• Desktop or Laptop? What’s your choice?

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    When you get to that point in time when either your Apple or Windows computer needs to be upgraded, sometimes it’s better to start over and buy a new
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    Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2563766

      With my 5YO laptop on the table I had a drink of coffee. One large “atchoo” later, seven keys no longer responded as they should. Genuine parts no longer made, I tried finding a generic part but am unable to get a full keyboard assembly in my part of the world (why do manufacturers make it so difficult to replace such a vulnerable part!).

      I bought a dock and scrapped my Windows 7 tower.  In some ways, the laptop is performing better that the tower but I still need mobility so am looking for a new laptop. Intel EVO???

      Summing up, you can anchor a laptop to a desk but you can’t get convenient mobile computing with a desktop machine.

      Group A (but Telemetry disabled Tasks and Registry)
      1) Dell Inspiron with Win 11 64 Home permanently in dock due to "sorry spares no longer made".
      2) Dell Inspiron with Win 11 64 Home (substantial discount with Pro version available only at full price)

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    • #2563778

      My view is in line with Susan’s. Most of my work gets done on desktop systems, and any computer-related activity I do at home takes place on tower PCs. But on those occasions when I need to do some work outside the office, there’s no substitute for the laptop.

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    • #2563784

      I retired my Win7 Desktop, MacBook Air at El Capitan 10.11.6 OS, bought a MacMini M1. That’s it. I’m a writer, love photography, so the Mini will serve me well.

      MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, and SOS at times.

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    • #2563787

      Only laptop.
      My last desktop was running Windows 95.
      Laptop take less space than keyboard, display…

    • #2563790

      A laptop can become a desktop… plug in a keyboard, mouse, and external display, and it effectively is a desktop… that you can unplug and bring with you at a moment’s notice if the need should arise. While desktops are more upgradeable and expandable, I just don’t have any real interest in them anymore. My current desktop is a Sandy Bridge (second-gen) i5-2500k that I have overclocked to 4500 MHz (stock 3700 max turbo on one core, while now it does 4500 on all four at the same time).

      I bought that motherboard back when Ivy Bridge was current (third gen). For the next few generations, there was not much reason to upgrade… the performance gains of each generation were minimal, so my overclocked Sandy held its own against similar midrange systems at their factory clocks. Eventually, though, it was left behind, but I never upgraded it.

      I am a PC-first tech user who seldom uses a phone for anything other than an alarm clock, but that’s on the practical end. They are also an area of interest in a hobbyist sense, and in that way, I find laptops to be more interesting. I’ve seen people denounce laptops for being so limited in performance compared to desktops, especially in the gaming models, but to me that is part of what makes them interesting. A desktop that can remain cool under heavy loads is not remarkable, as they have plenty of room for cooling systems compared to any laptop. A laptop that packs a ton of performance into a small, portable package, and that does it without overheating or causing the lap or desk underneath it to roast, is fascinating.

      I have had desktop PCs, but other than one Compaq Portable Plus luggable that I bought used to run my BBS back in 1991, I have never bought one as a PC. My first desktop PC arrived in 1990, as a series of parts that I assembled.

      I am not sure how I would quantify the desktops I have had. If I continuously upgrade it so that most or all of its parts have changed several times, is it still the same PC or not? If I just change the motherboard and CPU, is it still the same PC? No idea… so I can just state definitively that I have had a bunch.


      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
      XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
      Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

    • #2563795

      A Dell XPS 17 9710 laptop is my new “desktop”, mainly for space-saving reasons in an apartment. I purposely chose the latest available processor, high end video card, and 64 gb of memory to avoid the potential for, and inconvenience of, upgrading the laptop.

      My laptop is supplemented with a Dell D3100 docking station, a keyboard (Logitech K120 – basic, but works great), and monitor (Asus VP28U 3840 x 2160). While the laptop does have a 2 tb SSD, two external 4 tb drives are also plugged in. These are easily upgradable as technology advances. In fact, I just replaced one older external 4 tb HDD with a Crucial 4 tb external SSD.

      I have another laptop that I use for travel. But actually my Dell XPS 9710 could be conveniently portable simply by having an extra power adapter.

      As it happens, the motherboard on my Dell XPS 17 9710 died a month after I got it (early 2022). The replacement was fully covered by my in-home service contract. I think the replacement was a lot easier with the laptop than it would have been if either the service technician or I would have had to crawl under my desk to get at a tower computer and its power supply.

