First, I want to praise Opera for adding RSS aggregation to their recent browser versions. I really enjoy having my feeds directly available as I work.
But second, I want to criticize the interface for being quite confusing, and sometimes buggy as well! I have yet to upgrade from version 8.01, so some of my frustration may not apply to the latest -- but I'll bet it does. I've had it working two different ways so far. Luckily I prefer the second, because I don't even remember how I set up the first approach and can't get it back.
Getting down to it -- why should newsfeeds be tied to "Mail"? Getting my first feed set to display was a major frustration and I'm not sure even now which of my experiments actually got it working. I do recall that I had to set up some Mail functionality to do this, and that doesn't seem at all right. Almost a heavy-handed way to push their mail app at people.
But complaints aside, now that I do have it working, one simple Panel toggle shows me recent feeds right in my browser. Any time I want a change of pace in my day, there they are -- and that's a whole lot easier than firing up a new aggregator application.
Oh yes, did I also say it was buggy? One of several oddities I cannot yet sort is that the newsfeeds panel sometimes crosses two different feeds and accounts for them as the same. For example, currently I see feeds the from DaveN and Matt Cutts as if they were one and the same person. Of course, maybe they are, right?
Joking aside, it is quite unsettling to have my Panel say there's a new note from Matt Cutts -- and then I open up to an SEO observation from Dave. Their two writing styles are also quite distinct, and anyone who knows these guys appreciates that they often look at search from viewpoints that are as far apart as you can get.
The long and short of it -- native RSS in the browser is a great idea, but the execution here is not on a par with the rest of what Opera offers. And when anything is too hard to use, then the majority of people don't use it. I hope they get it right soon. With Longhorn integrating RSS into the operating system, the whole issue may dry up in a year or two, but it can't hurt to be there first.
As soon as I have the time to risk a browser upgrade (you never know what's going to happen) I'll let people know how I see the current version's implementation of RSS and post some tips.