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Gallery: Dress rehearsal for Opera 10 beta

Opera 10 beta introduces a new skin, visual tabs, a new compression technology (Opera Turbo) for faster browsing on slow connections, automatic updating and BitTorrent support, among other features.
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By Andy Smith on
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1 of 7 Andy Smith/ZDNet
Opera 10 beta is the latest incarnation of a browser that currently lags in sixth place in terms of market share, according to Net Applications. With just 0.72 percent, it trails Internet Explorer (65.5 percent), Firefox (22.5 percent), Safari (8.43 percent), Chrome (1.8 percent) and Netscape (0.74 percent). Charles Mclellan from ZDNet.co.uk leads a tour of the browser.

The new version, released on June 3, is based on the company's Presto 2.2 rendering engine, and introduces a new skin by UK designer Jon Hicks, visual tabs, a new compression technology (Opera Turbo) for faster browsing on slow connections, automatic updating and BitTorrent support, among other features.

Credit: Opera screenshots

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Like the alpha version, Opera 10 beta scores 100/100 on The Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, which mainly tests a browser's suitability for running 'Web 2.0' dynamic applications. Internet Explorer 8, by comparison, scores a miserable 20/100.

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In addition to a conventional tabbed interface, Opera 10 beta offers Visual Tabs: double-clicking on or pulling down the bar just below the tabs brings up neat thumbnail previews. Clicking and dragging the bar resizes the thumbnails if you're short of screen space (on a netbook, for example).

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Opera's Turbo technology boosts browsing speeds over limited-bandwidth connections by compressing network traffic. It won't be appropriate on a fast connection, but if you're at a public hot-spot with a slow Wi-Fi connection, server-side compression via Opera Turbo could make a difference.

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Speed Dial, which provides a grid of thumbnails for your favourite web sites when a new tab is opened, is now customisable in Opera 10 beta. You now can have anything from a 2x2 grid to a 5x5 grid of favourites (the default is 3x3), set a background image or hide the Speed Dial altogether.

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Opera 10 beta has a well-featured built-in email client, accessible from a sidebar on the left-hand side of the browser window. The other standard sidebar-hosted panels are Bookmarks, Widgets, Notes, Transfers, History and Contacts.

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On our testbed 3.2GHz Core i7 PC running Windows 7 RC, Opera 10 beta shows an improvement on the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark over the current stable version (9.64). However, it's still well behind Chrome 2.0 and Safari 4 Beta.

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