      Before I retired, the organization I was working for had about 1,000 computer-using employees in our location. The vast majority of those 1,000 had a laptop, not a desktop. Three main reasons: First, much of our work was done out at client offices. Data security was critical. Our staff brought their computers with them. Second, laptops can more easily be locked in a secure cabinet. Third, many staff were out at client offices for weeks at a time. Some worked from home for extended periods. Most of those people did not have a permanent office or desk at HQ. Instead, they booked an office or desk when they needed to work at HQ (hoteling). Those reasons made a laptop a sensible choice.

    • #2563799

      Before I retired, my Dell Latitude E5420 went with me to work every day, and fulfilled those needs very well.  It’s now ten years old, still going strong, and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.  It doesn’t need to be replaced, and if I were still working, it would still be more than adequate.

      By far my favorite platform, however, is my DIY mid-tower (specs in the signature link).  The versatility for upgrading puts a laptop to shame.  Once one finds a case design that’s well-designed for air flow and cable management, there’s no need to upgrade the case.  The internal hardware can be changed completely, which I have done to good effect.

      I elected to build rather than buy a NAS, and used Windows 10 Pro (I had a spare license) as the OS.  Same general reasons, a case with good airflow and cable management, room for many drives, and the ability to completely upgrade the internals makes it a no-brainer for me.  YMMV.

      Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
      We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

    • #2563809

      Most PC time spent using a high-end Windows 10 Professional tower with dual monitors.

      While traveling a laptop.

      In addition, we frequently use a laptop to stream video to our TV.  By using a PC equipped with VPN we can watch content from around country and around the world that is not available from our local internet service provider.

    • #2563817

      Big tower PC with 27″ monitor, gets all the work done. The laptop goes on the road (tablets often substitute for the laptop).

    • #2563791

      Like Susan, I have both. In my case, the laptop’s primary function is as a backup for the desktop, secondary role is during travel. That setup has served me well since the Windows XP days; the current machines are running Windows 11. So far, so good. The only times that I’ve had to use the laptop in its backup role were most frequently caused by the MS OS breaking the desktop; third-party software accounted for the remainder. A consistent backup strategy has always taken care of those incidents. The hardware has never caused any problems.

    • #2563833

      I think everyone knows my answer – the owner of Onyx, Opal, Opti, and Outlier obviously owes obedience to on-desk options.

      If I were traveling to work, I’d need something small, light, and capable. But I must draw the line somewhere, so its name would not begin with “O.”

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    • #2563869

      I think it really has to be a Desktop 27-32′ Screen, really especially if your going to spend any serious amount of time in front of it. As for laptop well bigger the better but a limit of 15-16′ Screen is pushing the bounds of where you can cram it on to that Aircraft Seat back table without elbowing your poor neighbour mercilessly.

      Desktops are generally more upgradeable than Laptops, the latter requiring nerves of steel and a proficiency in Microsurgery as a prerequisite to separate plastic and “snap tabs” and a descending feeling of doom as to will it ever go back together again.

      It’s the flexibility of a laptop for working, playing and just watching TV in some far flung Hotel room or any where for that matter. That makes it score high for me, but alas for a good  8 hour session without that inevitable crick in the neck or continually rubbing your eyes sore from squinting at a pokey little screen wins it for the desktop, especially with a Large Retina display.

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    • #2563870

      I agree with Susan.  Desktop for ‘work’ plus a laptop for convenience.  For me it is less about the computer and more about the space (work surface, office chair, decent monitor, fullsize keyboard & mouse).  My laptop is on a stand at my recliner.  That works fine for typing this but it is a lousy place to try to be productive.  I may end up with a docked laptop at some point but not today.

    • #2563877

      Both, in their place. Laptops are good for commuting and travel whereas a tower is much better for price/performance and maintenance. So we usually end up with a few laptops around and more towers, which with occasional upgrades last much longer than the laptops.

    • #2563878

      As always YMMV!

      That said I think this comes down to more than desktop vs laptop but also Apple vs the rest. Personally, I like having as many options as possible, thus not a fan of Apple’s walled garden. Not trying to start a flame war here just expressing my preferences.

      FYI: I do own an iPad, given to me by our CCRC when I moved in. In fact I started this post with the iPad while watching the French Open. #1 reason I’m a DESKTOP person is being able to touch type. Even though I have a keyboard on the iPad I touched something I shouldn’t have with my fat fingers and it closed the Safari window I was typing in and I lost 3 paragraphs! I have yet to find a laptop, and I work on a lot of peoples laptops, that I can touch type on. With age and my fat fingers I even find it hard to touch type on my Logitech G710+ full size keyboard.

      Reason #2 again with the aging thing I need a screen I can read. Even 17″ laptops (hardly really portable) I have trouble even with my readers on. On my Desktop with dual 27″ monitors I can compute w/o my readers a definite advantage, especially when coding.

