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Opera 6.02 for Mac review: Opera 6.02 for Mac

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The Good Tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking; very configurable; good security.

The Bad Banner advertising in the free version; rendering not always accurate; JavaScript errors; interface quirks.

The Bottom Line Opera is a bit faster than Internet Explorer, and it offers solid features, but it's slower than both Safari and Camino.

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6.5 Overall

After Apple produced a Safari beta, Opera Software threatened to abandon the Mac platform. It eventually withdrew the threat and produced Opera 6.0, a good effort in some respects, although problems with the interface, rendering, and JavaScript mar the browsing experience. There are also banner ads in the toolbar unless you cough up $39 for an ad-free version.

Nevertheless, we like several of Opera's interface goodies, such as the Google search field with a pull-down menu that lets you select other search engines. We also like search fields specifically for Amazon and eBay. A handy zoom field in the toolbar lets you instantly enlarge or shrink the display of the Web page. Like Safari, Opera lets you easily turn pop-up blocking on and off (because you may need to allow pop-ups on certain Web sites). Opera also offers user customization similar to the levels found in Internet Explorer, and it includes good security features, including a cookie manager. Opera supports tabbed browsing, but unfortunately, when you Control+click a Web link, you can't open it in a new tab, as you can in other browsers; you only get to open a new window.

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The free version of Opera includes a banner ad in the toolbar, but it also has a handy zoom menu and search fields for Google, eBay, and Amazon.

On Mac OS X, Opera is definitely not the "fastest browser on earth," as the company claims. In our informal testing, it rendered pages slightly faster than Internet Explorer (though it took longer to launch), but it couldn't touch the speed of Safari and Camino. Opera 6.0.2 is also not as good at executing JavaScript as Camino or Internet Explorer. We were disappointed with the poor rendering job of some Web pages, which produced overlapping elements, columns that were too narrow, and too much empty space at the edges. If you have version 6.0, it's worth upgrading to 6.0.2, which fixed our problems with Opera crashing.

You won't find much Mac-specific help for Opera--the Help menu commands take you to Web-based support, which we found thin and PC-centric. You can get e-mail support if you register.

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