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back to article Nokia N810 internet tablet

Nokia's approach for the N810 is pretty simple: phone screens are too small for decent web browsing, so surely a separate portable device that has a bigger screen and Wi-Fi connectivity is needed for serious portable web access. Nokia hasn't regarded size and weight as such restrictive factors. At 228g the metal-cased N810 …

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Bronze badge

"Set up is ball-bouncingly straightforward."

Surprisingly graphic metaphor.

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Jobs Halo

Awww...

It's like the BeIA only years later...

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Coat

iPhone - there, I've said it!

So, what I don't get is how something like this (and I've had a play on it) which has a pig of an operating system, is bulky, costs over £300 and is crippled to the point where you can't even make phone calls on it, will be regarded by most as OK?

Then on the other hand, we have the iPhone which is small, beautiful, has an amazing OS and is a pretty good phone too (but no 3G) gets hammered up-hill and down-dale!!

I appreciate that these are slightly different devices, but I can see nothing on this to make me want to "upgrade" my iPhone - in fact when I had a play on one of these it baffled me how a once great company like Nokia (remember the original Nokia Orange here in the UK? - awesome) could release a device like this with a straight face.

The iPhone might not be right for you (and that's ok) but if we're all hoping that at least it's gonna drag the overall quality of mobile devices up, I for one, am not seeing the evidence here.

Nokia: D- Must do better

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Jobs Horns

I'd take the eee

I had the option to try the N810 out for some days, but couldn't be farked. The somewhat chunkier eee suits my needs much better I thought. Eee + Huawei E220 = perfect on the go surfpad.

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N800 also worth considering

I got an N800 just after Christmas, which for the record lacks the Keyboard, GPS and built-in memory but has two SDHC slots and runs the same version of Maemo. It's a fantastic device, and with properly formatted video files does fantastically well. Which is just as well, since that's what I use it for mostly! ;)

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Paris Hilton

Re: "Set up is ball-bouncingly straightforward."

"Surprisingly graphic metaphor."

I thought so too, especially in relation to the setup of an internet device(!). Nice looking piece of kit, just a pity I can't afford one at the moment :-(

Paris, 'cos she probably knows how easy ball-bouncing is.

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Paris Hilton

Nokia ph..erm pda

So this is from Nokia, the mobile people?

A PDA with no SIM slot. Surely they'd have been better to leave out the GPS and make it a phone as well?

I suppose the next version will have a SIM slot as well and Nokia will have doubled revenue from the same idea... just like everyone else.

Hopefully MWg will bring something out to fill the gap, Flame II anyone?

Paris, coz she's not all there either.

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micro usb

"Downsides? We're sure Nokia has its reasons for fitting the N810 with a Micro USB port and Mini SD slot rather the more common Mini USB and plain SDHC slot"

that one (the usb one at least) shouldn't really raise eyebrows... after all mobile phone manufacturers agreed on using micro usb for charging/connectivity in all future models some time ago

(http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/mobilephones/0,39050603,62032493,00.htm)

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Unhappy

Lack of a Sim card?

Ok, I'll grant you that having a micro sd would be nice but how about if it was also a cell phone?

Sure its not going to fit in your pocket. But paired with a bluetooth headset you can have the phone in your briefcase/backpack/purse/coat pocket/etc ... and still receive calls.

Definitely a potential Crackberry killer and iPhone killer.

I had to settle for the E90, not a bad phone, but would have loved it if the N810 was a cell phone too.

Sad face because Nokia didn't take the N810 to the next level.

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Unhappy

if it were also a phone..

..it would be exactly what I am looking for to replace mine.

Shame really.

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Discount there too

I think http://www.darkcompass.com/nokiadiscountcoupon.htm has 15% off too.

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I like it

does it remind anyone else of an updated Psion Series 5/5MX?

gary

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so this aint actually a phone?

great - yet another pocket filling, niche non-filling device.

Did convergence take a pause during the creation of this thing?

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Sometimes...

I suspect the Register is using us in some sort of social experiment, just to check how quickly some of these phrases pop up in everyday speak.

He says typing this on his lappy, using his mobe as a modem...

