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Television Media Hardware Technology

TiVo Buries the VCR 210

Posted by Zonk
from the i-don't-want-to-go-on-the-cart dept.
Biul drolly writes "Apparently, TiVo's marketing department had difficulty with figurative speech in school." Specifically, News.com reports that TiVo held a mock funeral for the VCR this week. From the article: "While the death of VCRs and the VHS format has been long expected, it may be a bit premature to announce its arrival. Some 97 million households still have at least one VCR, according to the International Recording Media Association. However, TiVo's stunt does point out how fragile the VCR market is. Panasonic and Toshiba still make VCRs, as do lesser-known companies such as Lite-On, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer that sells its recorders through Wal-Mart Stores. But several manufactures have quit making VCRs. Brian Lucas, a spokesman for Best Buy, said that the retailer carries less than 10 models of standalone VCRs now. Ten years ago, it carried more than two dozen."
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TiVo Buries the VCR

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  • by bennomatic (691188) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @06:53AM (#13796566) Homepage
    ...the iTunes Video Store being played on Macs with Front Row. Not to mention commuters watching their favorite shows on the train in the mornings and evenings.
    • Meant to say that commuters will be watching on their new iPods...
    • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:05AM (#13796594) Journal
      I don't see it myself. Unless the content can be enlarged to tv-size (and there are very large televisions out there ;) But let's say your average sized one) with no degredation (well, no quality-loss that a human can perceive anyway), I can't see the Itunes Video Store taking off. While it might be good to watch it on a small screen for those who have a lot of shows with no time to watch them, most people will want something more lasting then something that can only be viewed on a small screen for their $2.
      • Agreed; however, I don't see any reason why they couldn't begin to offer shows in a higher-quality format if the store shows any promise.

        In a world where people pay $2.00 for a ring tone that sounds like crap and will expire in 90 days, I think it's likely that a significant population will be very willing to pay for video downloads in a pretty significant volume.

        Even if just a million people download a couple of TV shows a year--and I'll bet it'll be a lot more than that--Apple will be able to convince

        • Yeah man. Lost has what, 4 eppisodes per month? so thats $2 per show x 4 =$8/month to watch lost. I am paying like $60/mo for fucking cable and there is nothing ever on! I could get Lost, Prison Break, Surviror, and Numb3rs for $32/month and watch them with no comercials, anywhere I want to. If I wasn't too cheep to buy the Video IPod...

          Oh well back to downloading torrents.....
          • ...it would be really wise of Jobs and Co (meaning the TV/movie studios) to try to figure out a way to embrace BitTorrent (or some similar technology) to distribute those mountains of data. Heck; why pay Akamai to ship all that crap out if they can build torrenting into iTunes. Maybe give people a discount on purchasing certain media if they are willing to torrent it out to new buyers...
          • you don't need an ipod/video ipod to download the shows... just itunes...
      • I don't see it myself. Unless the content can be enlarged to tv-size (and there are very large televisions out there ;)

        Unless the sound from the iPod comes from 5.1 surround sound with subwoofers capable of rattling your fillings, the use of an iPod for music listening will never take off. Most people will want more than simplistic headphone playback for the songs they buy for $0.99.

        • Aaah, but your post ignores the fact that portable music have been around for quite some time, much longer then subwoofers and dolby digital surround have been common place. People became use to listening to their music with shitty quality long ago.

          Portable tvs (the hand-held ones) on the other hand never took off anywhere near as much. I doubt very much that Apple will be able to make a large difference on this (for any sustained period of time).
          • I do not disagree with your comment. However, I do note that portable TVs are an analogy for portable radios, not portable video players.

            One reason portable TVs never took off was the reception problems inherent in receiving TV signals. Portable video players do not have those reception problems.

      • and there are very large televisions out there ;)

        Yes, I was always confused by the message, "this film has been formatted to fit your screen". I mean, how do they know how large my screen is? ;-)
      • Unless the content can be enlarged to tv-size (and there are very large televisions out there ;) But let's say your average sized one) with no degredation (well, no quality-loss that a human can perceive anyway), I can't see the Itunes Video Store taking off.