      Reason #3 I don’t have to worry about battery health, overheating, catching fire, or even exploding. In this age of glued in batteries you can’t easily service then by yourself. I have replaced the battery on my Dell Inspiron (2012 vintage) as it isn’t glued in. Yes, I do have a laptop but it was inherited from my wife when I upgraded her from a 13″ to 15″ one, yeah she’s aging also (just don’t tell her I said so)!
      I use this laptop as a third screen using a software KM (Synergy) and an external 23″ monitor. Great for showing askWoody questions while I’m testing and formulating answers on the desktop. It also gets used occasionally to do tech presentations in our CCRC’s theater for the residents.

      So I’m firmly in the desktop camp. However, since my main driver Dell XPS 8920 (vintage 2017) is a 7th gen CPU I’ve been eying an upgrade and giving serious consideration to a Beelink mini-pc. I installed one of these for one of our residents and that thing is a little beast. For less that $500 I got them the Beelink (SER5 AMD Mini PC, Ryzen 5 5500U (Up to 4.0 GHz) 6-Core Mini Desktop, Micro Computer, 16GB | 500GB, Supports 4K Triple Displays, WiFi 6+BT5.2, USB3.2 Gen 2) and a 27″ monitor and it’s speed as can be. I’ll probably get one with a faster processor but still I’ll be under $500 since I already have the monitors & keyboard. Since I don’t need mobility this seems a better choice to save space in our new cramped quarters. However, I can’t currently justify getting a new machine when my current one is really as fast as I need it to be.

      Current Setup:

      May the Forces of good computing be with you!


      PowerShell & VBA Rule!
      Computer Specs

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      • #2564102

        Reason #3 I don’t have to worry about battery health, overheating, catching fire, or even exploding. In this age of glued in batteries you can’t easily service then by yourself. I have replaced the battery on my Dell Inspiron (2012 vintage) as it isn’t glued in.

        Glued batteries are not something that’s widespread across the laptop landscape. It’s primarily an Apple “innovation,” though there may be some copycats (like the original Surface laptop that had a non-openable case. Even if that battery is not glued, you had to destroy the case to get it out).

        None of my laptops have had a glued-in battery, and I have had quite a few recent ones. My 2021 Dell XPS is already on its 4th battery, as the unit aggressively overcharges them, shortening their life spans.

        I posted about that issue not long ago on the hardware forum. It looks like a cynical move to make the XPS last longer on battery short term (like when reviewers get one and try it out) but that will wreck the battery within a few months, after the reviewers have sent them back. Since Dell does not cover battery capacity in their warranty, this strategy is win-win for them, if they don’t think that customers will realize they are being burned on purpose.

        Even if not for that, a battery is still a consumable item, and as such, a glued battery is one of those things that absolutely rule out a laptop for me (along with a nonremovable SSD). I’ve come to grudgingly accept soldered RAM, as on a laptop it makes sense to have low power RAM (LPDDR4x+), which has to be soldered to the board, but batteries and SSDs are a bridge too far.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

    • #2563881

      I prefer desktop as it’s a lot easier to customize everything for your exact computing needs/wants and to be the most productive and comfortable. This was particularly important when my work transitioned to full time work from home in 2020 as well as after changing to 50% work from home a year ago. That was when I set up a home office with two desktop computers each with two 27 inch monitors across two desks in order to duplicate my work desktop computer environment for when I remote in via Citrix. It’s like sitting in a cockpit surrounded by monitors where either desktop system can be used for work and the other is still available for anything personal.

      Otherwise I used to have a laptop but did not use it very much anymore. Instead found it much easier and convenient to use my Samsung Galaxy Note (currently S22 Ultra) with its large screen and S Pen when away from the desktop systems or from home. The laptop has since been retired due to age (initially purchased in 2010) but also because the CPU fan was beginning to fail.

      • #2564104

        That was when I set up a home office with two desktop computers each with two 27 inch monitors

        Many laptops can handle multiple external displays too, and they can all have external mouse and keyboard too.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

