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Laptop buying guide: All you need to know about laptops

There is a laptop out there for everyone, whether they prefer Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS; whether they need a large screen for the whole family or just want something small and portable. If you’re in the market for buying a new laptop, it’s vital that you keep in mind that there are other factors at play than screen size and processing speed. In this article, there is a complete laptop buying guide and all you need to know about laptops.

There are a lot of factors to think about when deciding which model is best for your needs and budget, and that’s where we come in. In this article, we will talk about everything about laptops and we will also guide you on how to buy a laptop that is suitable for your requirements. You are completely knowledgeable about the laptop buying guide after reading this.

We will also provide a laptop buying guide for some of the most popular laptops on the market and discuss some of the most important considerations when shopping for a laptop computer.

What are the Different types of Laptops?

There are many kinds of laptops.

Most of the time, the terms laptop and notebook are used to mean the same thing. But you can divide these into smaller groups, and they don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.

For example, an ultraportable can also be a convertible (2-in-1) that works as both a laptop and a tablet. Also, if you add a keyboard, many devices that are made to be tablets can also be used as laptops. Some, like some of the Surface models from Microsoft, are made for this purpose. Here is a complete laptop-buying guide. 

  • Notebook (aka laptop)
  • Ultraportable 
  • Ultrabook
  • Chromebook
  • Macbook
  • Convertible (2 in 1)
  • Tablet as a laptop
  • Netbook 

1. Notebook (aka laptop)

Notebook (aka laptop)

This is the general term for a laptop computer that is both easy to carry and useful.

These can be very different in size and specs, like how fast the processor is, how much space it has, how much memory (RAM) it has, and how big the screen is.

They range in price from cheap budget models to high-end models that are good for work and games.

2. Ultraportable 

Ultraportable 

Laptops that are thin, light, and optimized for mobility are frequently referred to as ultraportable (also sometimes called a sub-notebook).

In order to keep the device’s profile at an absolute minimum, several functions, such as more numerous or larger connection ports, have had to be sacrificed. The lightest of the bunch weighs only a kilogram.

3. Ultrabook

Ultrabook

Intel, a manufacturer of computer chips, developed the word “ultrabook” to describe a certain kind of extremely lightweight notebook (hence Ultrabook). There are a number of requirements for Ultrabooks, including dimensions, weight, battery life, and processor (including built-in security features).

Among its strong characteristics are excellent security and anti-theft protection built in at the hardware level.

Though the first MacBook Air served as a model for subsequent Ultrabooks, it does not qualify as an Ultrabook itself.

4. Chromebook

Chromebook

ChromeOS, which is based on Linux, is the operating system that Chromebooks use. These are optimized for use with web-based software and data stored on the Cloud rather than on the device itself, and hence typically include limited storage space. The Chrome Web Store is where you’ll find all the necessary app downloads. Newer Chromebooks support Android app compatibility.

Since there are so many affordable variants of Chromebooks and since their streamlined configuration makes centralized administration and security easier, they are gaining popularity in various educational institutions and even corporate groups.

5. Macbook

Macbook

Apple makes two types of laptop computers: the ultra-thin 13-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch MacBook Pro. The macOS operating system is used by all of them.

The latest versions of the MacBook no longer use Intel’s platform. Instead, they use Apple’s own chipsets, which are called “Apple Silicon” and have been replacing Intel chipsets in Apple computers bit by bit. These include the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M2 chipsets, which put everything on a single chip (called a SOC, or system on a chip). This gives Apple full control over how well hardware and software work together, which has led to big improvements in speed and battery life.

6. Convertible (2 in 1)

Convertible (2 in 1)

These blend the functionality of a tablet with that of a laptop. You may also hear them referred to as 2-in-1 laptops or hybrids.

They can easily transition between the standard keyboard mode and the touchscreen tablet mode, and they can transform in a variety of ways, including detaching, sliding, twisting, and folding back on themselves. The majority of models now make use of the fold-back mechanism, but some still feature displays that can be detached.

