Future NEC DVD burners -- Caveat Emptor !

CityK

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NEC has apparently placed a large OEM order with LiteOn for DVD burners.

Past performance does not guarantee future results ... Yeah, but those LiteOn drives sure sucked in comparison to NEC's ... and this is coming from a guy who held out (far too long, before switching "allegence" to NEC dvd drives) that LiteOn would right the ship ... they didn't/haven't.....can't see much reason currently why the near term future will be much different.

Boo NEC. Boooooooooooooooooooooooo !
 

sechs

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Until recently, I don't think that Lite-On has been up to par on performance. I haven't heard of any issues with reliability.
 

ddrueding

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Still loving the BenQ burners. After a firmare update, they rip DVD and Audio faster than anything else I have.
 

paugie

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I wanted to buy a BenQ 1640 for my first drive. BUT, the person who was buying it for me was too early at the shops and the places which had opened has only NEC 3540A's. So I got a NEC instead.

Well, it's my first DVD burner and I think it is good enough. Burns 8X media at 8X. Once got 4X media (identified as Sony) which the burner said it could burn at 16X. I was surpriced. Tried it at 12X because I thought the hardware was making a mistake. Nope, it burned the DVD perfectly at 12X. It was an exception though. All the others in the batch were rated by the burner at 4X.

BTW, I'm talking of bargain blanks. They cost me P9 each which, divided by 54 comes to $0.16.

They all are read well. The Nero Scandisk utility checks them all out as perfect burns.
 

Gilbo

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Lite On CD Burners and readers were great, but their DVD burners are picky about media and produce higher error rates than most of the competition. NEC was up at the top of pack in terms of quality so this is definitely disappointing.

LG has won my business for the last year or so with their DVD Burners. Good quality burning like the NEC, but much better reading abilities --not to mention DVD-RAM support which is great for frequent backups.
 

Ted

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Gilbo said:
Lite On CD Burners and readers were great, but their DVD burners are picky about media and produce higher error rates than most of the competition. NEC was up at the top of pack in terms of quality so this is definitely disappointing.
I agree. I've had many Lite-On CD burners in various machines. I've still got a 16X model kicking around here somewhere. They were great and I always looked forward to the next model. They always recieved good to excellent reviews, burned just about anything thrown at them and they were cheap.

Their DVD burners though have consistantly been average in tests and reviews which is a real shame.

Gilbo said:
LG has won my business for the last year or so with their DVD Burners. Good quality burning like the NEC, but much better reading abilities --not to mention DVD-RAM support which is great for frequent backups.
I have the:
LG4163B
NEC 3520A
Pioneer 109

I prefer the former two to the Pioneer but all three are great burners in their own right.
 

Tannin

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I am a DVD moron. I have never ripped a DVD in my life. Hell, I have never even made an audio CD. In fact, the only things I have ever done with a CDR or DVDR are: copy an entire CD; burn assorted files to CD; burn assorted files to DVD. I imagine that it's not too difficult to do these other things people always talk about, but can't imagine why I would ever want to do any of them myself.

What I can report, however, is my experience with various brands of DVDR so far as customer complaints and faulty drives go. That's all I ever learn: does the customer complain, and does the thing come back faulty or not. This might be a bit light on (no pun intended) for detail, but we handle a significant number of drives, so I think the return numbers are worth repeating.

We have returned exactly 1 DVDR for warranty replacement in the last 12 months. This was a Lite-On. Seeing as we sell something like 70% Lite-On, and 30% all other brands, I can't complain. Aside from the Lite-Ons, we have sold reasonable numbers of LG and Gigabyte.

We have had zero customer complaints about our DVD burners (aside the one faulty one, which was promptly replaced under warranty).

Seems to me that there is a record that can't be beat. I have no plans to try any other brand, unless someone shows me a compelling reason why Brand X is better.

For no particular reason, we usually sell Lite-On DVDRs and Gigabyte combo drives. Sometimes the other way around. Either one works fine. Now and again, when we happen to be ordering from a different supplier, we get LG instead, which seems fine.

I refuse to sell anything by way of an optical drive with a Sony brand (too many bad experiences) and am wary of selling Pioneer optical products (bad experiences, but probably too long ago to actually be relevant here). In any case, Pioneer drives tend to be expensive, and I'm damned if I'll pay extra for a product that (in years gone by with other optical products) has proven to have a poor compatibility record.

Is there any reason not to keep on selling Lite-Ons?
 

Ted

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Tannin said:
Is there any reason not to keep on selling Lite-Ons?
For the average or novice PC user who does the occasional burn a Lite-On is fine, and as long as the resultant burn can be accessed or played they're happy and think about it no further.

