Google Chrome. It’s the king of the browsers. It dominates the market, and it’s the most popular browser in existence. So there’s Chrome, then there’s this underground browser called Opera. Opera is used by a small community of people who claim it’s better than Chrome. It’s sort of like the small amount of people who use (and swear by) Linux over Windows. After years of ignoring it, I figured “how can I ignore something that I’ve never tried?” I knew it was time to try it.

Opera_2015_icon.svgWhy Do People Love Opera?

Opera is a popular browser for one reason: optimization. Chrome is a RESOURCE HOG. It eats RAM and battery life. Opera is much more efficient. It’s famous for it’s light RAM usage, and very well known for it’s low power consumption and power saving mode, which can be enabled when you’re on battery life.

Opera is based off of Chrome, so it features the same back end to give you the same lightning fast speed you’d experience in Chrome. You can think of the browser as a modified Chrome. While it’s based off of Chrome, it’s interface and UI is completely different.0294359a346f0d1ef1fefebf273c4061

The UI Is (Much) Cleaner

Opera takes tricks out of Microsoft Edge’s book – in a good way. It simply looks cleaner and more modern than Chrome. It has bold, big buttons, no gradients, and a sleek grey color scheme. Chrome has started to look dated, with it’s old buttons, gradients, and old school SSL lock icon (although, Chrome plans to fix this in the near future, with it already rolling out the Material Design update).

But Wait.. There’s More!

If you use Opera for iOS or Android, the mobile version ships with a data saver mode. The feature works by using a built in VPN, so not only will you have faster speeds, but you will save data. While not advertised, the feature also helps you to bypass router level wifi filters. This is especially useful if you are a student and your school’s wifi has an annoying filter on it.

Plugins? Opera (Sort Of) Has You Covered

Similar to Chrome, Opera offers plugins.. well.. a few of them. As I switched to Opera for a week, I began searching for all of my Chrome plugins, and I found one of them.. One of them out of 8 or 9. That’s a problem. Especially since some of my plugins (such as Google Hangouts and MightyText) are heavily used and relied on. The only plugin I was able to find was LastPass. That’s a major problem, and one of the main reasons Chrome is still my main browser.

There Is A Fix.. But Not Really

After my week of use, I love Opera! It’s lighting fast like Chrome, but it has a more modern UI and is much lighter on your computer’s resources. However, I need my Chrome plugins to function. I began searching for a solution: how to install Chrome plugins on Opera. I found a solution! Could it be? There was an Opera extension that claimed to allow you to install any Chrome plugin to Opera. It sounded too good to be true, and unfortunately it was. While the claim was true – you could technically install any Chrome plugin – not every Chrome plugin functioned as good as Chrome. With the Google Hangouts plugin, which I use daily, barely functioned in Opera. Instead of opening up nice pop ups like on Chrome, it opens a mini Opera window. It just isn’t integrated and it’s not functional enough for my needs.

So, Will I Switch To Opera?

After 1 week of only using Opera, I can safely say that I won’t be switching to it any time soon. Opera is a solid browser, but it just doesn’t offer the plugin functionality that I need. I will definitely use Opera when I need to conserve battery, though, because it’s darn good at resource management.

Is Opera For You?

Please don’t read this article and think Opera is trash. It’s certainly an amazing browser, and in fact, it’s now my secondary browser. If you don’t rely heavily on plugins, or if Opera offers all of the plugins you need, I would certainly recommend it to you. Especially if your laptop is light on RAM, or if you travel often and are using your laptop’s battery most of the time, Opera is for you.

Kevin Nether