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Handhelds Software Hardware Linux

Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 Reviewed 133

Bill Kendrick writes "Sharp's hard-drive-packing SL-C3000 model Zaurus (available in the U.S. from Dynamism) has been reviewed by BargainPDA. They cover the differences between this one and earlier, similar models, and even go over some of the stuff interesting to Linux users."
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Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 Reviewed

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  • BargainPDA

    I love my Zaurus C 760, but it's hardly a bargain... yet it's worth every cent I paid.
  • Autonomy ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mirko ( 198274 )
    A year ago I sold my SL-5500 because it couldn't stay on batteries for more than 1h30, how far has it improved, now ?
    • Re:Autonomy ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @01:15PM (#11409483) Homepage
      The 5600 can more than double that if you can find one on ebay. The review says that the sl-c3000 lasted about 6 hours of article editing before getting a low-battery warning. My experience with my new zaurus 6000 unit seems to confirm this. However, using the wireless card will cut battery life in half -- or it used to on mine -- I've since adapted the diald program to automatically turn on & off the wireless card after 15 seconds of inactivity, which brings the battery life back up to normal.
      Also, it all depends on how bright you make the display. I'm not sure about the c3000, but on the 6000 if I have the brightness set up all the way it hurts my eyes. I have to turn it down a couple of notches, unless I'm outdoors. Even then, the backlight is only needed if your in the shade (i.e., a lot of ambient light), but in direct sunlight the screen seems to be quiet readable.
  • but does it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <<moc.oohay.MAPS> <ta> <aaaaa>> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:43PM (#11409138) Journal
    run linux? Seriously, anyone know if there is a siginificant difference in performance using the default installation and an open embedded build of linux?
    • Re:but does it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cyn ( 50070 ) <cyn.cyn@org> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:54PM (#11409268) Homepage
      Performance isn't the most important thing, by far, between ROMs. That said, I would say no there's not a particular performance change between ROMs. The important difference, is the usability.

      An OpenZaurus installation (built by OE) would actually look pleasing and be functional. I have a c700 and a c760, and neither of them dares to touch the Sharp ROM.

      Unless they've made leaps and bounds - the Sharp ROM addressbook is still beyond useless, not to mention a host of other lackings in all things. The only thing Sharp ROM has going for it above OZ is full hardware support (specifically, the ok/cancel buttons on the side of the device - and the 'jogwheel' equivalent).

      However, if you just want to write text notes and read electronic books, sharprom should do you fine.
      • Re:but does it (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @01:29PM (#11409657) Homepage
        how silly.

        I have SEVERAL SL5500's in use and the addressbook is not that bad, and you also gloss over the fact that you can load a different addressbook app on it, but you lose all sync functionality.

        also I do things with my Z's that palm and windows based Owners only dream of doing.

        finally being able to beam contact information to PALM -or- windows pda users is awesome, the salespeople here have discovered that the built in apps are more than useable, the pocket Office compatability apps are extremely useful and the very large selection of free software for all the sharp SL pda's will significantly increase your useability.

        We have barcode scanner cards in the CF slot on ours. The custom software for the sharp devices was 10X easier to write and interface to the master server than any PALM device. (I know I also wrote the app here for our old Palm+barcode scanner devices.)

        coupled with the fact that Z's + the CF card are 1/5th the price of the insanely overpriced PALM or windowsCE or pocket PC units with barcode scanner built in I can keep 5 units in the shelf as emergency replacements when the other units get broken or lost.

        I am looking to upgrade to the C700 series (you can get them for around $300.00 now) when we roll out these devices to all 20 salespeople here in the office.

        so IF 5 sales people and 1 PHB has no problems with the sharp rom apps, I would simply guess you are simply jaded against it because it does not work theway YOU want it.

        and they certianly are doing much more than reading electronic books, and writing text notes.
        • That's funny. I haven't had SharpROM loaded for quite some time, so I can't exactly relate the problem - but it was basically "default list view shows name and phone numbers, and there's no way to enter phone numbers". Essentially, it asked a bunch of DATING information (gender, birth date, job description, etc.), and had a button that opened a large comment field.

