back to article Review: Apple iMac 21.5in late 2012

I'm a sitting behind a 2010 iMac. You know, it's one with the dodgy Seagate hard drives that Apple is replacing en masse. I must get this sorted soon, but it hasn't died ye—. Apple iMac 21.5in late 2012 Long time no see: Apple's late 2012 21.5in iMac Now I'm sitting behind a very late 2012 iMac. It's the super slim one …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When are they going to stop?

I use a DVD drive perhaps half a dozen times a year so it's no biggie to use an external one - especially as my Macbook Air also has no internal drive. I'm still surprised people buy physical media when you can just download it in seconds / stream it.

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Stop

Re: Slot-loading drives = worst invention ever?

You're not forced to use Apple branded USB drives, nor are you limited to DVD. It will quite happily talk to Samsung USB BlueRay drives for example (though you need third party software to play BD videos).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Slot-loading drives = worst invention ever?

Why oh why would anyone use a DVD disk these days when USB keys are typically faster and dirt cheap / quicker - or use one of the Dropbox style services - some people want to step forwards others are just stuck in the past. If we said to a client that we would 'post' it to them on a CD / DVD they would probably laugh / it could cost us business.

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Re: Slot-loading drives = worst invention ever?

@AC

I dunno, maybe because for a lot of things the cost and bandwidth of a couple of dozen DVDs through next-day-delivery post is faster than most broadband connections (and certainly so when you talk about USB 2 external media).

I'm asking for one very widespread and commonly used contemporary medium to be considered as standard, and you're telling me that because a couple of other different media (with different pros and cons) exist I should just lump it.

If I didn't believe that Apple have deprecated optical media to try and drive more traffic to their media content stores, I might be prepared to accept that the Horrendous Cost (oh, wait) of providing optical drives in their desktops was unreasonable. But trayloading optical drives cost the consumer about £10 at this point, so they'll cost Apple far less at volume purchasing rates. This whole "look at the sexy thin desktop" nonsense is a poor excuse for doing so, and I'd rather they at least be honest about why they want to get rid of the optical media interface on their machines even though most new releases across all popular entertainment media still see release on optical discs.

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Happy

Re: Slot-loading drives = worst invention ever?

Hang on a minute, Yeap you can actually buy another USB optical drive rather than pay over the odds for an apple superdrive... or spend the same amount and buy a bluray writer instead.

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Memory upgrades.

I read a review on one of the US Mac sites last week which said that on the 21.5" model there is a button or press stud in the recessed area by the power socket. Pressing this was supposed to allow access to the memory DIMMs. Sorry, don't remember which site.

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Re: Memory upgrades.

That's on the 27" model. The 21" model doesn't have that though.

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Re: Memory upgrades.

Comparing outside to inside of the machine, the ram is located about right about where the Apple logo is. SO what i can tell there is no easy way without tearing the whole machine apart. if you picked up the main logic board and put it straight in machine where that silver cover plate is, just to right is where ram would be.

http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/5g1FpUitd2c5USTg.huge

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Megaphone

Not impressed with your review.

Dear Bob,

Your review was painful to read. Please take a few minutes to actually read what you write. Don't like the wireless keyboard without the numeric pad, then don't select one when you order. The target market for this product is not the average Reg reader or computer geek. Their target market is none technical people who will select what they want upon ordering, and most likely stick with it until the machine needs replacing. But don't let that get in the way of a good snigger at the design. To those posters who question its green credentials, you really should read up on RoHS, and WEEE. It is not about how easy it is to take apart. It is all about the materials in it, and the reduction or elimination of dangerous chemicals and compounds.

For Apple these products are not the products that they want you modifying. The are just appliances, tools to do a job. Just in the same way you don't take your freezer to bits to "Upgrade" it. You buy it, use it and get a new one, when it not longer does what you think it should.

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Re: Not impressed with your review.

@DERK

If you're going to try and talk about "green credentials" and how green Apple are, perhaps you could explain how the Retina Display can be recycled when it's a display fused to a gorilla glass panel?

