Hands-on with Opera for Android and Windows 7 tablets

Opera devotees will be glad to hear that the browser is coming to tablets running Android and Windows 7

Opera devotees will be glad to hear that the browser is coming to tablets running Android and Windows 7, with the same features of its mobile software on other platforms.

I took a quick test drive of Opera on Samsung's Galaxy Tab at a pre-CES event Wednesday. The browser was in its alpha stage, but the main attractions were intact, including tabbed browsing and speed dial.

Unlike the slim tabs of desktop browsers, Opera uses big icons that pop up near the top of the screen when you tap the tab button. As for speed dial, I wish there were more than nine slots for your favorite Websites; the Galaxy Tab certainly had room.

Judging performance might not be fair in the software's early stages, but Opera wasn't as good at rendering pages as the stock Galaxy Tab browser. Scrolling too quickly down the page revealed patches of blank space. In general, scrolling and zooming was snappy, although text took a moment to render itself when zooming in or out.

Unlike the Opera Mini browser for smartphones, Opera Mobile on the client side, but server-side rendering, which processes Web pages remotely and sends compressed pages to the user for faster loading, could become available in the future.

Opera won't say when its tablet browser will be ready. An iPad browser is unlikely, sales manager Siddarth Chandrasekar said, because Apple doesn't allow access to all the APIs Opera would like to use.

Check out our complete coverage of CES 2011.

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Jared Newman

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