          I could beam stuff over from my phone, and it populated the fields, but there was nowhere to change or view the information other than the li
          • Very odd. I have a C860 with stock Sharp ROM (v 1.40 JP), personally converted to English. I have no problem entering data (including phone numbers) into the default Address Book. The app, and the default calendar app, are OK, but I prefer the KDE PIM ports (KAddressbook and KOrganizer).
          • To edit a contact item:

            1) Select/tap the contact to bring up the summary view.

            2) Select/tap the edit icon in the upper right corner( just below the titlebar Help and Exit buttons ).

            Geesh, that was hard. NOT. As a matter of fact, if you tapped the Help button( icon="?" ) from the summary view, you could have read how to edit your contacts there. This is in the owner manual on page 49 AND if you looked at the "Data" menu you'd see it has an "Edit" menu item. How many ways to edit contacts do you need? ;-)
            • Wow, it's almost like you didn't even read what I said at all!

              You've been around /. a while I see. still, RTFA != RTFP. Give it a whirl sometime.
              • I read your post and just read it over a few times but I guess what you are talking about is out of my reach. I've used and developed for the Zaurus since the beta 5000 version came out but I must be a dummy and can't figure out what you are talking about... good luck.

    • but does it run linux? Seriously, anyone know if there is a siginificant difference in performance using the default installation and an open embedded build of linux?

      It already runs embedded linux... so I would guess that there is no significant difference between running linux and running linux on this box?
  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:43PM (#11409142) Homepage Journal
    After all the hardware, software and support issues I've had with the Palm T2, I can't imagine a PDA that's worse.

    I'm never buying another Palm Pilot again. []
    • And it runs Nethack (Score:5, Informative)

      by doublem ( 118724 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:47PM (#11409194) Homepage Journal
      The sharp runs Nethack, but the Palm does not.

      The project to port nethack to Palm dies. Seems no one could get it to work, since the Palm API is so limited.

      QT Nethack on the Sharp Zaurus though, I hear that works.

      Damn, I can't wait to have the cash to trade in this damn Palm for something that WORKS, even if it doesn't work very well.
      • To be fair, the last update was four years ago, and the Palm API has advanced considerably since then (especially in ways that make it easier to port POSIX style programs to the very different PalmOS).

        If you're interested in Moria, Larn and Rogue on Palm, you do have other options [].


        • I've been playing iRouge for a while now. I still prefer Nethack, but iRouge will do.

          Ironically, until the hardware problems began with my latest Palm Pilot, a T2, I was thinking of doing a Nethack -> Palm port as a project to learn Palm Pilot programming. Sadly, it looks like most of the API changes that would make such a port possible are for the Post 5.x versions of the Palm OS, which means I'd be developing a program I myself wouldn't be able to run.
          • Yup. Until very very recently I was using a Palm IIIc (an *excellent* screen for eBook reading; blocky but crisp is surprisingly good). The API isn't so much limited as different, completely oriented toward a different method of computing. For traditional applications, it is neigh impossible, which makes porting nearly impossible without a major rewrite.

            5.x+ paired with external memory gives you a much more traditional environment (assuming you're used to the Unix/DOS/Windows heritage, which accounts fo

            • So the question is, would it be possible to port Nethack to it?

              Assuming Palm resolves the errors I'm getting now, I might be tempted to give such a port a try. It's been a couple years since I looked into Palm development. Any recommendations on what toolkits to start with, assuming a minimal to no cash investment?
              • Remember how I said that, until recently I was using a Palm IIIc? I've yet to program for a recent Palm device, although I'm planning on getting the Treo 650 when TMobile releases it. I have, however, read through the documentation for 5.x and programmed for 3.5, so I think I can answer:

                To 5.x+ with external memory? Yes. Not coincidently, you'll note that there are many ported and/or recent apps that have that same pair of requirements. External memory is a must to do fopen() or read() style file acce

                • Ask me in a month or two when I have my Treo.

                  Date: 3-20-2005
                  Subject: Re: Treo

                  Sold it on ebay.