        At some point, the content will be TV-sized with no loss of quality. Bandwidth and storage sizes are increasing at an exponential rate (see this [useit.com] and this [sciam.com]). In five or ten years, I'd be surprised if cheap, extremely high-resolution TV shows and movie

        • In five or ten years

          And if Apple is still providing this service in 5 or 10 years then that will be great. But with the way the article was talking, VCRs will die much sooner then that. Apple's Itunes Video Service won't be a serious alternative for VCRs in the next couple of years.
      • I would imagine that the files from the iTunes video store will blow up on the TV just as well if not better than VHS would. H.264 (assuming that is the core format inside the DRM of the files from the iTunes store) is an amazing codec and a 40-45 minute show in better than VHS resolution can fit in 400megs, and that is in progressive scan 24fps mode, which will look nice on TVs that support it. Of course, it is speculation until we start seeing reports of the file sizes and quality of the iTunes videos.
    • ...the iTunes Video Store being played on Macs with Front Row. Not to mention commuters watching their favorite shows on the train in the mornings and evenings.

      On Thursdays alone we record 7 different TV shows on our DirecTivo. *IF* I was paying Tivo ($13/mo) for their service (I only pay Tivo $5/mo extra -- it's free for the year though) I would have made back the cost that iTMS required in one day.

      Let's look at a week's worth of shows. 37 shows a week are recorded (on your average Fall season week). Th
      • Woah nelly! Up till that post, nobody looked like an ass.

        I was just posting my opinion, based on my own TV viewing habits. I had forgotten that the national average TV watching time was 7 hours. Of the shows I really don't want to miss, I think I have about 2 hours a week these days. Occasionally, that changes, but if I never have to program anything, never have to worry about a system breaking or a power outage causing me to miss a program, I'd be willing to pay a little more, especially if it lets m

    • I predict that TiVo will be buried as their target market (mostly geeks and gadget lovers) becomes less and less interested with the crap on television, even with the help of a TiVo to help filter it out.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nekojin (855341)
    They still make them? Most media stores have relegated all their VHS stock to a single shelf at basement prices. I understand that many people still have VHS because the new-fangled 'tech' of the DVD scares them, but it's getting to the point now where you simply can't find tapes to play anymore. TiVo has the right idea on this one, although I hope they weren't saying they were the replacement for the VCR.
    • I never bought a movie on video because of the degradation you get after playing the thing a couple of times. The quality is crap, the audio is shocking and the tapes are huge.

      On the other hand, the DVD format is perfect. My wife and I just watched the whole series of Dr Who on the laptop. You can buy old movies for pocket change, they don't take up half your house and they'll still be watchable in 5-10 years.

      Die, VCR, die. You will not be missed.
      • "My wife and I just watched the whole series of Dr Who on the laptop."

        Considering the number of Dr Who programs made you must have now been married a long time. Congratulations :-) Now you may both need treatment for neck injury and deep vein thrombosis after all that time sat in front of a laptop.
        • Ah. I meant the first series of Dr Who which she's ever expressed an interest in... ie, the new, revised, less-wobbly-sets episodes. But I think you guessed that ;-)

          Trust me, when they release a boxed (20' container, probably) set of Dr Who featuring my own faves - Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker - then I'll be worried about DVT.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 15, 2005 @06:56AM (#13796576)

    One might think considering how fast they are loosing the customer base.
    • My bet is that Tivo is going to die before the VCR. The VCR still lets me play anything I like, the way I want it. This is a feature which Tivo is lacking.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @06:59AM (#13796584) Journal
    Brian Lucas, a spokesman for Best Buy, said that the retailer carries less than 10 models of standalone VCRs now. Ten years ago, it carried more than two dozen.

    Uh-huh. That's certainly a guarded comment (designed to make the death of the VCR look like it will occur much sooner then it will), how many models of VCR-included technology does the retailer have?

    The amount of models isn't even that important, it's how many are being sold (and if they've made them last longer, even that isn't as important, although I doubt that they've improved it's longevity somehow).