Thus far the only comments I've seen from other industry parties suggest that recycling such fused components is going to be a ballache. Same thing with repairing a motherboard with a faulty soldered-on DIMM - it may be doable, but it's not straightforward and the risk of nobbling the entire motherboard in the process is non-trivial.

I get that some people want to buy an appliance computer, and that's fair enough - you buy the tool for the job you want to do. However, Apple have been making some bad decisions lately, apparently in the pursuit of frontloaded consumer spending and built-in obsolescence to drive future sales, so I'm curious to see how the rest of the world responds to these issues.

That being said, I agree that Bob could've done more to check the grammar in his peice - I spotted several sentences where 1 or more words were missing, which is always frustrating.

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Re: Not impressed with your review. @ Captain Underpants

That's the second comment where you have mentioned soldered on DIMMs.

To avoid any possibility of FUD there is no iMac with soldered on DIMMs. Look at the iFixit teardown (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac+Intel+21.5-Inch+EMC+2544+Teardown/11936/3).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not impressed with your review.

"I agree that Bob could've done more to check the grammar in his peice"

And you could do the same with your spelling It's PIECE not peice.

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Re: Not impressed with your review.

@ Captain Underpants.

For a product to be classed as "Green" in the electronics industry, then it does not have to be fully recyclable. It must not contain 8 very nasty chemicals, and must have minimal quantities of a whole raft of others. The idea is stop some very toxic substances leaking out in landfill sites, and getting into the water supply. That is the RoHS directive, and the WEEE directive builds upon this.

I too am not enamoured with a glued together design, as repairs are certainly not easy or strait forward. But not impossible either. But as many have pointed out, Apple seem to have disregarded the service aspect in favour of stock turnover and greed.

The tone of Bobs "review" was quite honestly very immature and sounded like he'd made his mind up before he even started. I have no respect for such articles. I expect a review to be much more technical, and to list the pros and cons of a product. I could get a review like Bobs from any "Computer expert" in PC World on a Saturday afternoon.

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Gimp

Re: Not impressed with your review.

I quite liked the review, it went into the downsides of owning an iMac.

Following your criteria the review should read 'oooh, shiny' and receive 95%. And of course green credentials include how easy it is to take a computer apart into component pieces. The greenest computer of all is one which you can reuse and repair before recycling, it's not at all green to throw it away four years down the line so you can get the next iAppliance when you've realised that your new interest in Photoshop renders the 4Gb of onboard RAM worthless.

When it does finally comes to recycling computers then don't expect them to have the Official iAppliance (Late 2012) manual at hand so they know they need to get the Official iHeatGun to disassemble it as it's going down a conveyor belt in the back end of some developing country.

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Re: Not impressed with your review. @ Captain Underpants

@Mccp

Sorry, should've been clearer on that one - the soldered-on DIMMs are the first thing that come to mind when I think of Apple's overall lifecycle planning and resultant greenness (things like the non-user-replaceable battery for specious reasons, non-replaceable DIMMs, moving towards gorillaglass screens with fused-on displays) rather than the specifics of this iMac. At least this one doesn't have soldered on memory, but having to remove the entire display to get at the DIMM slots is still pretty bloody stupid.

This device is far from their worst offender in the current lineup but it's also a notable move away from previous designs which made it straightforward to perform upgrades to user-replaceable parts...

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FAIL

Re: Not impressed with your review.

"And you could do the same with your spelling It's PIECE not peice."

Yeah....about that. One person is pretending to be a journalist, and the other isn't, is he?

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Re: Not impressed with your review.

>perhaps you could explain how the Retina Display can be recycled when it's a display fused to a gorilla glass panel?

Probably mechanically- there are a fair few companies and universities boasting of having developed tools to separate the screen layers from each other, and there is no reason to think that separating parts from the glass is any harder than they from each other.

This isn't actually the chief problem for companies that recycle flat screen monitors- many monitors and TV that use cold cathode fluorescent lamps have yet to reach the end of their life, and the mercury present in the CCFLs is costly to make safe- it requires costly labour (wearing bulky protective suits) to remove the CCFLs.