                  My copy of the Windows Powered Dev kit arrived a couple weeks ago. So far, it's going well.

                  >Date: 3-19-2005
                  >Subject: Treo
                  >So, how's your Palm Doorstop working these days?
                  • Heh. I have an iPaq... it was what I used to "replace" my Palm IIIc. I used it for a month, carried both for a month, and then went back to the Palm. I even tried Linux on the iPaq.

                    In my case, it was DateBk5 and the screen. That plus the "instant app jumping" feel of Palm. To a certain extent, Palm is the CLI of handheld interfaces - less sexy and a bit more terse, but in the hands of a skilled user, it can do the things you really need really well. If I need a laptop, I'll pull mine out. Short of t

                    • I agree. Even installing and uninstalling applications is fairly simple and straight forward.

                      When it works.

                      I'm just frustrated with the error messages when I try to do something like sync the damn thing.

                      Fortunately, Palm has finally given me the information to schedule a repair. Of course, if they try to charge ME for them to repair THEIR defective product, then I'll take them to small claims court for the cost of the device.

                      I can even understand an occasional defective device making it to a consumer,
                • There's been a file-streaming interface to palm main memory databases since 3.0 days, complete with open, create, seek etc. From the docs: "The File Streaming API is derived from the C programming language's stdio.h interface".

                  No 64Kb limit, no worrying about records: it's essentially a layer that sits on top of the traditional palmos databases. I can't really see there being much difference in difficulty in writing it for Palmos 5.0 or 3.5.

      • this probably has something to do with the fact that palmos6 will be linux-based
  • by chris09876 ( 643289 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:43PM (#11409148)
    It's too bad it doesn't come with built-in WiFi. That would really increase the usability of the device. WiFi is so prominent now, there should really be WiFi built into *everything*. (Yes, I want to be able to control my oven from work) :)
    • If I only had that Wi-Fi breadmaker...
    • Bluetooth would be more to the point. WiFi only works if you're near a hotspot. With Bluetooth, you can network through your cell phone and control your oven from anwhere you can see a cell phone tower.

      WiFi is fine for laptops. To use a laptop, you at least need a chair, and preferrably a table. Whoever provides you with these conveniences is probably going to go the extra 500 meters and give you a hotspot as well. But for a device you use while standing on a street corner, you want Bluetooth.

    • Not built in means easier upgrading, and you can get a wifi card for it.

      Spent this morning looking at the zauruses, just put in a PO for an SL-C860.

    • by bloggins02 ( 468782 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @01:47PM (#11409870)
      Yes, I want to be able to control my oven from work

      The fire department called, they want your SSID.
  • Shipping? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperDJ ( 809957 ) *
    The Sharp Zaurus ships direct to you from Japan, arriving in about 3 business days. We do accept returns within 5 days. Well that gives me plenty of time to get it back in those 5 days, eh? Looks awesome, though. If I only wouldn't have bought that camera...Heh
  • Nice units, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
    Zaurus are nice units, but the battery life seems rather short. I picked up one of those SL 5600s off the home shopping thingamabob, with the $25 discount for first-time buyer, etc. Nice unit, but after using it for a few months the battery would hold a charge for noticibly shorter lenght of time.

    Has anyone a recommendation on a better source of batteries for these puppies?

    I'd have it with me at work, but it's run down again.

    • My suggestion would be to get a palm....

      Seriously. I loved my Zaurus. Used it for over a year. But I just got sick of being a slave to the charger and having to constrain what I used it for during the day because of the battery life.