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Anonymous Coward

Comparison between the N810 and N800

Both these machines have the same screen and the same processor. The main differences seem to be in the method of storage, the slide out keyboard and the GPS as well as a slight difference in size. It may or may not also be worth mentioning that the speakers are mounted on the side on the N810, but are facing the front on the N800. This could possibly make a difference in the quality of the sound. The position of the webcam can also be changed on the N800. This isn't the case on the N810.

Both machines are capable of running OS2008, so anything that can be run on the N810 can be run on the N800. In theory once SDHC cards reach their maximum level of capacity you could have an N800 with 64GB worth of storage with the two SDHC slots. I would imagine that the maximum in the N810 would be somewhat lower.

I'm not sure why they bothered including the GPS myself, especially when a lot of Nokia's own GPS enabled phones seem to have such a dismal level of performance when it comes to actually locating itself (my own N95 for example seems to take an eternity to find where I am). How good is the GPS on the N810? Wouldn't it been better to get rid of this and just have a smaller machine or more storage space instead?

The one problem I have had with the N800 so far is removing the battery, which proved more than a little difficult. I wish they'd done something similar to what HTC had done with my smart phone: a small ribbon was attached to the phone underneath the battery and the end was left dangling out the side of the battery once it was fitted, so all I had to do was tug on the ribbon to remove the battery once I'd removed the cover. Is this process difficult in the N810 too?

One final thing: I believe that the N800 is actually cheaper than the N810, so unless you absolutely want the GPS or the slide out keyboard then you would probably be better of buying an N800 instead, especially when you have to fork out even more to get the full advantage of the GPS.

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SIM card

Shame. I'd consider this if it had a SIM hole, but will wait for the Sony Experia instead.

PS: LOL @ Robert Grant.

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Linux

You forgot to mention it is Linux

Nice review. I have the older n800 (no keyboard, no GPS, two SD slots) and it is the most useful gadget I have.

But you forgot to mention a key point - that the OS is Linux-based and, with a bit of guidance from maemo.org, you can do almost anything you want with it, for instance running perl scripts from the command line.

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ah but..

The major problem with the Nokia N810 is - the Asus EEE Pc. The Eee PC is cheaper and more pc-alike (that's assuming you can get hold of one, of course).

And this coming from an N800 owner. It was a superb device when I bought it - and it still is - but for all the Eee offers for less money (albeit in a bigger form factor), it's getting harder to justify the Nokia.

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Linux

No SIM!

So. I love my n800. I pair with my Nokia 6500 for 3g when I'm not near a wifi connection. With a wifi connection I use the n800 for making phone calls over SIP, but it works equally well with skype.

Adding a SIM slot would have significantly increased the cost. OK so a GSM modem is dirt-cheap to add, but you've got to factor in the cost of adding the additional required security software for sim access, the significantly increased testing costs (both in-house and FCC-type approval). And do you go gsm or cmda? umts or hsdpa? mobile tech progresses very quickly. By leaving it out nokia have cut the cost of the device and don't have to build different versions for different markets. Just compare the cost of the n810 to the HTC tytn 2, another gps smartphone device with a keyboard. The tytn is 50% more expensive, with a lesser quality screen.

It horses-for-courses. I use my n800 primarily for browsing and reading ebooks. The browsing experience blows the iPhone out of the water due to the higher resolution screen, and for the same reason ebooks are great.

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Coat

Is that a Nokia logo? Then it must be a phone...

It's hard to see past the Nokia logo isn't it? Think of this as a mobile linux PC with excellent wi-fi, built in bluetooth and a thriving development community and all of a sudden it doesn't seem like so much of a lame duck.

Python? Check. Perl? Check. Want apache running on it? No problem. Hell you can even get Ruby on Rails on the NiT and throw metasploit on it for a lovely little pentest device you can chuck in your backpack - or fit comfortably on the inside pocket of a suit jacket.

Did I mention the imminent arrival of Google Gears?

Think outside the "phone" pigeonhole.

/mine's the one with the N800 in the pocket, and a 3G phone in the other.

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Gold badge

Re: Comparison between the N810 and N800

The GPS in the 6110 Navigator is brilliant. The N95 GPS is widely regarded as being rather rubbish.

Don't generalise about GPS implementations in Nokia phones, they don't all use the same chipsets.

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not including a "phone" is a good idea imho ...

