Tag Archive | "tegra"

Chromebooks: Sales set to triple. Acer Chromebook 13 is on ARM. Watch out for Android Apps.

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chromebook 13Since the day I started Carrypad (the former name of this site) there’s been a continuous battle between ARM and X86 processing architectures.  Remember the Nokia 770 tablet? How about the Raon Digital Vega? [1] Today that fight is mainly in the Android tablet space but it’s becoming increasingly rowdy in the Chromebook space too. I was very impressed with the ASUS C200 Chromebook recently (on Intel) and there’s a 13.3-inch version of that, the ASUS C300, which will go right up against something using ARM architecture that is launching from Acer soon. The Acer Chromebook 13 running the Nvidia Tegra K1 platform and will offer similar performance, similar weight, similar price and similar battery life. Where’s the differentiator?

The new Tegra-based Acer Chromebook 13 will come with a 1366×768 screen, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. So far that matches the ASUS C300. In terms of weight, 3.3 pounds matches the 3.1 pounds of the ASUS. AC WiFi can be found on both along with a full-size HDMI port, 48Wh battery, webcam and two USB ports. They’re both USB3.0 on the Acer but I doubt many will care much about that.

The ASUS C300 has been on the market for a few weeks now and the price has dropped down to $229 which is very attractive when you compare it to the more expensive Acer Chromebook 13 at $279. That launch price is sure to come down so I’ll ignore that as I continue my comparison.

Acer Chromebook 13 (5)

The Acer Chromebook 13 has the longest-lasting battery life of all Chromebooks – up to 13 hours!

Is the battery life the differentiator? I can show you 13-hours on the ASUS C200 but possibly not on the ASUS C300 so it’s likely the Acer will win here but when you’re talking about all three Chromebooks lasting a full day on a charge does it make much difference?

Is it simply down to CPU brand? Is Tegra going to attract people? “192 Nvidia CUDA Cores” sounds good!

In terms of performance, assuming the SSD speeds and WiFi performance are similar, there won’t be much difference in web browsing speeds but one area where the Acer might have an edge is graphics. Gaming options on Chromebooks are rare so is the GPU really that important? There are two things to consider here. The first is GPGPU acceleration which could push up some HTML5 performance; The other is Android applications.

Acer Chromebook 13 gallery.

At Google I/O in June, Google demonstrated Android apps running on a Chromebook. Later, Google revealed that is was “done on a Chromebook Pixel running a standard development channel image and all Android code was running under Native Client.”  The technicalities are still unknown but could it be that Google are building the libraries required to allow Android apps to run with mininal porting? Google admits that it’s a technical challenge but it’s clear that Google want to bring Android apps to Chromebooks. ““Our goal is to bring your favorite Android applications in a thoughtful manner to Chromebooks.”  The Acer Chromebook 13 might not beat the ASUS C300 in 2014 but it might be the one to buy in 2015 when you take the possibility of Skype and Minecraft into account. It could break Chromebooks out of the simplicity-focused education market and right into a mainstream one. [2] 

Android apps might be the reason that Gartner predicts that Chromebook sales are likely to triple by 2017. That brings the forecast total to 14.4 million units globally. If ART and the porting of applications happens in numbers we could see a platform that competes with low-cost Windows 8 laptops for mainstream customers and exceeds that forecast. Having looked at the ‘gaps’ in ChromeOS closely I think ART Android apps can make a difference. Even if Skype is the only application ported over in 2015 it will make a huge difference. Low cost Windows laptops will evolve too though so competition will remain strong.

My Acer C200 overview video:

 

[1]This is a unique combination because the Nokia 770 was on Intel ARM and the Raon Digital on AMD X86.