      If you have to carry a battery charger with you (as I did) there's something wrong with your "PDA". So I went back to Palm. Simple, does the basic things I need it to do. Syncs with Linux.
    • actually, I have an SL-6000L and using the thing with the build-in wireless + minimum backlit(still pretty bright) it lasts for about a big 3 hours... not using wireless... a lot more... another thing.. the PSU provides 2amps at 5volts. the device takes a maximum of 5.4watts (2.6 on battery) so an external battery pack is feasable.. I can recharge mine easy on a 4pack of NiMh 2300mAH penlites (AA).. haven't tried charing it twice.. but I hear that works.
  • by koi88 ( 640490 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:45PM (#11409180)

    I'm running BSD on my Zaurus [], you insensitive clod!
  • Stuff interesting to Linux users:
    <831 lines deleted>
    c596f000 __insmod_p80211_O/lib/modules.rom/2.4.20/net/p802 1 1.o_M4138646F_V132116[p80211]
    c596f060 __insmod_p80211_S.text_L14776[p80211]
    c5972a18 __insmod_p80211_S.rodata_L2884[p80211]
    c59736fc __insmod_p80211_S.data_L228[p80211]
    c59737e0 __insmod_p80211_S.bss_L20[p80211]
    <359 lines deleted>

    What, no raw memory dump?! As a Linux user who finds this interesting I am appalled!

  • that new zaurus is tasty, but i'm holding out for an oqo [] with debian. that would be delicious... anyone working on porting the stylus drivers or the screen sizing with x11 (or any drivers for that matter) for the oqo to deb yet?

  • Great product (Score:5, Informative)

    by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @12:53PM (#11409261) Homepage
    The Zaurus is a fantastic product. It's best use for me is on economy flights (no one has enough air miles to fly decently all the time) where the seat pitch is just too damn small for my powerbook.

    It's got enough power and battery life for me to do a bit of coding (well code review, the keyboard is ok for edits but not writing huge chunks) and with a 4gb CF disk in it (I currently have one ripped from another device - but the new solution is nicer) more than enough movies to keep you going.

    Mine manages ~10 hours or ~5 watching films, but spare batteries are pretty cheap at ~$100 each, and higher capacity than the default one on my model too.

    If you do get one INSTALL VIM FOLDNIG EXTENSIONS! Or the same for emacs if you prefer. Folding editors make life easy on big screens, on a small screen they are invaluable.
    • but spare batteries are pretty cheap at ~$100 each

      uhh $100 for a battery isn't cheap. Thats 1/4 the price of the PDA. Palm,pocketpc batteries are around $40. For $100 I can get a battery for a laptop.

      • Thats 1/4 the price of the PDA.

        Not when you're talking about one of these things. The SL-C3000 isn't much cheaper than a low-end laptop, at $819 from Dynamism.
      • agreed. They are a ton of places on the net or ebay where I have paid $15 for cell phone and camera Lithium-ion batteries and $50 for notebook batteries (all new but aftermarket). We've been getting scammed for years on batteries.
  • Dale Rahn and others are actively porting OpenBSD [] to this little machine
  • That pretty much says it all.

    I need my mobile device to support either imap or ssh (preferably both), and have it support SyncML for calandars, contacts...all the good stuff.

    Without SyncML a mobile device is useless to me. :(
    • I have a Nokia 3650 that has SyncML...

      But so far, the ONLY thing I have found that can work with it is Mobical [], which is a great site for saving your contacts.

      I really want to be able to sync my contacts with Mozilla Address Book or Evolution. But so far, MS Outlook (running on my Windows laptop) is the only app I can sync with... and that's without using SyncML. The Nokia PC Suite Software (a Windows) app lets me sync with Outlook, and a few other legacy programs.

      I look forward to the day that Sync

  • Target audience? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 )
    This thing is neat-o, and all that, but for 819 bucks?

    So it's, roughly, the size of a Nintendo DS? 4.9x3.4x1.0 inches.

    I'm just wondering, for the price, what would make this a better buy than a really tiny laptop? I've seen ultra-mini laptops that aren't much more than 8" wide.

    It's not small enough to fit in your pocket, but would you really want this zaurus, with it's HDD, bouncing around in your pocket?

    Can this thing be a USB host, (Can't tell from TFA), so you could possibly plug in an external HD
    • Yes, the SLC3000 has USB host port. Yes, you can plug in an external USB HDD (just like you can on an SL6000). You can even plug in a USB mouse and use that instead of a stylus.

