New PowerBook vs. iBook - The shootout

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by XIII, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. XIII macrumors 68040

    XIII

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2004
    Location:
    England
    #1
    Well, not quite a shootout, just a question from me about which to get. :) And a quick warning now that this is a comparitively LOOOONG post, but I would apprechiate it if you would read it, and give me your valuable opinion.

    I'm looking for my first mac still, saving slowly but surely, and I am a bit indescisive ;). I was thinking the 14" iBook (see sig :eek: ) but these new PowerBook upadtes have changed my perspective. I know have all the iBooks to consider, and 3 of the new PowerBooks. These are the specs of the iBooks and PowerBooks I am looking at:

    The 12" iBook is a BTO one, and its specs are as follows:

    • 256MB DDR266 SDRAM (built-in)
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive
    • Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Bluetooth Module
    • Keyboard & Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 12-inch TFT XGA display
    • 1.2GHz PowerPC G4
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

    The 14" Combo iBook is also a BTO one, and its specs are as follows:

    • 256MB DDR266 (256MB built-in)
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive
    • Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Bluetooth Module
    • Keyboard & Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 14-inch TFT XGA display
    • 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

    The 14" Super iBook is again, a BTO one, and its specs are as follows:

    • 256MB DDR266 (256MB built-in)
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive
    • SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Bluetooth Module
    • Keyboard & Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 14-inch TFT XGA display
    • 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

    The 12" Combo PowerBook is as follows, non BTO:

    • 512MB DDR333 (256MB built-in + 256MB SO-DIMM)
    • 60GB Ultra ATA drive @5400rpm
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    • 1.5GHz PowerPC G4
    • NVIDIA GeForce FX GO 5200 with 64MB DDR Video Memory
    • 12.1-inch TFT Display

    The 12" Super PowerBook, non BTO:

    • 512MB DDR333 (256MB built-in + 256MB SO-DIMM)
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 5400rpm
    • 8x SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    • 1.5GHz PowerPC G4
    • NVIDIA GeForce FX GO 5200 with 64MB DDR Video Memory
    • 12.1-inch TFT Display

    And, finally, the 15" Combo PowerBook, non BTO:

    • 1.5GHz PowerPC G4 w/ 64MB VRAM
    • 512MB DDR333 SDRAM - 1 SO-DIMM
    • 80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 5400 rpm
    • Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • AirPort Extreme Card
    • Backlit Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700
    • 15.2-inch TFT Display

    With this mac, I will be: Wireless internet surfing, Email, iTunes, GarageBand with my electric guitar, Word Processing, iPhoto, Photoshop (not THAT intensive, I would guess), iMovie family movie editing, and I WILL be running multiple apps at a time, although I guess this is more of a RAM thing than anything else. With RAM, note that I do intend to add more after purchase. Also, this list of things could grow, as I get into more and more things, and more seriously, and I want this to LAST. This is why the PB 15"'s "FutureProof" if you like, set of ports looks good. I will be hoping to buy any of these setups in late March/early April, while I am on holiday in the US, and obviously, the cheaper the better, although I guess if I end up feeling the 15" PB is best for me, I just spend all my money. :rolleyes:

    The pluses I can immeadiatly see on ALL the PowerBooks are better design (IMHO), new trackpad, faster hard drives, safe dropping hard drives thing, core image compatible video card (Tiger, anyone? :)).

    Then, the advantages of particularly the 15" PB, backlit keyboard (handy and cool), FireWire 800, Gigabit ethernet (this is what I'm talking about with the "future proof" ports), better screen res.

    I just want to know what I should get! If you got this far, please lave your opinions. : :D

    Thanks all!

    -Jack
     
  2. LeeTom macrumors 68000

    LeeTom

    Joined:
    May 31, 2004
    #2
    A couple things that people often overlook about the Powerbook compared to the iBook: A better quality display and keyboard. Even at the same resolution, the 12" Powerbook has a much higher quality display than the 12" iBook, and the keyboard is really nice to type on.
    I say Powerbook all the way.

    Lee Tom
     
  3. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

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    Location:
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    #3
    That is misleading information the 12" display on the iBook and PowerBook is the SAME display.

    You statement holds water for the 15 and 17" displays when compared to the 14". :)

    It is not wise of Apple to place a shifty 12" in the iBook and a higher costing display in the PowerBook it would cost too much to carry and buy 2 types.