[2] Corrected with additional research. Google has not officially announced that ART will come to Chromebooks. The incorrect section originally read:

“The first is GPGPU acceleration which could push up some HTML5 performance; The other is ART. ART is the new Android runtime that you’ll find replacing Dalvic in the up-coming Android-L release. Google has said it will build ART into ChromeOS and that really could be a game-changer for the Chromebook. ART means that, for the first time, there will be native, non HTML5, local apps on the platform. It means games can be ported over from Android to Chromebooks. The Acer Chromebook 13 might not beat the ASUS C300 in 2014 but it might be the one to buy in 2015 when you take the possibility of Skype and Minecraft into account. It could break Chromebooks out of the simplicity-focused education market and right into a mainstream one.”

Microsoft Surface – UMPC Done Right?

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In 2007 Microsoft introduced 7” tablets based on low power CPUs and Windows with touch capability and an overlay user interface called the Origami Experience. The Origami UMPCs drove a huge amount of attention at launch but within 4 years all traces of the devices were gone from the market.

Yesterday Microsoft introduced 10” tablets based on low power CPUs and Windows with touch capability and an overlay user interface called Metro. The Surface has already driven a huge amount of attention, but will it last?

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What’s the difference and should we be more excited this time round?

Read the full story

Post CES 2012 – Ultra Mobile Computing Solutions Remain Limited

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ASUS-Transformer-PrimeYou know what you want in an Ultra Mobile Computing solution. You want a rich spectrum of quality desktop applications with security, flexibility and processing power wrapped up into a handheld device. Unfortunately, after a busy CES, your options remain limited.

Computing at CES this year was all about Ultrabooks and Ice Cream Sandwich and while both of these topics are interesting, neither of the sectors produced anything that can be used today as a handheld PC.

Android devices continue to be crippled by low-quality and restricted software despite some amazing hardware solutions. The ASUS transformer Prime shows what can be done but is the same disappointment as the ‘smartbook’ devices I was testing in 2010. Just try using the Web Browser for a suite of web-based apps, try to write an article in the web-based WordPress back-end or try to book a flight. It’s actually quite embarrassing to see how little the software has moved on. Look for an office suite, a set of security tools, audio and video tools and a good quality image library and editing suite. It seems the only thing the Android ecosystem is working on today is gaming and that’s largely because of the attention that Nvidia have managed to drum up for the Tegra platform.

The fact is that the number of Android tablets out there doesn’t translate into any sort of business-case for porting and developing quality apps. Why bother investing $200K in a high-quality application port for a 7” or 10” screen when the market is an estimated 20 million customers and the average app purchase cost is under $4. The risk is not worth taking.

What the Android market needs is a huge boost in numbers. Fortunately, the Kindle Fire and the newly announced Asus Eee Pad MeMo with Android 4.0 operating system and a price of $250 could help. Although the Kindle Fire only runs V2.x Android software the chances are that newer versions of the Amazon product will get an upgrade and boost the ICS customer base. The Eee Pad MeMo at $250 speaks for itself. By the end of 2012 I estimate there will be well over 50 million Android tablets in the market and the numbers will be accelerating. At that point it makes sense to sit down with your developers and talk about an Android tablet application, albeit for a 2013 launch.

As I look across the other platforms and operating systems, I don’t see any major solutions rising up. The iPad continues to dominate mobile productivity apps but the form factor and operating system flexibility are limiting. The current Windows/Oaktrail pairing is disappointing too in terms of both battery life and performance.

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Intel held up the next-gen 32nm, re-architected ‘Clover Trail’ Windows tablet platform at CES which could provide the best chance of a quality handheld Windows experience and with Windows 8, this is probably the one to watch out for. Clover Trail is due in the second half of the year.

Cedar Trail netbooks and tablets provide an intermediate solution though and with the EeePC X101CH coming in cheap and light, it might be something to look at more closely but if you’re really looking for a handheld solution, I just can’t give you any news right now.

We’re at Mobile World Congress next month and at CeBIT in March so with Windows 8 looming, there’s a chance that UMPCPortal will come alive again. In the meantime, I can only advise buying a 7” Android 4.0 tablet and experimenting as soon as you can. While it can be frustrating for productivity, there’s a whole lot of good stuff that can still be done and I’m still not going anywhere without my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Paired with an Ultrabook, it’s a great solution.