7. Tablet as a laptop

Tablet as a laptop

Some tablets, like convertible laptops, can serve as laptops with the addition of a keyboard cover. Particularly noticeable in this regard are Windows-based tablets that benefit greatly from having a keyboard, such as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro series and smaller Surface Go. Unlike 2-in-1s, however, they don’t require you to sacrifice portability for versatility when in tablet form.

While tablets like the iPad and iPad Pro may act as laptops thanks to their available keyboard docks, they run Apple’s iPad, which isn’t optimized for use with touch-screen interfaces, so you’ll get the most out of them by installing programs designed for laptops. Samsung also offers a variety of tablets that, when coupled with an external keyboard, may function as laptops running either Windows or Android. 

8. Netbook 

 Netbook 

The term “netbook” was coined to describe a specific category of inexpensive laptop computers that were optimized for use with the internet (hence the name “netbook”). For a while, these little laptops were quite popular due to their low price, but the trade-off was their slowness and the various ways in which the cost-cutting showed, especially in their low RAM, CPU speed, and storage. The Intel Atom, a low-performance processor, was employed. Tablets, Ultrabooks, and ultraportables, especially Chromebooks, are now available and make excellent stand-ins. More information about the laptop buying guide. In this, you’ve learned everything you need to know about buying a laptop. 

Range of Laptops: Laptop buying guide

Entry-level

If you only need a laptop for minor tasks and minimal use, you can obtain “cheap” models for $500.

Budget notebooks can manage email, word processing, and Internet research.

They can perform most multimedia tasks for casual users and younger pupils (such as standard-definition video streaming).

You should look for a laptop that is tiny, light, and portable if you plan on carrying it around frequently. Consider an ultraportable computer (including Ultrabooks).

Mid-range

Mid-range laptops are designed for everyday users such as families, students, and professionals, and are capable of running the vast majority of software and games. However, they may experience some hiccups when tasked with high-end tasks such as intensive video editing or games that demand exceptionally fast graphics processing.

High-end

A powerful (ideally latest-generation) processor and lots of RAM will offer you the processing power of a desktop computer while allowing you to take your work on the go with reasonable ease (at least 16GB). Some high-end versions are “gaming laptops,” distinguished by their exceptionally potent graphics capabilities (provided by specialized graphics cards) and lightning-fast high-resolution displays.

Extreme computing operations, such as video and audio editing, programming, 3D rendering, and high-end games, are best suited to high-end laptops, which are aimed at serious computer enthusiasts and professionals. 

In this, you know everything there is to know about a complete laptop buying guide.

Choose an operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, or Chrome OS.

Opinions on OSes are often divisive. If you ask a group of computer experts whether you should buy a computer running Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s macOS, Linux, Google’s Android, or Google’s Chrome OS, you’ll spark an argument that will go on for hours with no clear winner (though everyone will insist they’re correct the whole time).

There are advantages and disadvantages to every system, but you need to pick one since it will dictate the rest of your options, including the software you install and, possibly, the hardware you buy. This is undeniably true for Apple goods and, more specifically, Chrome OS.

While macOS (previously OS X) is exclusive to Apple’s computers and iPadOS is iPad-only, both are compatible with Apple’s other operating systems, including iOS (iPhones), tvOS (Apple TV), and watchOS (Apple Watch) (Apple Watch).

Chrome OS is intended to be used on Chrome OS laptops, small PC desktops, and PC sticks, all of which have a lightweight configuration and are intended to be online for the vast majority of the time.

Windows Home is Microsoft’s consumer edition, Windows Pro is for power users, and Windows in S mode is for ultraportable computers that compete with Chromebooks in terms of weight and battery life.

Now more than ever, Windows and Chrome OS can communicate with Android, though not quite as well as in Apple’s closed-off hardware-software environment.

Android is expanding beyond its mobile phone origins to become an independent operating system for tablets, particularly those made by Samsung and Lenovo.

Windows 

The most popular operating system for software is Windows, and most applications are designed for it. Windows 11, scheduled for release in October 2021 and rolling out to PCs around the world through 2022, will come preinstalled on all new Windows computers beginning in October 2022. Both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 have been developed with compatibility for a broad variety of devices in mind, including tablets, and both feature native support for touchscreen navigation. Despite being compatible with Windows 10, many older machines cannot run Windows 11 due to its stringent hardware requirements. But Microsoft promises Windows 10 support until at least 2025.