  • because it has a HD.
  • Main differences (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cyn ( 50070 ) <cyn.cyn@org> on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @01:02PM (#11409355) Homepage
    The main differences between this model and the older clamshells can be summed up as such:

    * 4gb internal hard drive (3.6gb formatted, 2.9 user)
    * Less internal ROM - 16 instead of 32 or 64 (or 128 for c860? - don't quote me on that)
    * USB Host (poorly supported)

    As most would argue, given that it's a PDA (constantly mobile) and flash memory is pretty damned cheap - AND that the hard drive isn't exactly easily upgraded . . . the hard drive is mostly a non feature. (mostly - the sd driver is a bit of arse, and binary only - so 4 gigs always in your Zaurus with the CF still open does still have advantages... but it has moving parts - so it has disadvantages....)

    So, the main feature of note over the older models is USB host. If you don't need that, you're likely better off enjoying the price cut on older models (where still available).

    Still - it would be nice to have 4gigs + CF open without having to touch that stupid buggy binary SD driver.
    • Flash has a very limited lifetime. For a computer's main memory, I'd prefer a hard drive over flash. Both my camera and my mp3 player use a hard drive, and I've had no problems.
    • Re:Main differences (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bungo ( 50628 )
      Sorry, I can't agree with you. The main feature is the hard disk,
      not the usb.

      I've just instaled gcc on my c3000, a full uncompressed install,
      abd next I'll be downloading some software and be compiling
      on the c3000 itself.

      I'v already installed alot of other prepackages software on to
      the hard disk. If this was any other model, I would have had
      to used CF cards - and anyway, my CF slot is occupied
      by a d-link wireless card as I'm posting this from my c3000.

      With around 2.5g free space, that's a massive amount
      • (ripped from another posts summary, but it was mine so it's fine - I give myself permission)

        Put it this way: usb host, you slap a 5gig usb pendrive in, there's your hard drive space if you want it - cf still open, sd still open, no buggy sd driver.

        Now, the power requirements of that may, or may not, be reasonable - I can't say. I expect when usb pendrives are made, they show fairly little concern for power requirements.

        There's why I think USB host is a bigger feature.
      • I've just instaled gcc on my c3000, a full uncompressed install, abd next I'll be downloading some software and be compiling on the c3000 itself.
        So you want a development system in your pocket? Whatever turns you on. But that's not what most PDA users are looking for.
    • The hard drive is the main difference.

      The ROM in it (16) is about halfed from the ~32 in other models. But remember, this ROM is JUST for the ROM image, the base OS. Other models have internal flash memory (anywhere from 32-64, if I remember correctly) for user storage. The C3000 DOES NOT HAVE THIS. The hard drive is IN PLACE of that flash.

      And the SL-6000 has USB host, so the C3000 is not the first Zaurus to have it.
      • Yes, the SL-6000 has USB host - as well as builtin wifi - what's your point?

        The main differences between this model and the older clamshells can be summed up as such:

        From a clamshell user perspective, I am and was of the opinion that if one difference had to be noted, it would be the USB - for the aforementioned reasons (e.g. you can't reasonably get this with that). You could get a cf usb host adapter card previously, but then you're out your cf for wireless/etc. (although you could then use usb, we'
        • Sorry, I missed the part about "the older clamshells". I thought you were referring to the entire Zaurus line (in reference to the USB host, that is).

          And I doubt pendrive makers would care much how power-hungry they are... They *are* meant to be used on desktop or notebook systems, which often have power to spare, as opposed to a PDA.
  • I just tried several places trying to find a sub-$200usd zaurus. They listed both the SL-5500 and SL-5600 as possibly being that low. I'd love to know where as I'd love to get one..
  • When will companies realize: cool products are great, but they have a hard time selling.

    For that money, I can build a pretty decent PC... buy a Mac Mini... get more than one iPod... by several hundred iTunes....

    you get the idea. It's hard to justify.

    Especially when there are quite a few Windows PDA's, and Palm OS PDA's available.

    Hard to convince the consumer this is good.

    When someone creates the PDA hardware cheap...


    trust me on that. It's got all the potential. It's just the hardwa
    • Rubish - I've got a VTech Helio kicking around from a few years ago. Cost me £50 back then. Had a (for the time) superb CPU (80Mhz MIPS R3000). You could install Linux on it. It still bombed, even though it was cheap.

