grain of salt, in that it doesn't actually test whether the functions are correctly implemented, just that the browser acknowledges the function calls.

Performance Performance is most easily and repeatably measured by JavaScript benchmarks. Click here to take the trial. Only use this option to submit articles and reviews already published online. It should not be used to submit freelance work not already published. Login Subscribers Area Subscription Options. David DiChiera, opera powerhouse, dies. Ekaterina Sergeeva Carmen Photo: Albina Shagimuratova Violetta Photo: Links to over 50, opera reviews in a range of languages Links to CD and DVD reviews Schedule and casting information for over opera companies around the world, including a dedicated page for each company.

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Opera for computers is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content, speed-boosting Opera Turbo mode and more handy features, Opera has everything you need to do more on the web.4/5(K). Before , the season average included only ratings from late September through mid-April. Since , the numbers represent full-year . Our experts and community take a look at Opera VPN, to see if this VPN is right for you. Read through expert and user reviews of Opera VPN4/4.