Microsoft has included native support for Linux (more on that below) and Android apps in Windows 11.

macOS

macOS was developed to be used exclusively on Apple hardware, including the iPhone, iPad, and the latest Macs powered by Apple Silicon. This close integration provides a number of benefits, including a more streamlined user experience and a more uniform interface across all of these devices.

The majority of Windows software now has a macOS counterpart, and many Mac apps are backward-compatible with Windows software via file-format sharing.

Boot Camp is a feature of macOS that allows Windows to be installed on Intel-based Macs. This means that Windows can be run directly on Mac’s hardware, without the need for any kind of software emulation, allowing for maximum efficiency.

Using virtualization software like Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMware’s Fusion, or Oracle’s Virtual Box, users of Intel-based Macs can also run Windows OS and applications. These tools can also be used to install Linux and other operating systems. To run Windows 10 or Windows 11 on an M1-series Mac, you’ll need the ARM version of Windows and the latest version of Parallels Desktop for Mac.

You will need to buy Windows independently whether you use Boot Camp or a virtualization tool.

Linux 

Linux is an open-source operating system that may be used as an alternative to Windows on a variety of computers; it is also distributed for free, as are the vast majority of Linux products. it comes in numerous flavors, but Mint and Ubuntu are two of the most widely used distributions.

While Linux is the preferred operating system for servers, mainframes, and supercomputers, it is only found on about 2% of desktop PCs and laptops.

Any respectable Windows PC supports the installation of Linux in a number of flavors, albeit only a fraction of PC makers and merchants actually offer this choice. It’s primarily a do-it-yourself project, but anyone with a basic understanding of the relevant technical details can pull it off.

Linux users can choose from a wide variety of free operating systems, or “distributions,” Mint and Ubuntu being two of the most well-known for their user-friendly interfaces. Additionally, some Linux distributions, such as Puppy Linux and Lubuntu, are particularly lightweight and helpful for running on older PCs. Some, like Tails, are built from the ground up with discretion in mind.

Windows now incorporate a genuine Linux kernel, as opposed to just a compatibility layer, dubbed Windows Subsystem for Linux, eliminating the need to install Linux on a separate drive or partition (WSL). That opens the door to using Linux distributions sold by Microsoft’s online store.

ChromeOS

Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and Chromebits are all devices that run Google’s Chrome OS (USB dongle PCs). Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system that is optimized for usage with cloud-based data storage, however, local storage can be made available for offline tasks as well. Recent models of Chromebooks can also run Android apps, offering an extra layer of versatility, although the fact that programs must be available from the Chrome Web Store is perhaps the biggest limitation.

Chrome OS gadgets are well-liked due to their low hardware overhead (CPU, etc.), extended battery life, and ease of use (no backup or malware issues). Your Chrome OS device will automatically sync with the cloud once you sign in with your Google account.

Some schools have adopted Chromebooks because of their low cost, widespread availability, and the convenience of centralized management and security features.

As an alternative to Windows laptops, which typically come with unnecessary add-ons and bundled software, Chrome OS laptops can perform the vast majority of tasks that users would need. If you want to learn more about the Chromebook, you can do so by visiting the Google website. Further Information on Laptop Buying Guide.

Things to look for in a laptop

CPU (central processing unit) 

CPU (central processing unit) 

Your computer’s processor is its central processing unit. Based on the number of cores, processing speed, and price range, you can estimate CPU power.

Most laptop computers today use low-power-consumption central processing units (CPUs) to extend the life of their batteries.

One must use caution when comparing the Intel family of processors with those of AMD, Intel’s primary competitor because the cited speeds aren’t precisely equivalent.

The same holds true for each manufacturer’s subfamilies; for instance, the performance of Intel’s Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 processors steadily increases even though their base frequency (in gigahertz) remains the same. The Ryzen line of processors from AMD is the same.

Even at the same chip frequency, newer generations of processors are typically faster than their predecessors. Because of this, a 2.4GHz 12th-generation CPU is more powerful and efficient than an equivalent 11th-generation or previous CPU.