    • #2563899

      For much of my career I was involved with either call center management or operations. I loved playing with the tech, and even as a call center manager I did much of my own programming. I even had my own PBX at home (retired from my call center). But I never much worried about what computers I had at home.
      Nowadays, all that really matters is resolution. The more the merrier for working with my photography.
      I have a six year old Lenovo laptop with an UHD 15 inch screen I used at home until I retired a couple of years ago. This worked great for my photography and any basic games I played. I also bought a small inexpensive laptop for travel. Both of these have touch screens. (And I just realized my son is still using my old 10 year touchscreen Ultrabook.)
      Go ahead and laugh, but when I retired I bought a high end HP Envy all in one with a 32 inch UHD screen. It does everything I need and then some. It serves as a workhorse and repository for all my photography.
      The 15 inch laptop is now retired to being my travel machine, and mirrors the set up on my desktop. I spin data (including photos) off to a NAS and mirror that to a couple of external drives. When I travel I grab a drive for all my music & photo files (about 2TB). Everything else is on OneDrive.
      The small Lenovo laptop languishes in a drawer as a emergency PC.
      And arrgh. I finally got my spouse to give up her eight year old Dell Inspiron for a renewed Optiplex.
      The tech I am into are my cameras (Nikon D850, D750) and my music systems… upstairs Bose, downstairs Bluesound Pulse 2i’s and NAD DAC systems. All hardwired. And for emergencies, a smaller battery powered bluetooth speaker for my phone.

    • #2563900

      I only use laptops now. My last PC was a self build from around 2012. I’ve been using laptops exclusively since 2016, firstly because I had to move to a smaller space. From then on it was just more convenient to use a laptop.

    • #2563910

      Choice of computers really depends on individual needs and preferences. When I worked full time, my at-work “computer” was a terminal attached to our corporate Unix minicomputer. For you younger folks: no, not the modern mini computers… See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minicomputer. I had an IBM PC at home – mostly for fun, word processing, programming in dBase4 and spreadsheet work with Lotus 123, etc.

      By the time I retired, we had replaced all the terminals at work with PCs running Windows acting as smart terminals while directly interfaced with the minicomputer. After retiring, my wife and I moved aboard our sailboat, so out went the desktop and we bought laptops, replacing them as needed over the years until we became landlubbers again.

      I still have some laptops for occasional use but have moved to an overclocked ATX tower with a 32″ monitor. I prefer the expandability, upgradability and repairability it offers. A large screen works best for spreadsheet work (investments, budgets, etc) and word processing while having my browser or other documents open on a second monitor. Streaming content is more pleasant than on a laptop. Most desktop software is easier to work with on a larger screen, too. It’s sound system is better for listening to my music collection. I also use my setup as a flight simulator and racing sim as well as other gaming. The exandability allows me to have all my simulator peripherals connected. I could probably do all this by using a powerful laptop with a dock that has high connectivity options but….

      In general, I no longer need portability. A desktop offers the productivity-friendly, vision-friendly and game-friendly features I want. The times I travel when I might need a laptop, I’ll take one with me.

      Win10 Pro x64 22H2, Win10 Home 22H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

    • #2563923

      My choices:
      Daily driver: 15″ ThinkPad P-series with appropriate dock, 27″ 2k monitor, and mouse. Unplug the two dock cables and off you go!

      Think Station Tower with dual 24″ monitor, keyboard and mouse for the virtual servers and occasional gaming. Plenty of storage, memory and CPU power for the VMs and a chonky GPU for CAD and gaming, both occasional.

      Each purchased with a purpose in mind: Portable-ish laptop for on-the-go power computing, and a tower for fixed raw power. The Thunderbolt 3 dock makes the line blurry!

      • This reply was modified 3 months, 4 weeks ago by ve2mrx. Reason: Clarified the meaning of a sentence
    • #2563933

      I had desktops when I was working.

      But as a retiree I find that desktops are much like swimming pools and yachts – things you throw money at. There are so many ways I can improve a desktop (I build my own boxes). But lately (5-10 years) I have found that downsizing works for me and I have also found that carefully buying used on ebay has really helped. My latest, a 2yr old i7 for $400, flies. built in Nvidia works a charm in win10 or Linux. I do stick to Lenovo Thinkpads as they have performed for me and are easy to get in to – you always have to check/redo the CPU’s thermal paste and remove dust from the fan blades, though on this last one it almost looked like it had been rarely used – some company dumping its stuff to upgrade. A pittance for a $2000 laptop. But, yes, I can’t put the latest video card into it… Thank heavens!

      Plus it’s easy to grab and go.

      YMMV as always!!!

      - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2.
      - Win 11 22H2(current, 1 mo behind)(WuMgr). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell s3221QS for old games.

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    • #2563949

      Desktop for life, with a big screen (or two, when I need it). I have my main desktop PC for my limited gaming and flight simming, but mostly to give my eyes more ease when browsing, etc. I also prefer a big keyboard and trackball. Secondly, I have a separate low-power mini PC for 24-hour usage purposes, and an older Dell desktop as a HTPC.

      My work-supplied device is a Dell notebook, so I can work from home when it’s called for, but for all my personal needs, the bigger the screen and box, the better.