But, anyone who delves deeper into what constitutes a 'good burn' and does a bit of research would not be happy with some of the results of recent Lite-On burners.

With regard to reliability, I don't think there is any major difference between one brand and another these days and besides the drives are so cheap now that very few people would bother with an RMA anyway and probably toss it in the bin and buy another if it failed.

All recent Sony burners are rebadged Lite-On drives so any problems would be down to Sony playing with the firmware. If I recall correctly the Gigabyte drives are also made by Lite-On as are some others.

I was never a big fan of Pioneer products myself but one of the things I respect about Pioneer is their dedication to improving their drives through frequent firmware updates. So many companies make one or two firmware revisions and then abandon any further development.

If the majority of your customers are blissfully ignorant and happy with their Lite-On drives then by all means continue selling them, but continue stocking something for the more discerning customer as well ;)

Given your fondness for Samsung HDD's I'm a bit surpised that you actually don't push Samsung opticals. Don't know how good they are (very little to be found) but cosmetically they look a lot better than the majority of plain jane opticals out there.

I don't think there is a particular "brand X that is better" all burners fundamentally do what they're supposed to do but some do it a little better than others though the result might not be immediately obvious. What brand/ burner thats considered the best today could easily make a dud with the next model and vice versa. It's just a pity that Lite-On have lowered their standards in recent times to average.
 

Tannin

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Thanks Ted, this is good to know. In general, Samsung opticals are nowhere near the quality of their HDD products. (Different division maybe?) I don't think I've used their DVD burners, but I'd not really want to given that their CD and DVD products (especially their CD products) have been so consistently mediochre to bad.

Buck tried some Samsung opticals a while back and his feeling was the same as mine. In fact, I think he sent them all back and ordered a different brand to replace them.

But with Samsung, who knows? They are just as likely to produce an out and out winner of a DVD burner. Like their monitors: they range from as good as money can buy to absolute crap. Thank Harry that their magnetic storage division is consistent!

Reliability still does vary from one brand to another: just start buying cheap no-names and you'll soon see. Or Sony for that matter, unless they have lifted their game, which I doubt. When you are Sony, you never improve anything, because the SONY badge on the front of it tells you that it is already perfect in every possible way and any and every fault pertaining to the part is always and automatically the fault of some other non-Sony part, and seeing as it is already perfect you shouldn't ever touch it, except possibly to put the price up. Sort of reminds me of ASUS, really. Or Symantec.

With my cynic's hat on, I'm inclined to say that the reason Pioneer update their firmware a lot is because it bloody needs it! Practically 100% of our Pioneer problems came down to electronic faults. Weird stuff, really weird, like working fine for a week then randomly rebooting the machine; or suddenly deciding after 12 months of normal operation that being a slave or master with another drive (any drive, any brand) is no longer something a Pioneer drive should do. Lots and lots of weird stuff like that, all to do with the electronics (or possibly the firmware). It's been quite a while, but I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending them to anyone, not when I know the company's history and know of other brands that have a clean record.

So gentlemen: is Ted right? Is there a brand around that's better than Lite-On? What actual hands-on differences will my customers notice?
 

mubs

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I don't burn a lot, and neither do I build a lot of systems. But until now the chatter on the internet put the bets for overall quality and goodness on NEC (up until now, that is) and BenQ. The latter seems to be a quiet powerhouse in its own right, also making LCD monitors for Dell, etc. BenQ maybe worth trying out if you can get them down there.
 

Buck

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In the past, I was very happy with Samsung CD drives. I never had a problem reading discs or any reliability issues. The Samsung CD-RWs were okay, but I noticed that they didn't always burn CDs that could be read by other devices. So I switched briefly to NEC. They did a good job burning, but sounded like turbines when reading or writing. Plus the tray was unusually noisy, which I chalked up to cheapness (hence my desire to return the whole lot as Tannin mentioned earlier). Once I made the switch to DVD devices, I decided to ignore Samsung and tried NEC again (the reviews were quite positive). Indeed, the NEC DVD-RW devices are very good. However, as time progressed, they tended to be more expensive than other brands, and LG seemed to be producing a winner that included compatibility for burning RAM media. So, I switched to LG. My LG run seemed to be doing well until recently, when it was time to reorder stock, and my personal LG drive failed -- it just stopped reading any media, although it was detected by the BIOS and operating system. I decided to take a chance with BenQ, and I have enjoyed them thus far. Granted, they don't burn RAM media, but I've never had a request for this anyway.