    The keyboard depends on users experience(s). :)
     
  4. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

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    #4
    Since the PowerBooks have been recently updated and if you have the funds I would buy either the 15 or 17" models.

    I bought a 12" iBook instead of a PowerBook was because I needed my notebook to be rugged, good WiFi signal reception, low cost (due to if I happen to loose it) and what I use it for. And at that time the PowerBooks were looking old.

    Plus the PowerBook update also has seen price drops which is always good. I am not too concerned with Tiger as my iBook may or may not take FULL advantage of ALL its features that said when Tiger is released I will still recoup the cost of my iBook and buy something that will SUPPORT Tiger with all its Jazzy features. So this was a WIN/WIN solution for me. I would not think of trading my iBook now for a PowerBook as Tiger is not released so no point.

    It all depends on your needs, for me the iBook made sense at the time of purchase and I do not find these updated PowerBooks anything to go crazy over so its up to you. If I didn't buy an iBook and the PowerBooks were updated a few months earlier I would have bought the 17" model. :)
     
  5. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

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    Oct 19, 2004
    #5
    I have no direct experience looking at the two screens (current iBooks and rev C/D PBs) side-by-side, but some users on these boards claim to see a difference, possibly because of the better video card, in some instances. I don't know about this.

    I can say that for me, there's no comparison on the keyboards, and that the current PB ones are the best I have ever used, laptop or desktop, but yes, that is a personal taste thing.

    The 15" PB is clearly the best computer in this bunch, on paper. The top two reasons I would see not to get it are either a desire for more extreme portability (12" PB being the smallest and lightest Mac laptop) or to save some money (the iBooks can be good deals). It's your needs, and your wallet.
     
  6. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #6
    sorry, double post by mistake ... a little too click-happy on the Bluetake this afternoon ... ironically this piece of garbage gets me to 100! sorry

    well, since it's here anyway, I'll use this post to once again say that despite what is written above, I've always been unclear on what people mean when they say the iBooks are more rugged. No computer likes to be dropped, kicked, or otherwise mistreated, whether encased in plastic or metal. But, now with the new HD technology in the PBs there finally might be some real difference after all. Or is it scratches you're concerned about? iBooks get those too, and furthermore sometimes a scratch is better than a break. Scratches are, in any case, cosmetic and easily avoidable, but have little to do with "ruggedness."

    To clarify, I'm not denying that they are somehow more rugged, I just don't see how. Maybe I'm missing something.
     
  7. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
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    #7
    It could well be the reasoning of the different video card as the iBook line carries the ATI brand cards and the PowerBook 12" model carries the nVidia brand card.

    Odd things is the ATI cards are better for mobile no wonder Apple uses them on the top end of the PowerBook line, the nVidia seems out of place, could just be a reason to differenciate the 12" iBook and 12" PowerBook line. :p <-- though one has to ask why is the ATI card used on the TOP END is it is worse than the nVidia. :: questions, questions :: ;) :)

    I have no issues with either the iBook or PowerBook keyboards. :)
     
  8. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

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    #8
    100 posts this way huh, ROTF ;) :p

    I remember someone who said that when you pry open an iBook that its not so rugged as a PowerBook. All I have to say is this you can pry open anything and meddle with the internals and nothing will be rugged. Seemed like a disillusioned individual. :rolleyes:

    PowerBook Al is metal and is prone to heat, scratches, dents, etc you name it.

    iBook is make out of plastic and takes the shock better than a PowerBook, heck even Apple's site claims it so. ;) :)

    The casing for the PowerBook is far thinner than the iBook thus the ruggedness factor. :)
     
  9. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #9
    ok, but what does that mean? If I drop an iBook on its corner from 5 feet in the air it will somehow come out of it better than a PB? How exactly? Impossible for us to answer.

    "prone to scratches" applies to both lines, and again, is cosmetic. No laptop that is taken care of and kept in a skin while traveling will get many scratches anyway.

    Apple's "bulletproof" iBook marketing lingo notwithstanding, neither laptop would survive a bullet very well, I'm guessing ... or would anyone here like to test?

