…and no, I’m not joking, either. The Opera browser is an amazing piece of software; it’s achieved what Mozilla could only dream of — true portability. While Gecko was notable in that it would render largely the same on Mac, Linux, or Windows, Opera takes it a step further and ensures compatibility over a wide variety of devices, including phones, other embedded products, and even the Nintendo Wii. If you visit jaredwsmith.com on a Wii, you’ll see that everything — including the dropdown menus — renders with complete fidelity. This is amazing to me; devices other than Windows PCs used to be a pain to develop for.
It’s not only the portability of Opera that makes it stand out — it’s also the fact that it does not suffer from the performance problems that absolutely dog Firefox in the latest releases. Firefox constantly likes to get on this kick of consuming 100% CPU every five seconds, stalling my typing and general progress in the application. I don’t have many extensions installed, either, so that makes it difficult. Opera just seems snappier, too, and it gives detail about page activity that no browser has given since the days of oldschool Netscape.
It has its downsides — there are far too many Web developers who ignore its presence, so some portions of the Web (particularly those that are not standards-compliant) appear funky. Luckily, though, people have finally embraced the W3C’s standard versus Microsoft’s standard, so this problem is alleviating itself. Opera’s UI also needs some toning down (though that’s easy by switching to the native OS theme).
It’s a great browser. I’d recommend giving it a shot.