      Not happy where Windows is heading, currently running W10 22H2, and I fervently hope Windows 12 appears before 10 expires, and hopefully it overcomes all the problems with W11. Otherwise, like I did for Windows 7, I’ll stick with that OS past its Use By date, simply because Windows 11 is just not acceptable.

      No matter where you go, there you are.

    • #2564108

      I use both.  Mostly for “real” work my tower, which is currently on its 3rd motherboard (intel Z397-based).  Driver for configuration is fitting massive Nvidia graphics cards, also using AIO cooling solution.  Laptop for surfing/email etc.  I like 13 inch for portability.  For my wife, I got her a high-end HP laptop that she uses with Thunderbolt 4 docking station.  Also run an SFF intel-based HTPC.  Could use something like a NUC but I have a PCI ATSC tuner card I would have to replace.

    • #2564184

      Reason #2 again with the aging thing I need a screen I can read.

      Reason #3 I don’t have to worry about battery health, overheating, catching fire, or even exploding.

      Since I retired, eyes are weakening, as well but I battle on with the same reading specs that were prescribed at about 45. Tying hooks and lures without specs when fishing seems to help. When fishing almost daily for a few years the optometrist reported my reading vision had improved.  In other words, making your eyes work hard MAY help.

      Your desktop machine probably has a lithium CMOS battery.

      My other ‘retirement’ pastime involves  a variety of power tools. I did my research before buying a spare battery and found this video. The message is very clear. It may cost you a lot more but if ever anyone needs to replace a battery, for safety sake, get an original from a reputable outlet.

      As I write, in this room I have one phone in my pocket; one old phone in a cupboard; one docked laptop beside me;  five Makita batteries on a shelf; one vacuum robot; and one CR2032 in the keychain torch, also in my pocket. At work, at times I may have had upwards of 100 laptop lithium batteries in my room at times. The risk posed by laptop batteries needs to be kept in context. Many modern devices pose a battery risk but the risk is statistically negligible. That said, make sure you keep your insurance premium up-to-date.

      Group A (but Telemetry disabled Tasks and Registry)
      1) Dell Inspiron with Win 11 64 Home permanently in dock due to "sorry spares no longer made".
      2) Dell Inspiron with Win 11 64 Home (substantial discount with Pro version available only at full price)

    • #2564310

      My choice for getting things done are my Desktops, if I travel I use my HP laptop. Seems simple to me LOL.

      Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does 🙂
      All W10 Pro at 22H2,(2 Desktops, 1 Laptop).

    • #2564417

      Custom desktop hands down and four 27 inch 1080p monitors as a “2 over 2” quad display. I use 6 windows virtual desktops. It solves the clutter problem not matter how many different projects I’m doing. It’s so simple to flip between them with keyboard shortcuts and a win+tab to view them all at one time. I do not use a mouse. Desktop keyboard has a small built-in touch pad. Suits me fine. Keyboard shortcuts rule.


      Yes, I do have two 17.3″ laptops, one 4k and other is Win 11 qualified. Screen is 1080p with a 144 refresh rate. Great for standup at the kitchen counter and travel.

    • #2564979

      I prefer a desktop computer – easier to work on, easier to add circuit boards, memory, large hard drives, etc. The one thing I do like about a laptop – built-in battery backup – is taken care of by my monster UPS, which will keep me up and running for about an hour, should the power go out.

      Certain compromises had to be made in order to shrink a laptop down to where it is portable. These compromises are a lot less now than they were when laptops first came out. Still, with a desktop computer, you don’t have to have these compromises.

      I simply prefer to work at a desk rather than wherever I happen to be at the time. Therefore, a desktop computer wins every time for me.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #2564985

      Certain compromises had to be made

      A great deal of my consulting work involved extended gigs, weeks at a time. In those cases, I found my clients willing to supply a full keyboard and display. My primary PC in those days was a laptop, usually a top-of-the-line model. Back in my home office, I also had a display and keyboard, as well as a docking station. So I was always “desktop-like.”

      Those laptops were also expandable where it counted – RAM and HDD.

      • #2565919

        My work computer is a laptop, and I have two large external monitors connected to it, as well as a mouse and a keyboard. So I have a pretty decent setup for my home office. With a keyboard, a mouse, and an external monitor, the only thing you are losing with a laptop these days is a bit of desk space. And even with the issue of internal expansion, you can add a big internal hard drive and lots of memory. And you’ll certainly have one or more digital video ports on the laptop.

        So I basically agree with you. Even still, I prefer a desktop computer to a laptop computer. Probably because I go way back, and I still remember the “good old days”, when laptops were nowhere near what they are today.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
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