    HOW exactly does the ruggedness manifest itself? Once again, I do allow that some ruggedness differences may exist, but stating that one computer is plastic and the other is metal doesn't shed much light on the subject. Someone could make a very rugged metal laptop and a totaly non-rugged plastic one (and in fact many companies take the latter course). I don't think the materials alone determine ruggedness.
     
  10. TheSith macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    #10
    To me, you seem like you're ready to go on the 15.

    I'd say... stick with your instinct.

    I've heard many a time that the 14" iBook's fairly low resolution is "blurred/fuzzy" and just doesn't cut it. I agree, even though I do not own one. The 15" Powerbook however looks just plain lovely. All the things about it are.

    Maybe I wasn't used to iBooks but each time I've gone into the Mac store, I've noticed the lower quality of the keyboard and the unit itself. It is good for people who are rugged, I suppose.. but..

    Plus the powerbook has a better video card (which I would recommend updating since it is the only thing not 'updatable' later on), better keyboard, very nice screen, bigger hard drive, faster processor speed, must I go on?

    I'm sure you'll be happy with anything you choose but if you choose the 15, I'd presume you'd be even happier. The 12 is too small, and the 17 is too large (IMO). The 15 is just.. well, purrr-fect!
     
  11. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #11
    Well here's my sample pool:

    1GHz 12" iBook
    1.2Ghz 12" iBook
    1.2GHz 14" iBook
    1GHz 12" Powerbook
    1.5 GHz 15" Powerbook

    The best display, by far, is the 15" Powerbook. The 12" Powerbook was good, but not substantially better than the iBooks. I've read that the 12" LCDs are all the same, which I wouldn't dispute -- but the 15" LCD blows away the iBooks, hands down.

    The 14" was just fuzzy to me. It gave me a headache after using it for a while.
     
  12. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    somewhere between here and there.
    #12
    I am not sure if I can explain this in a few lines however one has to understand material density and flexibility along with air pocket(s) between and in-between material(s). the internal and external pressure(s) on a given material and substance.

    Think of it as bone. All you have to know is that that only thing that makes the PB strong is the metal skeletal frame inside that sheets of Al are wrapped/placed on the top. If you were to drop an Al PB from 5 feet on its edge it would give the internals a violent jolt that is why the new PB have Sudden Motion for the HDD, to reduce the risk of data loss.

    The iBooks with its plastic shell would absorb most of that shock unlike the Al which would absorb far less.

    I hope that explains it. I tried. :)

    P.S. The bullet proofing depends on the distance, velocity, angle of the bullet head, etc... in order for any material to be proofed. Some ball head bullets might only scratch the surface of the iBook, however some sharp point heads would do more damage. :)
     
  13. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

    Joined:
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    Location:
    somewhere between here and there.
    #13
    The 14" screen is good for people who have vision problems, some people get headaches with sharp screens or small ones. So I don't bash any notebook screen other than the original iBook screens resolution that was way to low. :)
     
  14. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #14
    And the iBook wouldn't get a violent jolt after being dropped from 5 feet? um ..... or this jolt would somehow be perceivably less violent?

    What little I know about plastic and aluminum-- which I admit is next to nothing-- comes from mountain biking, where carbon fiber does indeed dampen small vibrations if properly constructed, and aluminum has a reputation for being rigid and harsh-feeling. But we're talking about laptop cases here, and they're just not meant to take the same kind of abuse.

    So two different laptops have a similar internal frame design, and one becomes rugged because it uses a thin plastic shell instead of a thin metal shell? Not convincing to this layman.

    Even if the drop example is true, it's still not a good idea to drop laptops, and I doubt the iBook would do perceivably better. A busted laptop is a busted laptop. If you have any actual test results to show otherwise, fine, but usually those who mention the "rugged" thing don't provide anything more than scattered anecdotes and complaints about scratches. To your credit, you've already moved beyond that.

    My larger point is this: I suspect it is misleading to tell potential Apple laptop consumers that the iBooks are somehow more rugged without being clear as to what that means. And I haven't seen anything that shows me how, in practice, such ruggedness could be meaningful to the user.

    I guess we need to get on out there and start droppin' some laptops! um... you first
     
  15. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

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    #15
    I hope you are referring to a CLOSED laptop and not an OPEN one, and OPEN one dropped might only damage the LCD screen.

    If you want true stories of an iBook surviving near doom, I know there are some thread here in relation to it.