Interestingly, out of all the brands I've used (including those not mentioned above), I have had five brands fail on me: Plextor, Creative, Kenwood, Sony, and LG, with Creative taking the lion's share. Just to repeat, none of the Samsung CD/CD-RW drives put in service have failed.
 

Tannin

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Interesting.

We sold a handful of BenQ drives a while back, probably CDRs but I forget exactly. They went OK, seemed a bit cheap and flimsy. Most of the (pretty good) Mitsubishi CD and CDR drives we sold were probably manufactured by BenQ. I'll have another look at them.

The majority of Creative CD drives sold were manufactured by Samsung. At least that is so for (roughly) the 16 through 52-speed era. Probably the CDRs as well.
 

Buck

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Interesting point to ponder Tony. I wonder if Samsung was manufacturing second class products for Creative. (I still have a Creative 24x trayless drive somewhere that works.)
 

Handruin

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The samsung DVD-ROM donated to me (by you guys) is still in service. I'll have to admit, it's lasted the longest of any optical drive I've ever owned, and it gets used often. Plextor and Toshiba where the other two opticals which failed after a year of service...
 

paugie

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The CD/DVD burning sites have posted the BenQ DW1640 and the NEC 3540A as favorites as of late. I paid the equivalent of US$64 for my NEC. Doubtless my friend paid a whole lot less for it to cover his expenses and legwork.

He said the BenQ was going for a few dollars less. Good value for money, those.

I remember way back in ... I was saving up for my first CD burner. The Lite-On 12X was selling for 6,+++ pesos (at a time when our money still had value) so when the price dropped to P5,300, I bit. Within 3 months, the prices of burners took a steep downturn. 16X and 24X burners started selling for P3,+++. Gahhh. I was thinking, I should have waited some more.

Still, that Lite-On 12X burner weighed more than twice what my DVD burner weighs today. And it was still burning well when I sold it 3 months ago.
 

CityK

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Things change.

LiteOn commoditized the CD-burner - and did so by offering a product that worked just as well, if not better then its competitors. However, dvd-burners are the soup du jour, and they too have "long" since been commoditized. In the process, companies like Benq have come to offer dvd-burner products that have been well recieved because of their performance. I have no experience with them, but have seen enough bantering from certain circles to except that there is a good possibility that there reception is for good reason....but that doesn't mean I'm not skeptical for reason too (call it the Asus factor of the hoard if you will).

Anyways, the reasons why I like the recent NEC burners have been well described by other posters in this thread...as are the reasons why I currently hold Liteon dvd-burners to be mediocre product offerings.

I laugh to myself that it wasn't too long ago that I wasn't entirely smitten with NEC. But things change, and I like to keep an open mind about it. Unless the company has really pissed me off or I'm entirely ethically opposed to them for some grounds, I'll keep them in mind ... its just, well with so much comparable goods from other manufactures I'm comfortable with, its a swift current they're swimming against to get to the other side of the stream where my dollar resides.

TTFN
 

time

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CityK said:
However, dvd-burners ... have "long" since been commoditized.
I don't agree with you on this point. DVD technology is still evolving and manufacturers are releasing unfinished products - look at Sony, for instance. Pioneer and NEC rely on firmware updates to meet their advertised feature set.

I'm relieved that DVD burners appear to be far more reliable than CD burners were a few years ago.
 

time

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I personally haven't had any troubles with Pioneer products, but in the past they've been too expensive for us to use very often. Now, however, their OEM drives look to be similarly priced to competitors'.

Does anyone know what happened to hacked firmware for Pioneer drives? I can't find any for newer drives, eg 109 onward.

I've been playing with a retail A09 here, and it's hard not to be impressed. The 'Quiet Drive' technology really works. I've never heard (or not heard) such a quiet DVD drive, even when spinning at 8x or more.

It includes DVD Movie Factory 3.5 Suite Deluxe as well as bunch of Ulead SE products. At current prices (about US$70), it looks like a good buy unless 6x D/L burning isn't fast enough for you.

But what's really caught my eye is the new DVR-110D. There's an early review here (1.1MB PDF). The write accuracy looks to be exceptional. What do people here think?
 

Handruin

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I just bought a DVR-109 (OEM version) of the same Pioneer for my fathers new system. So far I've been very happy with it's results during my burn-in and testing. CD burn speeds are good, and as you've said, the drive is quiet. I've only tried a couple type of media, and so far I've had no problems. I upgraded to the firmware to the latest available. So far so good...
 

Ted

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The only issue I've had with both the 109 and LG 4163B was that after a firmware update a tub of Melody 8x DVD+R ( I had just started) would no longer work on either burner without making coasters. :evil: The NEC 3520A still produces good burns with them so I'm not updating the firmware on that burner until they're finished.