I carry my mobile almost everywhere, while I don't need everywhere GPS or a Internet device. It's a add on to a phone, not a replacement, while the Iphone is really a replacement for your current phone I find that still quite bulky as *phone*.

While some people prefer the bigger EEE I find the small form factor of the N800/N810 the main reason to tuck it away in my backpack or in the car - so it's nearby when I need it, but in my pocket I have a small mobile with one mission: call and provide 3G.

And bonus is that if the tablet get flat on battery's I still can call :)

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Anonymous Coward

Review points

The on off button is in a strange place - Nokia say it is designed to be left on so this button should rarely be used.

The lack of reset button - the system has a lifeguard process which reboots the systen if it has hung, it would be quite hard to get into a situation where you need to take the battery out.

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and more...

I have an n800 - had it for a year or so now, and it has come on in leaps and bounds with each new firmware release. I mainly use it for portable IM (there's a version of pidgin that runs well on it - the full-screen virtual keyboard is excellent once you get used to it) - and ebook reading - using FBReader and Evince (FBReader used to be all I needed, but they seem to have reduced pdf compatibility - though there is a pdf reader in the standard build, I prefer a 3rd party app). If you can afford the n810, I would definitely go for that, mainly due to the hardware keyboard, but now that it has been superseded, the n800 should be coming down in price. For an inquisitive geek, there's no better gadget.

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Ball-Bouncingly..

I detect a Blackadder reference.

In other news; it's a UMPC by Nokia. You, I and the world+dog already has a mobile so what-the-hey if it doesn't act like a phone.

Only questions are -

1) Can you pair it with a mobile and use the mobile as a modem?

2) Can you install a more Linuxy Linux on it? (Gentoo, Debian etc)

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Anonymous Coward

...."not including a phone"....

If you carry your phone everywhere, and are happy with it, you may as well get a ipod Touch for the main selling point of this pricey Nokia thing.

Pretty much flawless internet support, and the landscape onscreen keyboard is surprisingly fast once you get used to it.

If you need anymore than internet access you may as well get a EEE, or Blackberry if its all about business.

Can't think of a open niche this thing is meant to fill really.

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tz
Alert

Reset, and iPhone

Holding the power switch for 5-10 seconds will reset the n810.

Tell me on the iPhone how I can download anything, much less a podcast MP3 directly into the media player archive? My Nokia makes this easy, so I never have to return to the mothership to change the smallest thing.

I've also placed VoIP calls on the Nokia, though it wasn't intended for that.

The iPhone is a browser OR a phone OR a media player, and sometimes lets you move data across applications. The Nokia is a brower AND a media player AND a gps mapper...

The iPhone is nice, but it would be far nicer if they opened it up officially and fully.

I've already ported a half dozen programs I occasionally use on my laptop to the Nokia and found its USB port has a host mode so I can do ethernet, flash drives, and a few other things - probably even manage an iPod. Apple destroyed many iPhones that had non-approved software in their last update.

If you like what the iPhone does - as it is today and nothing else - it is a very nice device. If you need an expandable swiss-army-knife, the Nokia is better.

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Silver badge

Connecting it...

Does the N810 still require access to a Windows machine to perform software upgrades and the like? Nokia's lack of a cross-platform desktop app for their open-source doohicky put me off the N800.

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Nokia vs. Apple

I think I'd take this over an iPod touch. Mainly because you should be able to plug in an external keyboard to the N810.

As for comparisons to the iPhone, they may have very similar initial costs, but at least in the US, the iPhone is going to cost you an extra $1440 over two years. Not for nothing, but still, its expensive.

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Flame

I love this concept

...that all you need to support cellular data is a SIM slot.

Actually you need lots of things:

i) a SIM slot

ii) a bunch of radios (at least the GSM ones, probably UMTS ones too, and probably on a few frequencies, too)

iii) some antennae (see ii)

iv) if you're running Linux, another processor to run the signalling

v) A signalling stack (very expensive to licence and implement)

vi) regulatory approval from every country you're going to sell the thing in

This is going to cost you a lot. It will substantially increase your BoM and development costs on something that you may only sell a few thousand of. Are you going to bother? When everyone already has a phone anyway? Of course you're bloody not.

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Re: ...."not including a phone"....