      Move along...
    • When will companies realize: cool products are great, but they have a hard time selling.

      Companies already have realized that. That's why they don't sell things like the Zaurus SL-C3000 in the US. US people spend their money on other toys (cars, lawnmowers, clothes, whatever) besides really slick electronics. The Japanease think these things are neat, and are willing to pay money for them.

  • I've posted a lot on this but it does seem to me that this hardware would be a very good start for an updated Apple Newton platform.

    Just add Wi-fi, Inkwell, good syncing, and use the BSD port as the base OS.

    I still want something smaller than a 12" powerbook that I can handwrite input.

  • Can anyone really write 120+wpm?

    I type 120+wpm and I probably write 15-30 wpm tops, and it's hardly legible... Who wants handwriting input for a good reason? I'd way rather have some kind of finger tracking non-corporeal natural keyboard.

  • Coincidentally, I had just decided that my next PDA had to be Linux-based. I've been using Palms for years, and always liked them. But I'm not impressed with the latest PalmOne offerings, and they no longer have any real competition for dedicated Palm-based PDAs. (I don't want a smart phone or a game gadget.) Plus my current m515 is showing signs that PalmOne and PalmSource no longer know what they're doing.

    First I got bit by the m5xx USB bug [] and had to buy a torx tool just to perform the necessary power

  • by DavonZ ( 13344 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2005 @01:57PM (#11410025) Homepage
    Please note that the Zaurus C3000 is shipped in a hybrid EnglishJapanese state to allow for the translation software to work. The ability to switch to a pure English translation is done by typing the following two commands into the terminal:


    After which the unit will reboot and be in an English only mode (Japanese Inputs remove, Input switching removed, Larger fonts, etc...).

    Typing the two commands again will revert the unit back into hybrid mode to allow for the translation software to work again.

    As well, please see the following forum post at ZaurusUserGroup for more information about the C3000 and its Issues/Solutions: 84 6

  • I want to point out that the Zaurus is a great for the Slashdot commuter. Yes, the CL3000 is expensive, but you can get almost the same machine (but different form factor and better screen) with an SL-6000. What do you get out of it?

    Put in a bluetooth card and connect to the internet (no, not WAP, the whole damn internet) through your cell phone. For as little as $20 a month (depending on your cell provider), a wired handheld Linux machine, that can be used in the most cramped and bumpy bus/train ride. Edi
  • Why is only about 70% of the lid used by the screen? It's such a huge waste, both top, and bottom. [left,right in landscape mode]. Especially since the most serious limiting factor with a PDA is screen space.
  • Is it only me, or do other people find it ironic that an $800+ portable computer is reviewed on BARGAINPDA?
  • Something they forgot to mention in the article was that the SL-C3000 doesn't include a Java runtime, either on the unit itself, or on the extras CD. I thought Java was supposed to be the big feature they were always going on about alongside Linux while marketing the earlier Zauri, and here they are removing it. WTF.
  • My only issue with my Zarus SL-5600 was that the sync software only interfaced with a windows box, which is a pretty hard to find piece of antiquated machinery. But add a wireless card, samba, perl and now I can use my disk as a coaster! Still haven't found a use for that cradle thingy.
  • While the Zaurus is indeed cool, and I haven't used one, from the article, my 1999 Toshiba Libretto seems to win in almost all categories.

    These were sold for awhile around that time frame, never well marketed; the price was good (around $1K, I think), and the size was amazing (VHS-cassette sized).

    800x480 display, 233mhz, 64M Ram, 4G hard drive, runs Win98, Win2000, Linux, two PCMCIA slots (so wifi, bluetooth, cd-rom, anything you want can be added), quite nice trackpoint style mouse next to the screen, sm

  • The only things wrong with iBook over this is the cool flip screen and the size.

    Although not as conveniently portable (yet) you can get an iMac Mini with a 12" lcd, key and mouse for about the same price.

    When the price comes down, maybe it will be worth while taking a serious look.


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