If you want to separate components from batches of old products, it is actually preferable to have them glued rather than screwed- you can heat the whole batch, rather than pay someone to wield a screwdriver. Since the EU had been putting the onus on end-of-life disposal on manufactuers for over a decade, it isn't in their interests to make it difficult. Like any industrial process, it becomes more efficient if you are dealing with large quanitites of the same product- since Apple sell something in the region of 2 million iMacs a year, a sufficient quantity that dissembly lines and tools can be optimised for them, or at least an operative will have familiarity with them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not impressed with your review.

Yeah make it out of bamboo or whatever...

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Coat

Re: Not impressed with your review.

I have just checked. Here is the short list of consumer devices I own which I have never dismantled to either upgrade or repair.

MacAir

iPod

Samsung Mobile phone

iPhone

Samsung Television

"NoName" DVD player

VCR player

Sony media player

Sony picture frame

A whole shelf of HiFi equipment

refrigerator

freezer

oven

.... bored now .. that's what I can see from the sofa.

People, these are electronics devices and while you all are quick to be appalled at lack of user serviceability and ascribe it to Apple's nefarious motives, it is more likely a question of streamlining/optimizing the production process than anything else. Spending money to increase serviceability for products that almost never fail is money wasted. It is far cheaper for Apple (or any other company) to just replace the unit should it fail with a reconditioned unit, and/or bear the slightly increased cost for the few repairs that occur. This is product engineering, and trust me, someone has done the numbers. OK, hard disks fail but unless they get a really bad batch from the supplier, the failure rates of modern HDDs is pretty low. Last time I looked SSDs weren't that much more reliable despite lack of moving parts, though this may have changed now.

But of course all you geeks know and understand sooooo much more than the world's most profitable company, a company that sells a gajillion devices every year and which has the most enviable customer satisfaction ratings in the industry. Right. Your collective insights are pearls before the swine that Apple's engineers are.

You people are geeks. the real world of ordinary people (Apple's customers) think you are all somewhat demented - and "they" are right.

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Facepalm

Re: Not impressed with your review.

@Philip Lewis

As a sysadmin in a platform agnostic environment, I take issue with your assertion that Mac Airs or any mobile phone "almost never fail". That's pre-eminently bollocks. Portable computing devices (which at this point includes smartphones) may not have high failure rates, but they do fail - and while the highly portable kit may have design constraints which make user serviceability functionally impossible to deliver, there is nothing about the 12" laptop form factor that requires a non-user-replaceable battery or non-removable DIMMs. Or a proprietary SSD interface, for that matter. Those things emerge from the aesthetic decision to make the thing really really thin (it's possible to achieve comparable weight with slightly thicker, but more easily serviced and better-equipped systems). So, well, bollocks to 'em.

And yes, I'm still bitter about Apple's ridiculous decision to deprecate Gig-E wired networking because wireless is Teh Fuchar. Might be fine if all you do on your computer is dick around on the internet, but if you deal with transferring tens of gigs a day of data, or remote deployment of software packages that cumulatively are about 20GB in size, then half-assed 802.11g/n wireless doesn't cut it, not least because without huge investment in access points you end up with badly contended connections (in comparison with what you can achieve with existing wired-ethernet switch infrastructure).

I get the appeal for some users of the Computer As Appliance. I don't think it's a good idea, especially not at the prices and starting configurations that they're offering. (We're at best 12 months away of 8 GB RAM being the de facto minimum recommended memory in a system to have it run well for a 3 year lifespan).

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Facepalm

mechanical harddrive???

regardless of what brand your pc is, i fail to see why anybody would order one with a mechanical harddrive. you can always get a small ssd for main (== fast and quiet) and an external mechanical harddrive for data you don't need to always carry with you. mechanical harddrives are only for slow data, like mp3s, movies, photos and maybe big games one doesn't play often.

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JC_

Re: mechanical harddrive???

regardless of what brand your pc is, i fail to see why anybody would order one with a mechanical harddrive.