Transformer Prime Official Page Leaks Early. Manual, Details, Source Code Revealed

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The Transformer Prime is still not featured on the front page of Asus.com, and a support page hasn’t gone live yet, but if you’re sneaky, you can find the Transformer Prime’s official product page on Asus’ website.

It would appear as though the product page has gone live earlier than intended as Asus is still advertising for the original Eee Pad Transformer on the front page of their site. Additionally, the Transformer Prime micro-site still shows the “Prime is Coming” teaser text. Though we already know most of what there is to know about the Transformer Prime, the official product page gives us the first official list of specs as well a the user manual of the upcoming Tegra 3 tablet.

The launch of the official page may indicate that a Transformer Prime release date is not far off.

Don’t miss the Prime first look hands-on video from Ritchie’s Room.

Colors

We can also finally see the two colors (Champagne Gold, and Amethyst Grey) that the Transformer Prime will be available in, thanks to some new photos:

Manual

Though most of us glaze over gadget manuals, I’ve come to find that there are occasionally great tidbits to be found within. Thus, I’ve done you the courtesy of pulling out some of the good nuggets from the Transformer Prime manual so that you don’t have to.

From the manual we can see that you won’t get anything too exciting out of the box, which comes with nothing but the Transformer Prime itself, a USB charger, regional wall adapter, docking-to-USB connector, manual, and warranty card. And yes, you read that correctly — the keyboard is not included standard, it’s an accessory that will cost you $149.

The manual also tells us that the trackpad on the keyboard dock has two defined areas that will function as left and right mouse clicks. This will surely be handy for VPN applications (like the built-in ‘My Desktop’) and make the Transformer Prime even more capable of functioning like a full-blown computer:

Among other keyboard shortcuts, pressing the Fn-key along with the Up or Down arrow keys will jump to the top or bottom of a given page respectively.

We can also peek at some of the customizations that Asus has made to Honeycomb which runs on the Transformer Prime. Most interesting among the adjustments to the quick-settings panel. There is a special screen-brightness button that you can press to boost the screen-brightness for better outdoor readability. There’s also a performance toggle which can switch between Power Saving, Balanced, and Normal modes. It’s unclear whether or not these settings will impact the clock speed of the Tegra 3 hardware or simply adjust some of the system settings such as screen timeout and background app updates:

For the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer, one of the popular tweaks was to download a widget that would independently display the battery life of the tablet and the keyboard; by default the system only specified the overall battery levels. This time around, Asus is adding that funtionality out of the box. Thanks to the Asus Battery Level widget, you’ll be able to see the charge of the keyboard and the tablet without having to download any third-party applications or widgets. In addition to the widget, you’ll be able to see the battery levels on the notification bar and in the quick-settings panel.

 

If you’re curious about the supported media formats for encoding and decoding on the Transformer Prime and Tegra 3, the manual gives us full details:

  • Decoding (audio)
    • AAC LC/LTP
    • HE-AACv1 (AAC+)
    • HE-AACv2 (Enhanced AAC+)
    • AMR-NB
    • AMR-WB
    • MP3
    • FLAC
    • MIDI
    • PCM/WAVE
    • Vorbis
    • WAV a-law/mu-law
    • WAV linear PCM
    • WMA 10
    • WMA Lossless
    • WMA Pro LBR
  • Decoding (video)
    • H.263
    • H.264
    • MPEG-4
    • VC-1/WMV
    • VP8
  • Encoding (audio)
    • AAC LC/LPT
    • AMR-NB
    • AMR-WB
  • Encoding (video)
    • H.263
    • H.264
    • MPEG-4
The Transformer Prime comes with the MyLibrary app which seeks to compile all of your eBook into one place (something you’ve probably been longing for if you’re like me and have eBooks across Amazon, Google, and more). MyLibary supports ePub, PDF, and TXT and has your typical page-turning interface on a sepia background.
If you are thinking about using your Transformer Prime for enterprise work, Polaris Office is another included app which will be handy for your document editing needs. You can hook up your Google Docs or Box.net account to the app for some cloud storage action. It supports the following:

Asus is including the SuperNote app which will let you take hand-written and typed notes, completed with photos, audio recordings, and more. Without an active digitizer and stylus this seems somewhat out of place, but I suppose this will be enjoyed by those who can get along with capacitive styli.

