Opera has just released version 10.10, today, and Firefox recently released version 3.6. Currently of the popular browsers, Chrome is the fastest, followed very, very closely by Opera, and Safari, with Firefox coming before Internet Explorer, but way back from the rest.
Chrome is fast, but the interface is different with its top line tabs and Omnibox combined search and browser address window. It takes getting use to, and I have not been using it, because it was not stable initially.
Internet Explorer is way behind in browser compatibility and speed, and is an after thought in my mind. When and if Microsoft ever gets up to W3C standards, decides to use web standards for determining box widths instead of their proprietary method, and passes the ACID3 test, I might consider it, but not before.
Safari is fast, and it looks nice, but they do this by pumping up the luminance or gamma of their colors from all the other web browser colors, so the browser colors look sharper. Unfortunately, I can't use their colors system for development when I'm building for all browsers. I'll leave the Safari browser to Mac Users.
Which brings us to Firefox and Opera. I use Firefox about 70% of the time, mostly because of its web development plugin tools. There are three plugins I recommend for web development: Aardvark, Firebug, and Web Developer. I use all three. This makes Firefox unique as no other browser has these tools. Consequently, it is my web development browser of choice. Yes it loads slow as molasses, but everything runs fine once its up. I had to wait until the Aardvark plugin was ready, but now I'm up and running on 3.6.
What's with 3.6? Firefox claims speed improvements in page loads, and it looks like this is true, it's much faster loading both pages and booting, but still doesn't seem up to the other fast browsers. Last release Firefox reached a 93 on the Acid 3 test, but rather jerkily. It now reaches 94 smoothly, still not 100. You now have type ahead in the address bar, which they call the "Awesome Bar." Just start typing the site name and possible sites are gradually filtered to give you the correct URL. This is a rip off of the Chrome Omnibox, but there search capability is limited compared to Chrome. You now have one click bookmarks by clicking the star in the "Awesome Bar" window, and there are bookmark tags, like Delicious. Type a tag in the "Awesome Bar" and all your tagged items URL populate. This does not yet synchronize with your other Firefox browsers. They now have a Private Browsing option you can toggle. I'm skeptical of this, as Google keeps a complete record of all your browsing and your searches in its database. For looks, they have 35,000 personas which changes the look of the browser, to me this is just fluff.
And now to my favorite browser, Opera with its new 10.10 release. Opera is fast, and looks great. Only about 2% of the population uses it, so there is very little problem with malware, or virus attacks. It's safe, secure, meets W3C standards, and passes ACID 3 quickly with flying colors. It's a great browser. If it had the Internet tools of Firefox, I'd never look back and use Opera full time.
With Version 10.10 Opera claims five things that you can only do in Opera: Application sharing of data with others, compress web pages to load pages faster for people with slow data connections, visual tabs where you see a thumbnail of the web page, in addition to the text tag of the tab like in other browsers; customize your web page thumbnails in the speed dial window, synchronize your tabs, bookmarks, and other data with your other Opera browsers over the Internet. This is like Delicious in its synchronizing. Opera also has integrated themes for looks, and an integrated Opera mail program, although I admit, I prefer Thunderbird at the moment.
If you're a die-hard Firefox user, you'll like the improved Firefox speed and tags with the Awesome bar. If your not into web development, I highly recommend you download Opera and give it a test drive, check out the speed, convenient surfing tools, and overall good looks. Change the appearance in tools->appearance, drag the tag bar down to see the visual tabs, and enjoy Opera.