New Opera Browser Version 1,110 Percent Faster Than Last

A new Opera version arrived this week, with the slogan, “The fastest browser on earth.” And by some measures, that’s not an exaggeration. In my tests with the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, Opera indeed came out ahead of Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer by significant margins. And it outpaces its own previous version by a whopping 1,110 percent. This is all thanks to the Norwegian software house’s new Carakan JavaScript engine.

Speed isn’t the only new thing in the half-point upgrade: It now has a private browsing mode, like those in the current versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome. And a streamlined new interface leaves just one button atop the page, a big “O” that give you access to all the browser’s functions. Its still the only major Web browser with built-in Bittorent support and the ability to serve as well as consume Web content, with its Unite feature.

Opera also offers Turbo, which speeds up browsing through a cached proxy server and compression; Link, which syncs bookmarks, notes, and search history; and a clever new Recycle button, which lets you easily reopen closed tabs.

One area where the  browser didn’t outpace the competition, however, was in startup speed, where it was in the middle of the pack. The same held true for its memory consumption in my tests with 10 media-heavy Web sites loaded into tabs.

Though the browser passes the Web Standards Project’s Acid3 compatibility test with 100 percent, I’ve been running across a few misrendered sites, though no more than I’ve seen in Chrome. The multibrowser world we live in seems to mean that we’ll be stuck with minor inconsistencies, despite all the movement toward an universal set of Web standards.

For complete testing results and a slideshow, check out “Hands-On with the Supercharged Opera 10.50

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