Because an SSD is a very expensive upgrade from the manufacturer. That's why.

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Re: mechanical harddrive???

Well said, JC_ ; when one can buy 256GB branded hard drives for a £110-£120, the well over £200 that OEMs charge for upgrading from a mechanical one - if they even offer the option! - is simply mick extraction.

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Re: mechanical harddrive???

People order these with a mechanical drive because Apple, in their infinite wisdom, don't offer a solid state only option.

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Re: mechanical harddrive???

@loan

For other vendors you'd have a point, but methinks you haven't seen the ludicrous margins Apple are including in the uplift pricing from a mechanical drive to an SSD - and since being convinced about the merits of an SSD involves seeing one in action first, someone has to bite the bullet and pay for it before you'd be convinced.

(Personally I think they're great if you can afford them, and I will at some point pick one up for my desktop. But with Apple you pay waaaaaaay over the odds for an SSD, so I can see why many folks would view the cheaper mechanical drive as "good enough".)

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark 65 Re: mechanical harddrive???

I didn't know that - i checked you're right. Wow, how can they not offer the ssd for the small imac? that's stupid.

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Re: @Mark 65 mechanical harddrive???

Apple's combination of SSD plus mechanical HDD uses a Logical Volume Manager in OSX, so most of the speed benefits of a large SSD are seen in small SSD + HDD combo- the OS decides which files are present on the SSD, and which on the HDD, all invisible to the user.

Still, having a mechanical HDD drive that is difficult to access isn't ideal.

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Stop

Looks gorgeous and Mountain Lion is a delight as OS X generally is. However the price of entry is becoming eye-watering and I say that even as a user of Mac computers. Nearly all the functionality I want these days I can find with Linux on a Intel-based PC for a about a third of the price. I'll admit I'll miss some things in Linux but I'm being priced out the market. I think though not being able to replace the hard drive is the real deal breaker as these things do fail within the lifetime of the product and I'd prefer to replace it at home in about 5 minutes as have to return it to Apple.

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JDX
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You can get an ugly grey box with the same grunt but no-name components for 1/3 of the price. For many of us, that's the same as saying you can build the same for 1/3 the price... but for many others it definitely is not.

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Gimp

So many of you can't live without a fashion statement case and Apple logos everywhere? That's how you justify spending so much more?

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Meh

Fashion, really?

The "fashion statement" thing is getting old. Nobody even SEES my desktop except my partner and she has her own Mac.

Its functionality, ease of use, lifespan and resale value. Nothing more, nothing less. The once a year virus scan that always comes up clean is nice too.

If I wanted a DIG ME machine it would be one of those enormous laptop GAMING PCs. Now those people are the fashion victims who have to see and be seen! They even leave all the stickers on the case so you don't miss how cool they are to have all that crunch in a laptop the size of an end table that gets hot enough to toast bread.

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Re: Fashion, really?

@Dana

If you're going to mock people's for having computers with stickers left on them, defending Apple (who supply FruitMachine logo stickers with their computers) is not necessarily the best position to take ;)

(I tend not to think about resale value when buying computers, because I will more often than not run them into the ground, upgrading as I go along, and repurpose them once they get replaced as a main machine, rather than sell them on. Having said that, resale value is a reasonable consideration for some usage patterns, and it's demonstrably the case that second hand Apple gear sells for higher prices than most other brands unless it's very obviously stolen gear...)

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Light and easier to carry?

Nice to know that it'll be slightly less challenging for whoever took the first one to leg it over the fence with it under their arm come their next visit..

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JDX
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Ooh, they let a non-fanboi review a Mac for once :)

I think it looks bloody lovely, and it's nice you get the fancy keyboard, fancy mouse AND fancy trackpad in the box.

I'm sure normal users don't care they can't upgrade it, BUT if there's a fault it'll be way more trouble even for an Apple Store to fix.

I'd use it if someone bought me one, but I won't be buying one.

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Less fuss than a vacuum cleaner?

You should work for Apple's marketing department!

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Anonymous Coward

Looks horrible.