    The amount of people using alternate technologies to VCR's, while it's increased, is far from dominant in any market. And I'd hardly say that the VCR market is fragile. While VCRs with content are becoming less and less common, blank VCRs are still the most common (along with cheapest and easiest) method of recording content off the television. And Tivo can't expect to lead (or even be a major player) in the next generation of recording technology if they continue their trend of putting content disseminators before their customers.

    In summary, the article twists facts to make VCRs look like they're going to become extinct much sooner then they actually will, and Tivo will need a HELL of a lot more publicity stunts if they continue with their current trend of kowtowing to content disseminators and hurting their customers.
    • I agree, Tivo aren't the right people to bury the VCR, their offering is too crappy. If MythTV was a little easier to install (I did it, but some people may have trouble) and get working with all your hardware, and hardware was super-cheap and small, it would be perfect. I suspect prebuilt ms mediacenter (ugh) and prebuilt myth boxes to some extent will eventually bury the VCR. When everyone has transferred all their home vids to dvd or disk...

      --
      free Palm games [arpx.net]
    • Good point - all the vcr's I've ever bought still work just fine :).
  • it works.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chulo (711610)
    if it's a matter of whether it skips or tracks, i'll take the tracking any day. there's much improvement to be done on current dvd pla¥ers. i'd rather take a tracked out scene rather than a scratched out scene. not that i'd switch to win95 before osx
    • Re:it works.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      there's much improvement to be done on current dvd players.

      Buy a real DVD player, not the $19 Wallyworld special.

      With decent error compensation, a badly scratched DVD player gives basically the same effect as a badly worn section of tape - Sure, you get digital crap instead of analog crap (I personally prefer static over giant blocky colors), but it doesn't need to skip.

      Though admittedly, tape has a nice suit of armor, and only has one small section exposed at a time. I've always considered that one
      • Of note, my $110 Toshiba HDMI-Upconvert DVD player is less functional than my $30 Apex DVD player from Christmas Past 4 Years Ago.

        Skips to shit or blocks while playing any sort of burned disc. Doesn't play MP3 files or JPEG burned to a directory structure as my old player did. Does honor region-coding, unlike that little player. Does honor required sections (the no-skip parts) whereas the Apex player did not.

        I don't have an HDTV, I bought the player in expectation, but I am thinking it was a mistake to go f
  • by hazee (728152) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:04AM (#13796592)
    I like my VCR. It records what I tell it to. I don't have to put up with any crap about shows deleting themselves, or not being allowed to record them in the first place. I don't have to connect it to a phone line. I don't have to pay any sort of subscription fee. It lets me skip through any bits I don't want to see. It was dirt cheap to buy and operate. I have unlimited storage capacity. I can buy movies cheaper than any DVD, and that fill the frame of my cheap 4:3 TV.

    Explain to me again, why is the VCR dead?
    • I don't have to connect it to a phone line.

      You clearly have an internet connection, which is all you need for TiVo.

      It was dirt cheap to buy and operate. I have unlimited storage capacity.

      Those are mutually exclusive: if you want "unlimited" storage capacity, you have to keep buying more tapes. Sure, you can reuse tapes, but you can reuse space on a DVR much more effectively.

      I can buy movies cheaper than any DVD, and that fill the frame of my cheap 4:3 TV.

      Even on my cheap 4:3 TV, I prefer to watch widescreen
    • I like my VCR. It records what I tell it to. I don't have to put up with any crap about shows deleting themselves, or not being allowed to record them in the first place

      My only issues with the VHS VCR are space and quality. Those takes are freaky bulky in contrast to a DVD in a longbox, or better yet standard jewel. Slim jewels or quadjewels are where it's at if you collect series. Pre-recorded tapes are not too shabby, but recording anything in SLP mode is total crap, LP recording isn't supported all tha
      • I would have been less annoyed with VHS if SVHS was slowly worked into consumer units.

