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Opera power saving mode

Opera has introduced a new power saving mode that will be a major boon to those surfing on notebooks, and it's the first major browser to do so.

When switched on, the new mode – which has initially been brought to the developer version of the browser – aims to minimise power usage for Opera, allowing for much better laptop battery life when you're browsing on the go.

The company says it can prolong battery life by up to 50% compared to earlier versions of Opera and Google's rival browser Chrome. Of course, the user's mileage will vary according to all sorts of factors, such as their specific hardware, other apps which are running, and so forth – you may get less than this, or you could possibly achieve more…

How have these major battery savings been made? Power saving mode pulls off all sorts of tricks including reducing the activity in tabs open in the background, pausing unused plug-ins, tweaking video playback parameters, reducing frame rate to 30 fps, and various other optimisations including pausing animations of browser themes.

Minimal messing

So there's not too much here which will interfere with your actual browsing experience, although you will lose out a little here and there on things such as fancy animations and the smoothest possible video playback. Some compromises are of course inevitable.

When your laptop is unplugged from the mains, Opera will automatically show the battery icon top-right, and clicking this turns on power saving mode. The browser will also detect when the notebook's battery is low and will then actively suggest that power saving should be switched on.

The new developer version of Opera 39 has also introduced general tweaks to improve power usage all round, even without power saving mode being switched on, with some parts of the browser code being simplified, and animated themes having been further optimised.

Anything which helps us get an extra hour (or possibly more) of browsing the web away from the power socket is of course very welcome. Opera also observed that its new integrated ad blocker can considerably reduce memory consumption and thus add to battery longevity as well.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).