I'm still yet to find an answer on the web as to why drive manufacturers update firmware that effectively locks out media that previously was catered for?


Conspiracy theory ahead.. ;)
What inducement or graft do optical drive manufacturers actually ask for, for adding support for a particular brand of media? Just doesn't make sense to me that a firmware update would cripple previous support unless it was done deliberately.
 

Ted

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time said:
DVD technology is still evolving and manufacturers are releasing unfinished products - look at Sony, for instance.
I don't know why people hold such views about Sony products?, specifically in this case optical drives since Sony no longer make and market their own drives. AFAIK, all recent burners have been OEM Lite-On drives. The only potential for Sony to screw things up further over what is already a very average burner is them 'fine tuning' :roll: the firmware to distinguish it as being a different product to the equivalent Lite-On.

As for domestic gear such as TV's, VCR's, DVD players, and HI-FI products I've personally had no problems out of the ordinary. I still have a second generation Sony DVD player thats in almost daily use. I don't know about the newer stuff but a lot of my gear is Sony branded and quite old now, and its been very reliable with the exception of a 7 year old 5.1 reciever that recently carked it. I replaced it with a Denon. :)
 

Tannin

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Five reasons to hate Sony
  • Poor reliability and compatibility record (i.e., we see a higher proportion of Sony drives faulty than we do of many other brands). I suspect that this has more to do with the electronics or firmware than it does with the mechanicals. It may well be the Sony firmware "improvements" that make their drives so problematic.
  • High prices without a corresponding higher average quality. I don't mind paying more if the product is actually better, but it isn't. In fact, it's often worse.
  • Very poor service department. Getting spare parts out of Sony (my audio/video servicing friends tell me) is like pulling teeth. And getting schematics is worse. (Haven't seen this for myself, but I have every reason to believe it.) Not to mention absurd spare parts prices. (Again, according to what I'm told by people in a position to know.)
  • Sony arrogance. Reminds me of ASUS.
  • Sony conceit. Reminds me of ASUS.
 

Handruin

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time said:
I've used several of the DVR-109s without problems, Doug. The A09 is even quieter.
I always thought the A09 was nothing more than the retail version of the 109...apparently it is not? Just like when I bought my Pioneer 106, it was supposedly the same as the A06, just retail vs. OEM? However now that I write it down, it's reversed...I did buy the retail kit for my 106, and the number was DVR-106, and the OEM at the time was A06. It seems to be reveresed for the 109. :scratch:
 

Ted

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Tannin said:
[*] Poor reliability and compatibility record (i.e., we see a higher proportion of Sony drives faulty than we do of many other brands). I suspect that this has more to do with the electronics or firmware than it does with the mechanicals. It may well be the Sony firmware "improvements" that make their drives so problematic.
Well, I've never been one for badge engineering. In my experience its always been best to buy the original no matter what the product is. So if the product is a turd to begin with you might be able to polish the turd but it will still be a turd that stinks. :D

Tannin said:
[*] High prices without a corresponding higher average quality. I don't mind paying more if the product is actually better, but it isn't. In fact, it's often worse.
That's not unique to Sony as most companies trade value on their reputation. Sony's reputation goes well beyond domestic products and is long established and respected in the professional field. Unfortunately they've succumb to what other companies have done and that is to put their name to shit that others make (badge engineering)


Tannin said:
[*] Very poor service department. Getting spare parts out of Sony (my audio/video servicing friends tell me) is like pulling teeth. And getting schematics is worse. (Haven't seen this for myself, but I have every reason to believe it.) Not to mention absurd spare parts prices. (Again, according to what I'm told by people in a position to know.)
Well here I can tackle you with some first hand experience.

Most electronics companies today in aus have a very small service department, if one at all. I can remember at one point a few years ago Philips actually closed theirs altogether and farmed out their service department to contract but I don't know whether this is the case today.

Sony same as some other companies today do not have the manpower or resources to help every tech that happens to ring them looking for answers to supplement their own lack of diagnostic skills. They confine themselves to providing support to those that are authorised to repair their products. If you're not in the authorised loop then you get little to no official technical help. This attitude is also becoming common in the motor trade today as well with authorised dealerships closing ranks and not helping independents.

Getting spare parts from Sony is no particular drama if you know where to get them from:

For the most part Sony in aus distribute spare parts through an authorised second party. When I was last servicing TV's etc a few years ago it was Speedy Spares in Melbourne. The secret is in knowing what actual part you want and the appropriate part number. If you ring up without the full and correct information it is hardly surprising that you will get an arrogant and terse reply for consuming someones valued time.

There's always a dilemma those that are not authorised techs face.