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Trollface

Then step back from the mirror. Oh you mean the computer.

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Anonymous Coward

USB Eject

There's a pretty good reason why you have to eject USB drives, it's called buffering.

When you write to a device it simply isn't efficient to write 1 byte at a time to it. It is better to store this data in a memory buffer and commit it later on when the buffer is full.

Ejecting a USB drive flushes this buffer and writes it to the device.

I'm guessing you never used Linux for writing floppies? you would write to the disk and marvel at the high speed, only to realise nothing at all had been written to the disk. All of the changes were done when you "umount"-ed the floppy.

Honestly, it's a non-issue caused by a lack of understanding of what an OS does underneath. What is needed is an eject button next to the USB port and a light to indicate "okay to remove".

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FAIL

Re: USB Eject

The point was that the word 'eject' is an anachronism on an computer which has no means of reading removable media.

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Go

Re: USB Eject

"the word 'eject' is an anachronism on an computer which has no means of reading removable media."

100% correct except for the bit about USB sticks not being removable media.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: USB Eject

Currently my less-tech savvy mate is getting confused between devices connected as Mass Storage - which on PCs still require 'safely remove' because of the buffering, and Media Player mode, which can be just yanked out.

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Zot
FAIL

Re: USB Eject

It's a terrible review in that respect, it's like saying the computer is crap because it turns off when you pull the plug out!

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Holmes

Re: USB Eject

Debatable as the media is incorporated in the device itself, the device is removable from the computer but the media is not removable from the device. Messages should detect the type of device and substitute the string 'eject' (Floppy/CD/DVD) for 'safely remove' (USB) or something similar.

As a more general reply on this theme, not just to your post...

On connecting the device, when the icon appears on the desktop then something should indicate if 'eject'/'safely remove' is required or if it can be unplugged (e.g. MTP), e.g. via a bubble popping up next to the icon or a smaller icon overlayed on top in the corner. That would probably have to be an eject icon since I've got no idea what a safely remove icon should look like.

And it's not that easy to do now the default in Mountain Lion is not to show storage devices on the desktop.

Attention to detail is what we expect from Apple, then the reviewer gets criticised when he does just that...

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JDX
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Re: USB Eject

>>There's a pretty good reason why you have to eject USB drives, it's called buffering.

So how come Windows dropped this requirement in XP (it was XP?)

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One thing I've never worked out

Why do Apple put headphone sockets (and now the bloody SD card slot) on the back? Couldn't they go in the side of the shell if Apple couldn't bear to disfigure the front of the iMac?

I suppose one upside of the new design is that I can no longer absent-mindedly push SD cards into the optical drive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One thing I've never worked out

3.5mm male > 3.5mm female, 0.25 M length. £1.50

Okay, you shouldn't have to work around it, but it isn't a big workaround. The amazing thing is that Dell, after much thought and effort, succeeded in making front-mounted ports difficult to use:

http://www.pctechoutlet.com/images/Dell/dell-gx-270.jpg

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Re: One thing I've never worked out

But then it couldn't have razor-sharp edges, whatever use those are. And I do enjoy all of the 'easy workarounds' for all of the annoying decisions Apple made... Soon, you have your expensive all-in-one sitting on your desk with an optical drive plugged in here, a bunch of USB/Firewire/Thunder extension leads plugged in there.

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Zot
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British keyboard fail

Come on Jonathan Ive, the quotes are meant to be above the 2, I thought were supposed to be British!

The enter key is tiny as well, it looks and feels like there's not enough space for all the keys.

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Headmaster

16GB or 32GB max for 21.5-inch model?

@ Bob: "Fitted as standard on all new iMacs is 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM - up to 32GB is supported," Might want to clarify this statement. Looking at Apple's configure page, I can order up to 16GB for the 21.5-inch model. the 27-inch will take 32GB.

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Anonymous Coward

>a process called plasma deposition that Apple has scaled up for its displays

Really did they? - they must have I guess as every review mentions it. Doesn't seem to gel with the fact that far more enormous TVs, solar panels and etc are available which are thus coated.

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