The iPod Touch doesn't have as high of a resolution 800x480 or as large 4.1" of a screen. The Touch doesn't have a user replaceable battery, upgradeable memory or bluetooth, Flash 9, or support USB OTG. i.e. I can connect an external hard drive, keyboard, camera directly to the N800/N810. Also the N810 has a stylus keyboard, finger keyboard and a slide out hardware keyboard.

You're right "Can't think of a open niche this thing is meant to fill really."

The Touch is a music/video player with web access. The N800/N810 is a portable micro computer.

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Jobs Halo

the Touch

If this thing had the multi-touch interface of my ipod touch, I'd be all over it. I do like the slightly smaller size of the touch, but the biggest draw in the magnification of websites is so damned easy and useful. I really can't imagine "mobile" browsing without it. I use my touch as a mobile web device before a music player for the most part, since I'm in wifi range pretty well everywhere I spend any time at. Plus the little bugger is light as hell too.

Note: Not a iFanboy. I actually hate most of Apple's over priced crap.

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Paris Hilton

I have a nokia 800

How many people reading the article didn't pick up on the fact that Nokia didn't intend this to be a phone? Why? Maybe it's because S60 (uck!) is too entrenched? Maybe because it avoids having to do many regional variants? Maybe because they want you to buy a phone with bluetooth to act as mobile data gateway?

I've never found a smartphone to be any good, TBH, either too big and bulky, or if usefully compact then is too small to have an adequate display - the N800's 800x480 display makes my Zaurus's 3.5" vga display seem a bit, well, stingy!

I also have zaurus 3100, & palm t3. I use the Zaurus for experimenting with Android and hacking TomTom to run on it!

The Palm is still in use as a PIM - *nothing* beats datebook5 (well, datebook6 does).

The N800 gets the most use

- the bright clear hi-res screen makes it fabulous for mobile web surfing, reading eBooks etc.

- the built in webcam works nicely with googletalk, I can video chat (when I want to be a sad geek) with my brother in california

- with USB host or bluetooth I can connect a nano keyboard if I wanted to enter lots of text

- with bluetooth (PAN) or wifi I can connect via any phone or any hotspot

- stereo speakers make it useful as a media player, built-in radio is a bonus; SDHC card can carry a hell of a lot of files!

- can play radio and TV streams - BBC News 24 live works well (but don't tell TV Licensing!)

paris - because she needs people to RTFA for her too.

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Anonymous Coward

Let's not discount the OQO Model 01+

My missus recently insisted we go on holiday.

Faced with the prospect of a week in a foreign country without email and web, I hastily looked for solutions and saw Expansys selling the 2005-released OQO Model 01+ for 400quid (it's now just over £300 as b-stock).

The specs? slightly larger than the Nokia810 (but only slightly), 1ghz processor, 512mb RAM, 30GB hd...full XP Pro install (I'm a Mac man, but I can take a bit of 'doze punishment when required).

So, it's something similar in size, with just as many features (oh, more storage space by far...), running any app I want rather than the App's they want to give you (I'm also a daily Linux user, so please walk away from the attacks on that front).

I'd recommend the OQO over this, or indeed any laptop you were thinking of buying when taking pure portability into account...and that includes the oversized, underspec'd EEEEEEEEpc.

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Silver badge

Re: Connecting it....

As far as I know you can reflash it under Linux. And keep in mind that you are essentially buying a full featured computer. As far as I heared it even has a shell.

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Thank god no SIM

Thank god there is no GSM or UMTS radio in it. I hate those machines where you need to sign a contract with a company tracking every move you make.

Neither GSM nor UMTS provide affordable Internet connection.

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Linux

To all the iPhoneys

You really don't get it.

When mummy lets your shiny little toy talk to real Bluetooth peripherals (no HID is a dealbreaker), or lets you install real programs rather than just ones she's vetted (that she's going to allow *any day now*!) or even lets you write your own programs to do more than she wants to let you with it, we'll talk.

Until then, you have a shiny pebble. I have a portable computer running Linux, with a full word processor, real Bluetooth stack, and access to vi, perl, and any other tools I need. And when Nokia updates the OS, my computer isn't a brick because I've used it for something other than what Nokia intended.

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Maybe people think it's a phone because ...

On the Nokia site http://www.nokia.co.uk/A4630128 it's listed under "phones" and the page has a section called "Get more from your phone with Nokia accessories".