 

RAM (random access memory)

RAM (random access memory)

When working on time-consuming projects like image processing, using many browser tabs at once, or running numerous applications at once, you’ll notice the effects of insufficient RAM.

Even the most basic Windows system should have at least 4GB of memory, while most general-purpose laptops should have 8GB or more, and high-end machines should have 16GB or more. Don’t skimp on memory (RAM) while making a purchase because you might not be able to add more RAM in the future.

The screen’s quality

However, larger (and especially higher resolution) screens are preferable for graphics, gaming, or viewing movies, while smaller screens mean smaller laptops that are generally lighter. Many budget laptops, despite their larger screens, feature only 1366 x 768 resolution screens. Before making a purchase, make sure you’re not losing money.

There is a trend toward including screens of at least full-HD (1080p, or 1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution in laptops aimed at the middle of the price spectrum, but high-end laptops also feature screens with higher resolution.

 

If you want to use your laptop to view movies and TV shows frequently, then you should get one with a big screen.

Storage

You should not skimp on the storage area. Make sure you have adequate space for all of your current programs and data, as well as the rapidly expanding collection of videos and music that most people now prefer to amass unless you want to make substantial use of Cloud-only storage. Additional information concerning the laptop buying guide.

“Selecting a laptop with enough RAM and SSD storage space to last you a long time is important because upgrading either feature after the fact can be difficult, if not impossible.”

SSD

Since the price of solid-state drives (SSD) has dropped, most laptops now use them instead of hard drives. Hard disc drives (HDDs) are still included in some laptops, typically at a lower price point.

However, a solid-state drive (SSD) is far quicker than a hard disc, and having one can significantly boost a laptop’s overall speed and hence extend its usable working life. Although 128GB is the minimum size of an SSD for a general-purpose laptop, most users would benefit from having 256GB or more. Also, see if the microSD card slot may be used to add up to 1TB of extra storage space for your laptop or tablet.

An external portable drive or high-capacity external hard drive can be plugged in for additional storage, as recommended by CHOICE. You may find 128GB and 256GB SSDs in many laptops,

especially ultraportable versions, however, these days we think 256GB is a better baseline.

Don’t skimp on RAM (memory) or storage capacity upfront because many laptops, especially compact and light ultraportables, may not allow you to change internal components later. If you want your laptop to last as long as possible, it’s a good idea to look for upgrade possibilities when placing your purchase and to invest a little additional money upfront in RAM. 

Cooling

Cooling

It’s not uncommon for computer parts to overheat, even in a small enclosure like a laptop.

If your laptop has been on for a while in the place where the term implies, you may notice hotspots. If you’re using your laptop on your lap, don’t block the bottom vents.

Graphics card

Graphics card

Many laptops have “on-board graphics” integrated into the motherboard rather than a discrete graphics card.

Some high-end devices may feature a graphics processing unit (GPU) with its own video memory.

Power supply

Power Supply

Known colloquially as “the brick,” this is the adapter you’ll need to connect your laptop to a regular power outlet. If your laptop’s battery won’t hold a charge long enough for you to leave the brick at home, you’ll have to bring it with you to recharge, which can add a significant amount of extra weight to your load.

Battery life

Battery life

With an ultraportable, having a lengthy battery life between charges is crucial. If you also need to bring the AC adapter and cord to charge it, then their portability takes a hit.

A laptop’s battery life depends on the number and type of external devices connected to its power source. For more information about the laptop buying guide, read above.

“Look for a laptop model with long battery life and a fast recharge time if you anticipate doing a lot of mobile work.”

 

Bringing the bulky AC adapter and cable along is something you’d rather not do. Our battery life tests simulate intensive use to give you a feel of the worst-case scenario, but regular use usually yields better results.

Lengthy battery life and fast recharge time are crucial if you want to be on the go for long periods of time. In addition, we keep track of how long it takes each laptop to charge to 80% and 100% capacity while it is on and plugged in. Noting that charging speeds typically decrease noticeably after 80% is helpful. It may take as long to reach 80% as it did to initially reach the additional 20%.

