Opera: Do we need a BitTorrent browser?

Opera released a 9.0 public beta version last week. The new and improved Opera browser now supports .torrent downloads. The question is: Do we really need BitTorrent support in a browser?

First a quick review of Opera‘s BitTorrent support:

Opening torrents
If you click on a .torrent file, a window pops up asking you where you want to save the file. The same window tells you that you’re about to share the file with other people (see pic).

opera start torrent

Strange is the fact that you can’t specify a default download folder, so you can disable this popup screen and start the download immediately.

memory usage
Opera is generally not using much memory and CPU. I was a ‘bit’ skeptical if this would be the same while downloading a torrent since most torrent clients use about 30.000K memory. And I must say I’m quite impressed. There was only a slight increase in memory usage, it went from 12.000 to 17.000k, way below torrent clients like azureus and bitcomet and just slightly higher than uTorrent “the lightweight client”.

preferences
There’s not much to configure, but two of the most vital configuration options are there. You can adjust the download and upload speed and you can specify the port Opera should use.

However, is you adjust the down/up speeds you will see that the categories are pretty broad (see pic).

opera speed

transferring
Transferring files goes fine, the downloads sometimes take a while to start, but that could be due to a slow tracker. There are some basic options to control the downloads (stop, resume and remove) that work ok.

opera transfer

shortcomings
It’s not my intention to diss Opera’s BitTorrent support, I know that this is just the start, and that they will probably improve it with every new release. But still…

There are a lot of configuration options and features missing. No DHT, no individual torrent preferences, no selective downloading, obviously no encryption, no RSS support, etcetera etcetera.

conclusion

Opera’s BitTorrent support is great for incidental users but useless for heavy users.

pro’s

- People who are unfamiliar with BitTorrent can download torrents. They don’t have to install anything and no specific knowledge is required.
– It doesn’t take much memory and CPU

con’s

- Configuration options are limited
– Feature support is limited

The con’s can and probably will be worked on. My main concern is the fact that when Opera shut’s down, the torrent stops. This is not very convenient since BitTorrent is often used for “large” files that often take a while to download.

This brings me to the title of this post: Do we need a BitTorrent browser?

Yes: For incidental users
No: for BitTorrent die-hards

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