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Alert

N810 stylus

Big, thick, chunky, and fits firmly in its slot? My god, people, read what you write!

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Jobs Horns

Horses For Courses

I have a N800 and, for most N800 owners, the N810 doesn't offer a great deal more than the N800, except for a built-in keyboard - something that was on the feature wishlist since the N770. That's because the N800 is a very nice bit of kit to start with.

I have to chuckle at comments bemoaning the fact that the device isn't a phone, doesn't have a built-in SIM slot, is too "clunky" for a phone, has less features than a notebook, and doesn't have a multi-touch screen. These are all correct statements and why the N800/810 nicely fills a niche that the iPhone, iPod Touch, EEE, N95, and other devices can't cover entirely.

The N810 has the same screen resoution as the EEE, but on a pocket-sized device (it'll fit in a jeans pocket without much of a bulge, not something that can be said of the EEE). The screen is widescreen (unlike iPhone or Touch), and is of a size where full-screen viewing of content - web or video - is comfortable.

It can connect to any bluetooth-enabled phone to communicate over GPRS or 3G. This means I can carry around a tiny phone that isn't shaped like a brick, much less hold the aforementioned brick up to my ear. It also means I don't have to ditch my existing phone or have a separate SIM/modem setup. How often do you not have your phone with you anyway?

The review neglects to mention that the N810 has a built-in kickstand. Sat on a train and plane and want your hands free? No problem. Also, the slide-out keyboard is handy and non-instrusive. Ever tried typing anything of length into an iPhone?

The killer feature for me is the fact it runs Linux (most similar to Debian) and I can install, run, and even write applications with minimal fuss, or even my own Perl or Python-based scripts.

Ultimately, I wouldn't slate this device just because it doesn't have one or more features that another device does have. It fits well into the niche of being a truly pocket-sized UMPC with excellent Internet usability. It doesn't try to be a phone or a notebook, which is why it does what it does very well with minimal compromise.

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Linux

More Grunt == Less Battrey Life

Garry Byrne: The OQO 01+, although a nice device, is nearly twice as thick as the N810 and weighs nerly twice as much. The only thing the OQO has over the N810 is more storage out of the box and more poke in the CPU department - both coming at the cost of greatly decreased battery life. I'd only recommend a Windows UMPC is you *really* must run Windows apps.

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Works for me

"So, what I don't get is how something like this [...] will be regarded by most as OK?"

Because for those people, it's perfect.

I don't want a phone. I already have a perfectly good one of those, it cost me nothing except a contract (which I'm no longer tied to), it does exactly what I need (voice calls and some texts), is very small, has been dropped often, usually on concrete, and when it does, eventually, shuffle off this mortal coil, it will get replaced by a similarly basic model. If I get tired of my current network I can change it (contract permitting). I can take it anywhere I need to have a phone without worrying unduly that I might break my expensive gadget, or get sand in it, or something.

Nor do I want a "small PC". The Eee is certainly coolness in a small box, but it's not small enough to fit in a pocket, which means I'd *never* have it with me anywhere I didn't have access to a full-size laptop or desktop PC anyway. That puts it firmly in the "cool but pointless" category for my needs. My old Psion S5 fell into disuse for the same reason, just a wee bit bit too big for a trouser pocket. If I need access to full-size PC resources, I'll find a hotspot and use SSH to get to some.

I definitely don't want an iPhone. Sorry fanbois! It's just not for me. :) I'd be afraid to take it to some places, where it might get broken, stolen, dropped or otherwise damaged. With a separate phone and an N810, no problem, take the cheap phone, leave the spendy N810 at home. Then there's the question of software: yes, I want to install software, maybe even write some of my own. No, I don't want to have to hack my device to do it, or spend money on the SDK version that allows me to run my crap on a real device and not just an emulator.

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Eee for mee

Well, it would be cheaper. Nothing against the Nokia, though, but I don't really like typing at 45degrees... :-)

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Anonymous Coward

If only it had a proper calendar

Since the series came out, I've been waiting for it to have a proper calendar application built-in, one which works without the Net and syncs with other thingybobs with relative ease. Time management should be standard on a product of this caliber.

The moment its available, I'm going shopping! Until then, its a tempting system but no good for me.

Nokia product management: hope you're listening!

-Citizen B

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