Source Code

In the download section of the official Transformer Prime product page is a section called ‘Source Code’. This 89.9MB file is presumably the Transformer Prime’s software image, and might be useful for those hacksters over at the XDA Developer Forums.

Pricing for the Transformer Prime starts at $499 (+$149 if you want the dock) but the release date has not yet been announced.

Transformer Prime Shows Us What Tegra 3’s 12-core GPU Can Do [video]

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Tegra 3 is the world’s first quad-core mobile platform, Nvidia assures us, and along with those 4 CPU cores come the Tegra 3 GPU which has 12 additional cores of its own. Nvidia is happy to show off the graphical capabilities of the Tegra 3 GPU, which they claim to be up to 3x faster than the Tegra 2 GPU. A few months back (when Tegra 3 was still being called Kal-El) Nvidia demoed a game called Glowball on pre-production hardware. Now, Nvidia is showing off a new level of the game, running on a production version of the Transformer Prime:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C30ShWQm5pI

If you were already anticipating the Transformer Prime, I can only imagine you are now that much more excited; you’d be hard pressed to call that demo anything but impressive. I’ll be curious to see some benchmarks, but I’d say Tegra 3’s graphical capabilities are right up there with Apple’s A5 CPU/GPU found in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

I think it’s great to see that competition has created extremely high performance mobile computing platforms, but when it comes to gaming on tablets, casual play is still where the segment thrives. As soon as you push touchscreen gaming beyond casual, you absolutely need a controller to achieve a reasonable experience. Even though we should be able to connect Bluetooth peripherals (or even USB), it seems that there is not yet a defacto controller to suit the needs of beyond-casual gaming on mobile devices.

What say you? Do you find beyond-casual gaming on tablets impractical with only a touchscreen to control them?

Transformer Prime with Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU Now Official

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The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (aka Transformer 2) leaked last month but now it’s all been made official. Tegra 3 has been confirmed, and although the Transformer Prime will ship with Android 3.2, they are confirming that it can be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Transformer without the signature attachable keyboard, and Asus is claiming that the Transformer Prime will get a whopping 18 hours of battery life from a full charge using both the tablet and the dock.

With the Tegra 3 quad-core processor (once codenamed Kal-El), Nvidia says that you can see improvements in speed up to 3x over Tegra 2, with up to 61% less power consumption. The lower power consumption is thanks to a fifth “companion cube” “companion core” that is designed to do the easy lifting, completely shutting down the quad-core CPU when it isn’t needed. Once you start doing tasks that require significant power, everything is shifted from the companion core to the quad-cores and the companion core is shut down. Nvidia calls this process Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing or vSMP.

The GPU included in Tegra 3 utilizes 12 processing cores and can automatically convert OpenGL applications and games into stereo 3D, allowing you to hook up your tablet to a 3D HDTV or 3D head mounted display (like Sony’s upcoming HMZ-T1).

The Transformer Prime itself is an impressive 8.3mm thick, which will make it the thinnest 10″ tablet available on the market (that is, until Toshiba releases their 7.7 mm thick AT200). It is also one of the lightest 10″ tablets at 586 grams, though still behind the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This is all without the keyboard of course.

The Transformer Prime screen retains the 1280 x 800 resolution and IPS technology used on the original Transformer. 1GB of RAM accompanies the Tegra 3 processor. Unfortunately, Asus has not moved the USB port onto the tablet itself, as per Damian’s hopes; you’ll still need transform into the keyboard mode to access the USB port. Unfortunately they’ve actually reduced the count from two USB ports to one, which seems like a step backward considering the good USB peripheral support of Android Honeycomb and beyond. The Transformer Prime alone has micro-HDMI, 3.5mm headphone/mic input, a built in mic, micro-SD card reader, and stereo speakers.

