I picked up Opera around version 19 or 20 (I think) because I wanted to try something else but I don't trust Google enough to start using Chrome, it's also a matter of principle (a bit). The first start was an instant hit: it could easily import favorites from both Internet Explorer (which I used sporadically) and SeaMonkey (which is still my 2nd browser). Both without any problems.
A lot of stuff got added over time and I think it's impressive. Take the internal Ad blocker: I tested this against AdBlock pro and it's doing an excellent job! I have several friends who now fully rely on Opera to keep things out. And I noticed something: they're much more open to the idea that Opera might allow a few ads to slip through than an AdBlocker plugin. Simple reasoning really: "They gave us a free browser, so why shouldn't they try to make some money out of that?".
Not sure I fully agree with that idea (Opera also pushes some of their favorites forward I'm sure) but I do agree that they're really trying to work with their users instead of against them. For example: ever since I started using it (1 - 2 years ago) I've always had (roughly) the same interface. Eventually 1 extra icon appeared in the programs title bar (tab menu) but that's hardly intrusive. I still remember Firefox with its always changing interface (which is also why I stopped using it).
This VPN feature is just the next step in my opinion. I probably won't be using it myself, but I still think it's an awesome feature. Especially for those who might be in need for free speech options (protection).