        It was, wasn't it? I know I bought a consumer SVHS deck years ago (at least 5 years ago), and it wasn't exactly expensive. It wasn't as cheap as a normal deck, but that was ok because it had a better build quality than your average deck too. Also, I guess because it's towards the high end, they didn't keep playing yo-yo with the features all the time ("We've decided you don't want tape remaining indicators...this ye

    • Actually, Tivo units retain some functionality even if you don't have a subscription, contrary to popular belief. You can still get a three-day program guide, record shows manually, and do all of the standard pause/rewind/fast-forward features. Does your VCR have a three-day program guide, with which you can select shows by name (and not by time/channel)? Does it allow you to pause or rewind live TV? Does it allow you to store 80+ hours of manual recordings?
      • Not all Tivos get a 3-day programming quide.

        Mine doesn't, why my girlfriends does. Here's is a Toshiba DVD/Tivo unit. As I understand Toshiba required that the units retained some functionality; but a pure Tivo unit doesn't.
  • VHS is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kawahee (901497) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:08AM (#13796597) Homepage Journal
    I think this is just another nail in the coffin for VHS, with TiVo and DVD-Rs common methods for recording television broadcasts. I'd say that VHS is going to be around for as long as people have home videos and the like on tapes, or until it becomes unreasonable for stores to sell VCRs at rock bottom prices.

    I think quite a large potential market here is the hybrid system (VHS/DVD player), which is what my mother bought because she was afraid of DVDs. Nowadays she rents DVDs only, if the movie is on VHS she is cautious to rent it because she knows how bad the quality will (most likely) be.

    Our school has also readily adopted DVDs and purchased a bunch of Macs for video editing and DVD burning, although I personally prefer an XP machine with Adobe Encore, it's a sign of the times.

    Although I personally prefer to get my movies delivered direct through my Bittorrent and P2P.
  • It's "fewer than 10 models".
    • It's "fewer than 10 models".

      Judging by what I saw at the Best Buy here when I went to buy another VCR a couple of weeks ago it's a lot fewer, like 2, a Panasonic and a Sony.

      Note that I'm referring to VCR only models, not the VCR/DVD combo units.

      Speaking of VCRs, never, ever, buy anything made by Daewoo. Ever.

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheBrutalTruth (890948) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:17AM (#13796613)
    The more restrictive and pervasive DRM gets, I for one am sure to keep a good 'ol VCR and analog TV around. Not as good as DVD, or HD - but hell, it works just fine. I am a "quality" snob, but I will not surrender my Fair Use rights for that quality.
    • Re:DRM (Score:3, Interesting)

      by captaineo (87164)
      Even better if you can find a "pre-ban" VCR without the Macrovision chip (which was required by law starting in the 90s, I think). I have two of them and it will be a sad day when they finally wear out...
  • And I was totally unaware that we make VCRs. We're an optical drive company, after all. We have one consumer electronics unit that plays VHS, but that's because it was designed to record them to DVD.

    Anyway, I figure VCRs will last quite some time yet. Hell, even cassette decks still have their uses. Plus, VHS tapes are still way more convenient and familiar to most people than either recorded DVDs or TiVos. I'm sure companies will still be making them 30 years from now.
  • Hubris (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:23AM (#13796621) Journal
    Given Tivo's past [slashdot.org] mis-steps [slashdot.org], it shouldn't be too long before we see Tivo's funeral.
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:25AM (#13796625)
    The reason I've kept my VCR so long is that my older TV only accepts Coax input. That makes watching anything besides Cable impossible -- unless you use the VCR's built-in RF Modulator to hook up modern devices that have composite video (like a DVD player) to the A/V input. Just change the VCR channel to "Input" or "Line" and Viola! DVDs, consoles and Camcorders are now fully useable on the older but still functional TV.
  • Have vs USE (Score:5, Funny)

    by mac123 (25118) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @07:48AM (#13796655)
    >>Some 97 million households still have at least one VCR, according to the International Recording Media Association.

    I have three....count 'em THREE VCRs still plugged in, taking power and giving me the time very reliably.

    With 2 Tivos, when was the last time a VCR tape actually spun in one of these 3 decks? Over 3 years ago.

    The tapes are loud, look like crap, and are unwieldy on the shelf. I don't even know where I buried the tapes.

