This past Friday, web browser developer Opera announced that they had teamed up with respected theory crafting website Elitist Jerks to create a new browser. The Elitist Jerks browser, as it is titled, is designed to cater to the needs of the World of Warcraft online community, with an array of customized features, pre-selected options, and a sleek skin reminiscent of the site it's named for. The pitch interested me enough that I decided to put away my beloved Firefox for the weekend, and give Opera's Elitist Jerks browser a thorough test.
Obviously it would be somewhat insane to expect that this is an entirely new browser built from the ground up. At its core, the browser is Opera 9. So if you've got a strong aversion to that browser, you're not going to find anything here to redeem it. However, if you're ambivalent towards Opera, or if you've never even tried it, the Elitist Jerks browser is definitely worth checking out. It's got all the features we as consumers have come to expect from a browser over the last few years, along with the polish that Opera is known for.
The differences between the Elitist Jerks browser and vanilla Opera 9 fall primarily into the category of customization. The look and feel of the browser have been altered to conform to the look and feel of elitistjerks.com. Which, in fact, makes it difficult to tell where the browser ends and the website begins when viewing that site. It's a rather cool effect really.
Among the more useful things added to the Elitist Jerks browser is that a selection of World of Warcraft resources are available right out of the box. The default home page is, of course, Elitist Jerks. And when opening a new tab, the 'speed dial' (pictured above) links to sites such as MMO Champion, Blizzard's official WoW Community website, and World of Raids. RSS feeds have been included as well, so any time you've got the Elitist Jerks browser open, WoW.com updates will appear in the lower right hand corner of your screen to keep you informed of all the good stuff that goes on here. The browser also has a somewhat larger selection of WoW related websites waiting for you in the bookmarks. While I was a bit disappointed that my personal blog wasn't included in the Warlock subfolder, the selection and organization of sites is helpful and well rounded.
My biggest complaint about the browser was the built-in search bar's default settings. At install, Wowhead and both the North American and European Armories are available. Having both Armories in there was rather confusing, since there's no distinction made between the two of them when selecting which search service to use. It took me three or four minutes to even figure out what the difference between the two searches was. Then I had to spend a few minutes figuring out how to remove the EU search, since it's hardly relevant to me as a North American player. I also found it frustrating that they didn't include a standard search engine like Google or Yahoo in the default options. It's easy enough to add additional search engines, but I shouldn't have needed to. People who play World of Warcraft need to be able to look up recipes or get directions to their friend's house just as much as anybody else.
My complaints, though, are really just nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. Any new browser will always need a few tweaks on the user's end before it works just the way they want it to. The same way shoes always feel a little stiff until you've worn them in a bit. So if you haven't yet, I recommend giving Opera's Elitist Jerks browser a spin--particularly if you've never tried Opera 9.