The Transformer Prime is Priced at $499 for a 32GB model or $599 for a 64GB model. There are two colors available: Amethyst Grey and Champagne Gold. The keyboard dock, which includes one USB port and a full-sized SD card reader and battery (and will add 537 grams to the Transformer Prime), is optional and will run you an additional $149.

Nvidia Kal-El Video Demo Gives Glimpses of Next-gen Tablet Performance and What 4 CPU Cores and 12 GPU Cores Can Do

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nvidia kal-elNvidia’s Tegra and Tegra 2 hardware has been quite popular over the last year, bringing powerful CPU and GPU performance to tablets and smartphones in a standardized package. Today, Nvidia is showing off the next version of Tegra, codenamed Kal-El, which will power tomorrow’s tablets and smartphones.

Kal-El is the next iteration of Nvidia’s mobile CPU/GPU series and features the world’s first mobile quad-core CPU, and a whopping dodeca-core GPU (that’s 12, folks!). Nvidia is expecting five times the performance of Tegra 2 out of Kal-El!

They say that seeing is believing:

This impressive video demo shows some intense dynamic lighting and real-time physics. Both lighting and animations are traditionally pre-rendered onto scenes in mobile games and cannot be interacted with in real-time. Nvidia says that Kal-El’s four CPU cores and twelve GPU cores make dynamic lighting and real-time physics animations practical for the first time on mobile devices.

In the demo you’ll watch as the demonstrator disables two of the four CPU cores to simulate how the game would run on a dual-core CPU. The results aren’t very pretty as the cores max-out and the framerate drops to at least half of what it was. Returning to four cores shows each core running around 70% and the game playing very smoothly. What’s great is that Nvidia expects the production CPU to be 25-30% faster than the hardware being used for this demonstration!

The game will be available on the Android Marketplace (likely through the Tegra Zone application) once it’s complete.

Nvidia has been sending out Kal-El samples to production customers since February and expect Kal-El devices to begin production this August.

Notion Ink Adam Reviewed, Android 2.3 and Other Changes Coming in an Update

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notion-ink-adam

The Notion Ink Adam [tracking page] may have wow-ed most at the CES 2011 but the proof is always in the pudding once the tablet is truly unleashed for general consumption in the consumer market.

It took a little while, but Engadget’s Sean Hollister managed to get his hands on a unit and wrote a good review on the Adam. From the review feedback, the Adam may not have lived up to expectations as being a perfect technology marriage of form and functionality.

Let’s explore the Adam, shall we?

The Adam has a unique form factor which differentiates it from most uniformly slim-line tablets – it has a rather rounded bulky rear (pictured below).

Notion-Ink-Adam-rear

 

Some may find this rather unsightly but from an ergonomic’s perspective, I think this is a good design as it may allow a good one handed grip when using the Adam in a portrait mode. This is especially important as the Adam weighs in at rather hefty 1.6 pounds and therefore having a good grip whilst single-handedly using it is a must.  Sean mentions the cylindrical rear holding a pair of stereo speakers as well as three-cell battery which makes me wonder if the unit may be possibly top heavy (or bottom depending on which direction you hold it!) when held in a landscape position.

The reviewer wasn’t impressed with the four capacitive touch buttons (pictured above) which are neither backlit or possess haptic feedback.

One thing the Adam has going for it is the plethora of ports, from two full-sized USB ports as well as a HDMI slot that is capable of 1080p display mirroring.  I feel that this is a key feature that distinguishes the Adam as a tablet meant as a serious productivity workhorse or mobile home-theater from a tablet meant soley as a sofa surfing device. I cannot tell you how many times I have been frustrated when someone at work hands me a USB thumb drive and I am unable to transfer files via USB to my Dell Streak 5” nor my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7”!