If you're an authorised technician/firm that represents a particular company as far as repairs goes then the parts catalogues and schematics are either provided free or at small charge along with access to service department help etc.

If you're not an authorised repairer and you get in a particular brand set or model that you are not likely to get a lot of in for repair then you have to ask yourself whether it is economical to buy a manual that you might never use again. In such cases 'smart' techs would at least try and get a photo copy of the particular circuit that they think the problem lies in.

You can generally get such photo copies or indeed the whole manual from whoever represents the company. In the case of Sony products in aus it was and may still be Speedy Spares.

There is also another source for manuals for 'all' brands and they can either be bought or hired. The companies name is High Country Service Data.

So it is no great drama to source schematics for Sony products if you're willing to go to a little trouble and expense. Unfortunately a great many techs out there rely all too often on trying to fault find without the aid of a schematic for various reasons many of which are of their own choosing. If they get it wrong flying blind then the customer and ultimately the brands reputation suffers. It is very easy to label something as shit when you dont understand it or find something a little different. Too easy to pass the buck and move on to the bread and butter models.

Parts prices can at times be a little high I'll grant you that, but in some cases there's typical reason for it.

Sony TV's and VCR's etc were until recent years considered a little bit more upmarket and sold in much lower volume compared to other brands in aus. Whether that reputation was deserved or not I'll no further debate. But where you have low volume but expensive initial sales and a reputation (upmarket) then spare parts are always appropriately priced. This propensity to greed is not confined to electronics. One of the reasons I drive a Holden though I could afford to buy something 'considered' better.

The other problem with Sony spares is that almost always with major components you have to buy original. With more popular brands and models it is almost always possible to buy a generic or aftermarket part or use an alternative. As an example it was relatively easy and quick to buy a non genuine EHT transformer for more popular sets months after the set was released. With most Sony TV's it took 2-3 years for an alternatice part to be made available, if at all. Economy of scale again dictates availability and price.

I can remember a few times when I had to service Sharp products. Sharp predominantly make their own IC's and some diodes that don't have corresponding aftermarket alternatives. You're forced to pay through the nose for a part which shits the consumer big time considering how cheap the whole product was initially.

Hitachi are another brand that use their own unique and overpriced IC's. High parts prices are not confined to Sony and some Sony parts are priced quite fairly IMO, though the asking price of $400 and 8 weeks wait for another transformer to ship from Japan for my 5.1 receiver was a friggin joke :evil:


Tannin said:
[*] Sony arrogance. Reminds me of ASUS.
[*] Sony conceit. Reminds me of ASUS.
I'll agree with your comments on Asus having been on the receiving end myself.

Actually one of the best service departments I had dealings with was Samsung aus. If Samsung made a shit electronic design that caused failure then they came up with a fix promptly. Often made parts kits available to techs for nothing to correct/mod such design flaws, and if all attempts to repair damage was unsuccesful or too severe they provided the latest alternative product to the consumer free of charge through the tech. And the service department was always available to those other than in the direct loop. Pretty well the way all service departments should be and was once run many moons ago.
 

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Very interesting that Ted - an infrequent visitor, had I to guess - has continued the trend of positive comments regarding Samsung.

These days the ONLY Sony products that I own or use are those that have no corresponding replacement anywhere in the marketplace: 400-disc CD and DVD carousels with RS232 inputs

Also, to be just a tiny bit on topic, I bought a BenQ DVD burner today. My distributor has a special on them this week. I think it'll be a piece of crap, like every other thing I've ever seen from BenQ, but for $35, I can give it to a customer I don't like.
 

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I'm not going to respond to Ted's post just yet, as it makes too much sense do deal with with a half-brain (my usual state when I'm grabbing ten minutes during lunch).

But BenQ. Now there is an interesting company. The do make good stuff, and they make cheap, flashy rubbish as well. Mostly on the cheap flashy side, but not always. For example, BenQ used to manufacture the bulk of the excellent Mitsubishi items we used to buy a lot of: keyboards (I think) and in particular TFT screens. They were superb. But BenQ's own-brand stuff seems to have degenerated into flashy-looking tinsel, in the main. Go figure.
 

paugie

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this NEC 3540A is silent as well

What do I know. Just comparing it to all the other CD drives I've had before, A few Lite-On readers (they whine when reading, can be disturbing). Lite-On 12X same as the readers) Cyberdrive 16X CD burner (pumps up and down - wheeze wheeze silence wheeze wheeze silence) Asus readers (they go like a jet taking off)

But this NEC? I have to look at the light to see if it is operating. Even when it is ripping info or verifying written data at high speed.
 
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