    Why don't DVD players display the time on the front? Then I could get rid of the clock/VCRs :-)
    • Most people have no clue how to set the time. OTOH, I do, and I have one such clock, just like you. ;) The DVD industry is protecting people from stupidity. :) Also, modern VCRs can set themselves from time signals broadcast in some station's blanking interval, but DVD players are far less likely to be hooked up to such a network.
  • OK, so does anybody actually know of a device that's basically just the equivalent of a vcr with a hard drive? Sure, having the super duper tv guide on the tivo is cool, but it's not $15 a month cool.

    What I would ideally like is just something that I can set my own programs for, just like a vcr, and it records them. Then, I can watch them later; just like a vcr, except with a hard drive. I can set the time on my own, thank you very much, and set up my own recording times. If the tivo box allowed me to do th
    • by Harker (96598)
      Well...

      There [solarpc.com] are a [d1.com.au] few [mythic.tv] companies doing just that. The prices are much more than 299 though. It would be cheaper to build it yourself, or even to find a friendly linux geek who will do it for kicks for you, or for a little bit of money.

      You'd still have to put out for the parts.

      I'm purchasing my own bits and pieces to build a MythTV box little by little. It does take some time, but I think it'll be worth it in the end.

      H.
    • OK, so does anybody actually know of a device that's basically just the equivalent of a vcr with a hard drive? Sure, having the super duper tv guide on the tivo is cool, but it's not $15 a month cool.

      Why not go with a digital VHS deck or DVD recorder?

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000ACY2B/104-22 47805-7425544?v=glance&n=172282&n=507846&s=electro nics&v=glance [amazon.com]
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000 6GWIJO/qid=1129380861/sr=8-7/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i4_xgl 23/104-2247805-7425544?v=gla [amazon.com]
    • Tivo will let you do this, at least the older version I have will. You can set it to record manually for a given amount of time on a given channel without paying any subscription fee. If that's all you want it for, just pick up an old one used on ebay or something. I'm sure you could get one incredibly cheap.
    • "If the tivo box allowed me to do that without having to pay their stupid subscription fee, then I would have bought one already. Sure, I wouldn't have their tv guide and preference matching and all that fancy shit, but I really don't care. If the tivo box would just let me set some start and end times to record, they would have made some money off of me."

      Unless something significant has changed, that is *exactly* what Tivo does. The unit doesn't stop working when you don't have a subscription. You just d
    • You want one of these:

      Australian FTA SD digital version [topfield-a...lia.com.au], UK SD digital FTA version [turbosat.com], European SD digital satellite version [topfield.co.kr]. Twin digital tuners (record 1 channel, watch another; record 2 channels, watch a previous recording), USB connection so you can download recordings to a PC to burn to DVD, and upgradeable HDD (400GB & beyond).

      Toshiba sell a similar HD PVR [castel.com.au] in Australia, but it's (a) buggy, (b) lacking some of the dual-recording features, (c) lacking the PC connection, and (d) not upgradeable as far a
  • ...at least here in the UK where Tivo stopped selling hardware quite some time ago, and show no signs of starting again.

    Which pisses me off, because I really want one, but a new one. Yeah, I can ebay an old one. Yeah, there's alternatives. But as far as I know the original is still supposed to be the best. I want it! :(
    • ...at least here in the UK where Tivo stopped selling hardware quite some time ago, and show no signs of starting again.

      Which pisses me off, because I really want one, but a new one. Yeah, I can ebay an old one. Yeah, there's alternatives. But as far as I know the original is still supposed to be the best. I want it! :(
      I'm not sure you should bother. As I've said earlier, after the analog switchoff in a few years, it probably wouldn't be terribly useful. If you can get Freeview, you should probably hop
  • by jbarr (2233) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:06AM (#13796684) Homepage
    Some 97 million households still have at least one VCR...
    But how many households actually use them? Yes, you can record with a VCR, so certainly the DVR has killed the VCR recording market, but it is the DVD player that has truely killed the VCR market--in a much greater way than TiVo.