    And the plastic shell ABSORBS more shock than Al, not all metals are equal or plastics for that matter, so do not get it confused that this is a METAL versus Plastic debate. ;) :)

    I never said there will not be ANY shock to an iBooks internals, I DID say that the shock would be minimal when compared to a PowerBook Al shell. :)
     
  16. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #16
    Sorry, don't buy it. How would you define "minimal" anyway? Would the user care that their laptop was broken and couldn't be used ... but was broken a bit less than it might have been?

    I am not disagreeing with your general point, or your knowledge of materials-- I am unable to do so, or to even tell if you actually know what you're talking about-- I am simply saying that in the current context it is impossible for us to prove (or even just show with any specificity) exactly what this "ruggedness" would actually mean to the user. I suspect it is meaningless in the context of fragile computers, and marketing-driven-- but I am fully ready to be proven wrong.
     
  17. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a

    jackieonasses

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    #17
    ** this is written poorly, I am too sick to change it - sorry for the trouble**


    Not to jump in on this debate, but my girlfriend has an ibook, and i have a Powerbook. Hers is MUCH more "rugged" and what i mean by rugged is, YOu can toss that one around alot easier. Now, what i mean by "toss" is not abuse, but something i would *not* do with the delicate AL powerbook. HOnestly, i am scared every-time i set it in my lap that my belt will scratch it. (already got a little one) The white on the iBook is easily buffed out with some products out there, and since it is ABS- It bends. Honestly, if you played with both of them enough, (you should be able to recognize it at first glance) you will see the difference.


    kyle
     
  18. mcgarry macrumors 6502a

    mcgarry

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    #18
    So you're saying that because you think it is fragile you treat it so? You don't say why you wouldn't toss your PB other than because you think you shouldn't. I don't question your decision-- it's probably a wise one-- but it still just doesn't explain much. I have only played with the newer iBooks, though my brother's G3 iBook has plenty of scratches on it. The bottom is a scratch field, I don't know what he was doing with it. But seriously, what is it with the scratches, people? They have nothing to do with what I would call ruggedness, but whatever. My (admittedly only) 4-month old PB has no scratches, and I mean none. It travels in a Tucano second skin, is that so crazy? I do not, however, therefore leap to the conclusion that all iBooks are scratch-prone and all PowerBooks are scratch-resistant (depsite that the Apple website says the latter), but rather that any laptop properly cared for is not going to get scratched much.
     
  19. XIII thread starter macrumors 68040

    XIII

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    England
    #19
    Haha, man this thread has gone overboard. :p

    The PowerBook if I want a screen that won't gove me haedaches, and the iBook if I'm gonna be dropping it on its corners, and be shot at. ;)

    But really, you guys think that i should just get the best I can get, and that I really will notice the difference between the iBook and PowerBook? I would like a larger display, and I know the 14" has no more pixels than the 12", but if I were going iB, then I would think I would get a 14" iBook. So, do you think the new 15" PB is worth the extra over the 14" iB combo?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks

    -Jack.
     
  20. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    Huntsville, AL
    #20
    Again, FWIW:

    I dropped my 12" Powerbook, which fell four feet and landed square on its corner. All it did was press in the corner of the case and buckle two small places in the bottom shell. All of the hardware survived, passed all the hardware tests, and functioned perfectly.

    I've heard similar stories, as well as one lady baking her Powerbook in the oven and one guy running over his with a Toyota SUV. They all survived.

    A friend of mine dropped his iBook similar to the situation where I dropped my Powerbook, but his outcome was a bit different -- the plastic on the corner shattered.

    That's not to say that the PB is stronger than the iB -- just that your mileage may vary. The real idea is to keep stuff like laptops as far away from the edge of your desk as possible. :)
     
  21. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #21
    The 14" iBook is heavier than the 15" Powerbook, if that means anything to you. :)

    As I said earlier, though -- the Powerbook beats any iBook I've seen in display quality, hands-down. The new Powerbooks also feature the scrolling touchpad, Bluetooth 2.0, and, as before, a PC-Card slot. It also has a better GPU, higher RAM capacity, and a larger HDD.

    If you can afford the 15" PB, I say go for it. If you're contemplating the 14" iBook, I'd actually opt for either the 12" iBook or the 12" Powerbook -- esp since the 14" LCD gives me headaches.