Sustainability

Numerous laptop manufacturers are exploring more sustainable production, distribution, and packaging practices, as is the case in many other industries. Laptops are not modular like desktop PCs, making RAM and storage upgrades and repairs difficult.

Some even make it impossible to upgrade the hardware by soldering components like RAM directly to the motherboard. These days, it’s rare to find a device whose battery or storage drive can be removed and replaced. However, this is important to watch for as it may extend the device’s useful life.

If not, you’ll need to invest in a laptop with enough memory and space. Keep in mind that a high-quality construction will endure longer and save you money than a low-cost one.

If possible, you should also see if the components are eco-friendly and created from reusable resources. I was wondering whether there was any kind of program in place to assist with swapping or recycling outdated models. In most cases, this data can be found on the official manufacturer’s website.

Check the company’s website for product longevity and environmental friendliness policies. Do they have a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) seal of approval, which verifies that they have a low environmental and social impact over the course of their product’s entire? For further information, please visit the Ethical Consumer website.

Wi-Fi

Fast Wi-Fi is becoming essential since fewer notebooks include ethernet jacks for hardwiring into your home network.

If so, look for a compatible USB to Ethernet-adapter from the same manufacturer or a third-party vendor.

Make sure your laptop supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6, the latest standard. (802.11ax). These work with older protocols while improving upon them in terms of safety and other aspects. Compared to Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 is quicker and can accommodate more devices. Although Wi-Fi 6E is an improvement over the previous standard, it is not yet extensively implemented in consumer electronics.

 

USB-C connectivity

USB-C connectivity

USB-C is the latest low-profile standard for connecting computers, and more and more models are starting to include it. Although a USB-C plug appears simple to use and compact, it actually supports many standards despite having the same design.

Due to a rebranding effort by the standards authority, USB 3.1 is now more commonly referred to as USB 3.2.

Most USB-C connectors support USB 3.2 Gen-1, which is 5Gbps like USB 3.0. USB 3.2 Gen-2 is the 10Gbps variant of this technology (formerly USB 3.1 Gen-2). USB 3.2 Gen-2×2 is also included (20Gbps). Additionally, there are the super-fast (40Gbps) Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB 4 options.

Some high-end laptops may include Thunderbolt 3 or 4, whereas most will simply have USB-C. A USB-C device can be connected to a Thunderbolt 3/4 connection, but the transfer rates will not improve. Having an external solid-state drive (SSD) that supports Thunderbolt and the proper cable, you will have the quickest connection possible. Additional information concerning the laptop buying guide.

“Don’t use cheap cables and chargers from third parties or you could damage your computer or worse.”

Even if you don’t have a Thunderbolt or USB 4 version of this connection, USB-C is still better than USB 3.0 because it’s becoming more common on computers and plug-in devices and is expected to soon become the main connection port, eventually replacing the familiar rectangular USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports.

One reason USB-C has become so popular so quickly is that it is so flexible. The same port can send both power and data at the same time, and a USB-C adapter can make it look like a variety of other ports, like USB 2.0/3.0, SD card, HDMI, ethernet, and more.

Stick with the manufacturer’s cables, though, and don’t buy cheap cables and chargers from other companies. If you do, you could damage your computer and accessories, or even worse. It is important to only use USB-C and Thunderbolt cables that have been approved. Further information about laptop buying guide.

Best Laptop brands:

Apple

Over the past year, Apple has been the most reliable laptop manufacturer. The technology behemoth topped the list because it consistently performed well in our tests and has a larger share of happy customers than Microsoft, ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, HP, and Dell combined.

Best Laptop brand rankings for 2022

  1. Apple – 84%
  2. Microsoft – 78%
  3. ASUS – 75%
  4. Acer – 75%
  5. Dell – 71%
  6. HP – 71%
  7. Lenovo – 69%

It’s important to remember that the performance of different product models can vary quite a bit. Don’t assume that one brand’s products are the best for all their features, functions, and prices.

Laptops vs desktop computers

The ability to take one’s computer anywhere is appealing, but what additional advantages does a laptop have?

Energy use

In comparison to desktop PCs, laptops often consume a lot less electricity. Their operating expenses are cheap on an annual basis.

