opera turboOpera 11.1 is available for download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

One of the best features of Opera is the built-in Turbo mode that lets you browse the web faster even on slow connections. The feature can also help you save money when you are on a metered Internet connection, like that hotel room, where you have to pay per byte.

Let me explain. When you request a web page – say time.com – your browser will connect directly to the time.com servers to download all the images, text, and other associated files. However, in the case of Opera Turbo, the same request is routed to Opera servers – the web page is downloaded on Opera servers first, it is then compressed and served to you.

The content and layout of the page doesn’t change after compression though the quality of images is often reduced. But since your browser now has to download lesser number of bytes for the same web page, it will load a lot faster on your computer.

Opera Turbo with Google’s WebP

The Turbo mode has been part of Opera since version 10 but with the new 11.1 release, that’s due today, Opera servers are now using Google’s WebP image format, instead of JPEG, to compress images. As a result, the byte size of the compressed images is reduced even further without much degradation in the visual quality.

I ran a quick test comparing the size of these photographs as served through regular Opera, Opera Turbo (JPG) and new Opera Turbo with WebP based compression. See results:

Opera Turbo with WebP

The quality of compressed images is quite acceptable. In some cases the images compressed with WebP look better (or smoother) than the ones that have been compressed using JPEG.

And when every byte matters, the savings are obviously huge with Opera 11.1. The other innovative feature of Opera is Unite that turns your computer into a server with a click.