    I owned a 12" Powerbook for a while and sold it because I was frustrated with the limitations of the smaller screen. Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and Final Cut Express all had problems fitting gracefully onto the 12" screen. None of them have any problems whatsoever with the 15".

    /me throws $0.02 on the table and sits back.
     
  22. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

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    Sydney, Australia
    #22
    To add to the list of PowerBook survival stories: two of my friends purchased 17" PowerBooks at same time. Funnily enough, within the first month of owning their new PowerBooks they had both dropped them. One friend placed his PowerBook in a laptop bag and then went to sling it across his shoulder. Unfortunately the shoulder strap was not properly secured and slipped out of the loop attaching it to the bag. The PowerBook tumbled out of the bag from approximately midriff level onto a short loop office-type carpet floor. The rear-right hand corner near the DVI port was dented. With a little exertion my friend was able to bend the aluminium mostly back into the correct form. The DVI port and the rest of the PowerBook survived perfectly.

    The second friend accidently swept his 17" PowerBook off a desk and onto a hard linoleum floor. Again, the corner upon which the PowerBook landed absorbed most the impact energy and was slightly deformed (this time the front-left corner). He was a little luckier than my other friend, and was able to bend the case back into shape so you actually couldn't tell there had been an impact at all. Again, there was no internal damage to the PowerBook, and both machines continue to function perfectly to this day.

    In my own experience, my 12" PowerBook looks as pristine as the day I bought it, excluding the little things like the fine dust which finds its way onto all laptop screens (time for a clean maybe). I have my 12" PowerBook in an STM neoprene sleeve which sits in an STM laptop backpack. It gets used (literally) on a lab bench in a molecular biology lab throughout the day, and gets moved back and forth between a cabinet for safe keeping. It gets pulled out and used at home too. I treat it with care, but I don't go overboard. I have owned this particular PowerBook since early May 2004, and like I said earlier, it has no signs of cosmetic damage yet.

    If you're careless with your notebook, it's going to get damaged. But with a little common sense and sensible care, there's no reason an aluminium PowerBook with a busy working life can't stay looking good. I think some of the PowerBook 'fragility' issues tend to get overstated sometimes.
     
  23. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    Bergen, Norway
    #23
    Well I dropped my iBook from a table (ok, it wasn't from 5 feet, more like 3 feet) and it didn't affect it at all (as far as I can tell). Wouldn't have done that with a PowerBook...

    Edit: The iBook was open and landed on the top left corner, where the screen is connected (did that make any sense?), onto a wood panel floor.

    The casing has gotten some scratches on it because I for a year just tossed it into my (large) backpack most of the time, but since it's in the white plastic it's very hard to see. And plastic doesn't dent the way the metal in the PowerBooks tend to...

    So for "ruggedness" and a machine you don't have to worry (too much) about go for the iBook, if you, on the other hand, want more power and features take the more tender and <subjective>better looking</subjective> PowerBook...

    For portability, go for the 12" iB/PB, for more workspace go for the 15" PB (I don't see the point in the 14" iBook, apart from the Superdrive). A good solution may be a 12" PB (or iB with the screen spanning hack), for portability, combined with a 17"-23" LCD at your desk...
     
  24. kirk26 macrumors 6502a

    kirk26

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    #24

    The display 12" on the PowerBook way crisper and brighter than the iBook.
     
  25. lasuther macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 13, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    #25
    Ok, here is my take on your situtation.

    12” iBook – it’s cheap and very good. If you can’t afford more, get this one.
    14” iBook – it’s bigger, heavier, and more expensive than the 12”. I still trying to figure out why this is in production.
    14” Super iBook – it’s bigger, heavier, and slower than a PowerBook. No idea why they make this one either.
    12” PowerBook – it’s a really expensive, slightly upgraded iBook.
    12” PowerBook w/ Super Drive – this is a nice model and you might need the Super Drive.
    15” PowerBook – This is a great computer for the price.

    If you are considering PowerBooks, there is no real reason to look at iBooks. Especially with GarageBand, Photoshop, and iMove programs you will work on. I think you can narrow it down to 12” PowerBook with Super Drive and 15” PowerBook. Then your decision is simply do you need a Super Drive? If you can live with out it, get the 15”. Also, if you can wait for Tiger, do it.

    lasuther
     

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