Size

Compared to a desktop computer, a laptop requires far less desk or shelf space.

Range

Laptops can be generally grouped into a few unofficial categories to suit a range of needs, however, they often overlap. Ultraportables, all-purposes, multimedia powerhouses, student/budget laptops, and gaming laptops are some of the so-called categories.

Performance

Even in the ultraportable category, many laptops have the processing power of mid-range desktop PCs.

Several important performance factors should be considered:

There are several important performance factors that should be considered when buying a laptop. A complete laptop buying guide about performance factors is here below:

CPU (central processing unit) family and brand (e.g. Intel Core i9, or AMD Ryzen chipsets). Also, consider the generation of the processor family; often, newer generations are faster.

CPU frequency (known generally as speed, measured in gigahertz, e.g. 3.2GHz).

 

SSD (solid-state drive) is the quickest form of drive. In contrast to a hard disc drive (HDD), it has no moving parts. It is occasionally called Flash storage. Similar to hard discs, SSD capacities and speeds can vary substantially.

Memory – RAM, is the temporary storage space required by running applications. Laptops and desktops typically start with 4GB (gigabytes) of RAM, but 8GB or more is now standard. More memory may be advantageous for programs that can utilize bigger amounts of memory or for running more programs simultaneously. Tablets and other mobile devices may need less RAM if they run mobile operating systems like Android, iOS, or iPadOS.

GPU (graphics processing unit) – This reduces the burden on the primary CPU by handling the majority of the computational work involved in creating and showing images. Some larger laptops have standalone graphics processors, while others have integrated graphics chips on the motherboard with the CPU.

Display screen — Typically, midrange to high-end laptops will have a high-resolution screen with at least full-HD (1080p – 1920 x 1080 pixels) or higher resolution.

Peripherals

You can use a laptop as a desktop by plugging in extra devices.
Connecting a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to your laptop may make it easier to use.

Peripherals

Laptops have a built-in screen but You can use a laptop as a desktop by plugging in extra devices. Connecting a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to your laptop may make it easier to use as a desktop PC.

Software

Most laptops can run the full version of Microsoft’s Windows, and some may also be able to run Linux.

Apple laptops run macOS, which used to be called OS X. Intel-based models can also be set up to run Windows with the help of Apple’s boot camp utility. This means that every time you restart the computer, you can run either macOS or Windows.

Alternately, Intel-based Macs can use a virtualization program.  Like Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMware’s Fusion, or Oracle’s Virtual Box to run many Windows or Linux “virtual machines” alongside the native operating system. With the latest version of Parallels and an ARM version of Windows, M1-series Macs can do the same thing.

Microsoft laptops and tablets run Windows S mode, a secure and power-efficient version of Windows.

But it can only run programs that can be found on the online Microsoft Store. S mode can be upgraded to Windows Home for free or Windows Pro for a charge. This can only be done once. If you do it, you can’t take it back. Most tablets run on either iOS or Android, which might not have your favorite apps.

Upgrading

Laptops have one significant disadvantage. Most laptops’ slim designs make upgrading most components difficult or impossible for the typical user. In addition, many components are permanent and cannot be replaced.

Because the RAM is soldered to the motherboard of some ultra-slim versions, it is not possible to add RAM afterward. You may be able to update the storage, however, doing so may need a visit to the manufacturer’s service center.

Thus, when buying, buy as much RAM and storage as you can afford. Adding storage, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi adapter plug-ins is the easiest way to upgrade a laptop.

An adaptor or hub can connect many devices to a laptop with USB Type-C ports, including Thunderbolt. You are completely knowledgeable about the laptop buying guide after reading this. The whole laptop buying guide is covered in this.

Conclusion

When buying a laptop, always keep your requirements in mind. We will also provide a laptop buying guide for some of the most popular laptops on the market and discuss some of the most important considerations when shopping for a laptop computer.  As a student, you may find that you require a lightweight, easily transportable laptop with long battery life. The processor and graphics card on your computer must be very strong if you intend to play games. It’s possible that a professional would benefit from a laptop with a sizable display and enough memory. You may choose a laptop that suits your demands, regardless of what they may be. Do your homework before making any moves!

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