Another feature which had us all eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Adam is the famed Pixel Qi display.  Unfortunately, the reviewer found that the Adam’s 1024×600 resolution Pixel Qi display was not good, describing the display’s viewing angles as “terrible” with the colors being “a bit washed out”. A saving grace is that the reviewer found the Adam’s Pixel Qi’s reflective mode working well and once the screen backlit is switched off, the screen is viewable even outdoors and conserved hours of battery life.

The reviewer also found the 3.2MP camera’s picture taking capabilities to be unimpressive, describing issues with the autofocus as well as over exposed pictures. Note that the camera is able to swivel front to rear, vice versa.

Under the hood, the Adam sports a dual-core 1Ghz Tegra 250 and the reviewer has found no issues with general performance of the device.

From an operating system perspective, the Adam runs Android 2.2 aka “Froyo” but Notion Ink designed its own user interface known as the Eden UI that provides an innovative-looking PanelView (pictured above) that allows the multiple applications to be open and active on the same homescreen.

Though the hardware issues can’t be fixed through a software update, Notion Ink will be releasing a significant update to the Adam’s software. The update will contain the following:

  • a new e-book client
  • a new Browser (the name of the book client and browser will be released in a separate blog next week)
  • updated Kernel
  • optimally over-clocked Tegra
  • Gingerbread 2.3
  • lots of usability Issues resolved
  • new multi-tasking environment (easier way to manage all tabs and applications)
  • Chords Music Library and Player (Simple and straight Music Player)
  • Video Library and Player
  • DSP support, so now equalizer will work in better way. Soon we are adding more bass boost in the speakers as well (not a part of this update).
  • Flash pre-installed
  • and more

Readers may wonder why the update to Android Gingerbread 2.3 instead of Honeycomb 3.0, the reason being that Google only releases the Honeycomb source code to a selected few partners at this point and Notion Ink isn’t one of them.

The release date of the update is still unannounced at this stage.

Notion has certainly challenged the tablet manufacturer’s norm by designing a tablet that has the capability of replacing a desktop thanks to USB peripheral support. I certainly hope that it is able to rectify the hardware quality issues and deliver the software update in a timely manner.

Here’s Notion Ink Adam Picture Gallery thanks to Engadget!

Eee Pad Transformer Official Launch on Friday

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ASUS-Eee-Pad-Transformer Friday is turning out to be a good day. The iPad 2 launches in Europe (although I still don’t see any official pricing in Germany) and it’s my Birthday. Now, I hear that the Eee Pad Transformer is launching too. Decisions decisions!

The Eee Pad Transformer is an interesting product because it takes the idea of the smartbook one step further. It uses the Honeycomb operating system (which could enable a far superior laptoping experience than 2.x ever did) and it uses a keyboard mechanism that can be un-docked to allow tablet-only usage.

I tested the Transformer out at mobile world congress in February (video below) and wasn’t too impressed with the weight but full USB ports made me wonder if ASUS are building some nice USB hosting capabilities. The weight with the dock also seems a little over the top. With connectors and an additional battery in the keyboard unit, I’m expecting the total weight to tip 1KG. The unit I tested wasn’t running Honeycomb.

Pricing has me a little worried. The price for the tablet seems OK at 399 Euro although confirmation is still needed on storage and 3G capability. 32GB and 3G included is what I’m assuming at this stage. The price of the dock could add 120 Euro to that. The price isn’t too bad when compared with high-end tablets but when compared with the Tegra-2 based Toshiba AC100 smartbook (under 300 Euro with 3G) you get the idea that there’s a huge margin being added here and that the price should come down by at least 100 Euros over time.

The March 25th launch is for Taiwan only at this stage and will only include pre-order. Actual availability around the world is still unknown but we’ll probably hear more on Friday.

VIa Netbooknews

Tegra-Powered Windpad 100A

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MSI have the Tegra powered Windpad behind glass here at CEBIT.

The images above show full sd card slot, mini-hdmi, mini-USB, one full-sized USB port and the same optical mouse as seen on the Windows-based Windpad 110w.

MSI say that this will be available in the Q2 timeframe and MSI are aiming for the Honeycomb OS.

Posted from WordPress for Android with the Galaxy Tab



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