Hands On: Opera Mini for the iPad, Opera Mobile for Android tablets

We just came back from Opera’s booth at Hall 1 where a crowd of people were hovering around, foaming from the mouth, waiting for a chance to get a crack at playing with Opera’s new browsers for tablets.

Opera was showing off Opera Mini for the iPad and that baby was flying. Thanks to their server side compression technology which takes a website you want to visit, renders it on a remote server, then compresses it by 90% before finally shooting it down to your device, web sites were loading lightning fast despite the terrible connectivity at Mobile World Congress. With Opera Mobile on the Galaxy Tab however things are a different story. It’s the full Opera browser, with support for HTML5 and even Flash video. Both of these browsers are coming “soon” and Opera was quick to mention that they have yet to submit Opera Mini for the iPad for approval into Apple’s App Store.

With over 100 million people using Opera’s browsers on their mobile devices in one way or another, this is only going to help increase their presence on mobile. Choice is always a good thing too, despite native browsers from both Google and Apple being slightly faster. Opera’s focus on their intuitive tabbed browsing UI, offering compression for when you’re in a tight situation (read: on EDGE instead of 3G), and the ability to sync bookmarks across all your Opera browsers, makes them stand out for hardcore web surfers out there.

We’ve yet to see how well the browser is going to be on Android 3.0, and don’t forget about the second generation iPad, due to be released at some point during the spring. The browser space on mobile, just like on the PC space a few years back, is starting to become diverse, competitive, and innovative. We all win because of that.

We all win in the end.

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