    That said, I simply couldn't live without my ReplayTV and Moxi DVRs!

    -Jim
    http://gmailtips.com/ [gmailtips.com]
    http://jimstips.com/ [jimstips.com]
  • It wasn't a TiVo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dragon_imp (685750)
    My home theater PC with SageTV, 3 tuners and 800GB buried my VCRs.
  • by rklrkl (554527) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:27AM (#13796710) Homepage
    As usual, this posting is heavily US-biased - for example, in the UK, Tivo no longer exists (they pulled out a couple of years ago) and DirectTV never existed. The largest electrical retailer in the UK, Dixons, pulled VCRs from its shelves over 9 months ago [bbc.co.uk].

    The bigger story is how mutiple brands of hard disk recorders (whether Sky+ bought with your digital satellite service or standalone units) and, to a lesser extent, DVD recorders are rapidly replacing VHS. I've found that DVD recorders offer little more than VHS recorders really - whilst you tend to have a higher quality picture and random access, it's also slower to actually start recording on a DVD recorder and the media is, ironically, less reliable than VHS (very susceptible to scratches for instance).

    Whilst Tivo is right that hard disk recorders are ushering in the death of VHS, they've got a lot of competition, particularly outside the US, where Tivo seems to have no presence at all now. Also, don't forget Net downloading, which doesn't require an overpriced "Windows Media PC" to do it either.

  • Despite it's terrible picture quality, VHS is still very useful for professionals during editing.

    If you need to show the work in progress to someone, the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way is to output from your Final Cut/Avid to VHS.

    Sure, you could make a DVD, but many editors don't know how to do that, and if they do know, they just don't have the time for it. The VHS is done in real time, and you can be sure there will be a player for it, and the tape will just play in it.

    With a DVD, it will take at
    • Outputting from Final Cut to DV tape is trivial. Outputting from Final Cut to DVD is two steps. Outputting from Final Cut to VHS is a royal PITA, and it's usually easier to go from Final Cut to DVD and then DVD to VHS. The only time I've had problems playing a home-made DVD was when I bought some cheap DVD-Rs from SCAN, which were slightly less reliable than a notebook made of toilet paper.
  • ...as long as Netcraft [netcraft.com] doesn't confirm it!
  • by N8F8 (4562) on Saturday October 15, 2005 @08:34AM (#13796718)
    Good thing you picked up the story or the idiot who came up with this publicity stunt would be out of a job.
  • VCRs won't die too soon. We still use ours for taping a lot of shows. There's a lot of racket about broadcast flags, and how maybe the Tivos of the future may not be able to record certain shows. Really, the VCR still does the job quite well, and i don't have to worry about them blocking shows.
  • . . . not literally, but in the memory of those who were there for the porn revolution.

    I will never forget the night I went to a friend's party and he had a tape of "Deep Throat" in his dad's new $750 VCR. We had never seen anything remotely like it; in fact, I knew hardly anyone who even had a VCR. Everyone was watching, including the girls. I remember going to a couple of "porno parties" later that year and watching "Debbie Does Dallas" while seated between two gorgeous, totally enthralled cheerleader

  • I bought it for about $50 four years ago. I don't watch movies on it, but I record shows. The stock is dirt-cheap, but since I'm only going to watch stuff once and then tape over it, I'm not going to waste $200 on a TiVo and $15 a month for the privelege of using their interface. (I don't need shows suggested to me; I know what I want to watch.)

    VCRs will be around until there is a cheap DVR out there that doesn't need monthly fees. Why? Because there will always be grad students with TV addictions.

  • Since they now have a dirt cheap DVD recorder (made by Ilo) for less than $100, it's looking more like VHS may give way to DVD-+R/W.

    Not only does Tivo cost twice as much as the DVD recorder, it's priced (obviously) far higher than VCRs. Add to that the fact that you have to pay for a service fee, and those costs pile up. Maybe I'm not old enough to be in that "My grandchildren know more how to program my VCR than I do" group, but I don't need, nor want, my home video recorder to phone home every time I want
  • VCR's aren't sold on a subscription basis.

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