Who Makes the Best 10” Tablet on Earth?

Last update: February 3, 2013

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Tablet Shopping Guide – No Opinions, Just the Facts

There have been lots of new tablets released since my last article, so I’ve decided to do an update. I started by evaluating all of the popular tablets, and then narrowed the list down to only eight finalists. Although there are some truly amazing 7” to 8.9” tablets out there, this article is only evaluating tablets that are 9.7” and larger. You can learn more about the new iPad mini and other smaller tablets here.

This time I’m trying a new approach. Instead of giving my opinion, I’m going to provide the facts, and let you decide for yourself. If you think I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments section. This is a “living” article that will be updated as I come across new information. Make sure to check back to see what has changed.

Apple just recently released the iPad 4 with a Lightning connector

Let’s start with the king of the tablets: The iPad. Apple has sold more tablets than any other manufacturer – by a long shoot. Just last week, Apple refreshed the “new iPad” by adding a Lightning connector, bumping up the speed on the processor and upgraded the front-facing camera. Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of the newest iPad:

Apple iPad 4


  • Very good build-quality – All metal and glass construction
  • Fast performance – Beats the Nexus 10 on most benchmarks
  • Twice as fast as the iPad 3 in some benchmarks
  • More tablet-optimized apps than any other platform (275,000)
  • Very powerful battery (11,560 mAh) – Up to 10 hours battery life
  • Gets iOS updates on the first day they are available
  • Retina display (2nd highest resolution here 2048×1536)
  • One of the brightest displays
  • Boots in only 16 seconds
  • Excellent color accuracy
  • iOS apps are less likely to contain malware than Android apps
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Optional 3G/4G support
  • Great selection of third-party accessories
  • 12W AC adapter for slightly faster charging
  • Lightning connector is reversible so it can’t be inserted wrong
  • Has AirPlay support for wireless media beaming
  • Touchscreen can register 11 points at a time
  • Powerful headphone amp
  • 1080p video with digital image-stabilization
  • Very good HTML5 performance
  • Best for portrait use
  • Smart cover automatically powers on the tablet when opened
  • Physical home button
  • Weaknesses

  • Heavier than all of the other tablets here except one (652g)
  • Thicker than all of the other tablets here except one (9.4mm)
  • Identical to the iPad 3 in most ways except processor, front cam and connector (case, display, etc.)
  • No memory expansion slot
  • Wi-Fi-only model doesn’t have an internal GPS
  • Use a proprietary connector so you can’t connect USB or HDMI cables directly
  • Lightning connector has no backward compatibility, so older accessories won’t work unless you buy an adapter
  • Much more difficult to repair than other tablets. Gets 2 out of 10 rating, which is horrible
  • Retina display has a big impact on battery life. One reviewer reports only 5.5 hrs video playback at full brightness
  • Gets badly beaten by the Nexus 10 on benchmarks like Geekbench (2480 vs. 1768)
  • Loads web pages slower than an iPad mini
  • 3G/4G support costs $130 more (plus data charges and other monthly fees)
  • Single mono speaker (no front-facing stereo speakers)
  • Has half the memory of other tablets (1GB vs. 2GB)
  • Some visible light leakage the LCD display
  • No quad-core CPU like other tablets have
  • Doesn’t have NFC support
  • Gets very warm on the left-hand side after you’ve been using it for a while
  • Very reflective display
  • The iSight camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras
  • The iPad 4’s iSight camera lacks panorama, Photo Sphere and camera features found in other Android tablets
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Parental controls only work with iOS and even then have serious limitations
  • No camera flash – Low light photos are very noisy
  • The front camera records noisy 720p videos at a only 24fps in low light
  • No mouse support
  • Only has a 1.2MP front camera
  • Screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio, so 16:9 movies cannot be displayed full screen a must be letter-boxed
  • Has a 4-core GPU while other tablets have 8 or 12-cores
  • Worse battery life than all previous iPads
  • Screen is smaller than other tablets
  • No back button or menu button
  • Acer makes several affordable 10.1″ quad-core tablets

    Acer has three different 10.1” quad-core powered Android tablets with very similar specs: The Acer Iconia Tab A700 (which came out back in June) and the newer A700-10s32u and A700-10k32u tablets. The A700-10k32u tablets seems like a good value at only $399.99

    Acer Iconia A Series


  • Full HD 1920×1200 display (224 ppi)
  • Quad-core processor
  • A good value – starting at $399 with 32GB
  • Good build-quality
  • 32GB storage (twice other tablets)
  • Includes a GPS
  • Stereo speakers
  • Has a microSD slot for memory expansion
  • Runs Android 4.1
  • HDMI connector for TV-out
  • Weaknesses

  • 1GB of memory (Some others have 2GB)
  • Camera lacks an LED flash
  • No 3G/4G cellular option
  • Acer doesn’t specify a resolution for the front cam (normally that means it’s 0.3MP)
  • No NFC support
  • No 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi support
  • Not as thin or light as some other tablets
  • No internal microphone
  • The ASUS PadFone 2 and dock are extremely innovative

    The ASUS PadFone2 is one of the most innovative mobile devices available today. Its Android-powered smartphone has amazing specs and a 13MP camera. The phones slides into a dock to become a tablet.

    Asus PadFone 2 with Dock


  • Fast quad-core processor (1.5GHz)
  • Detachable phone works on its own, or docks in tablet
  • 13-megapixel Sony BSI sensor plus f/2.4 five-element optics
  • Almost zero shutter lag, can also shoot up to 100 continuous shots at 6 fps
  • 1080p at up to 30 fps
  • 720p at up to 60 fps
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • 3G/4G support
  • NFC support
  • 9.5 hour battery life
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Phone and dock weight less than the iPad 3 or iPad 4 (649g)
  • 50GB of free ASUS web storage
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • No MicroSD slot
  • Not the highest resolution display (1280×800)
  • Single mono speaker
  • No physical home button
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No U.S. carriers are offering this phone yet
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • The Asus Transformer has one of the best keyboard docks available

    The original ASUS Transformer Prime was the world’s first quad-core tablet. This Android-powered tablet been upgraded to a 1920p HD display and has an excellent optional keyboard dock. Some reviewers believe this is the best tablet available today.

    Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700


  • Fastest quad-core processor available today (1.6GHz)
  • Thinner than any of the other tablets here (8.5mm)
  • Twice the storage of most other tablets for $499 (32GB vs. 16GB)
  • True 1920p HD display (224ppi)
  • Fast graphics (12-core GPU)
  • Beats the Nexus 10 on most benchmarks
  • Android 4.1.1 update available (ships with 4.0.4)
  • Excellent keyboard dock with full-sized USB connector which offers 13-14 hours of battery life
  • 8MP camera with f2.2 aperture
  • Can operate as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Very good build-quality
  • Full size SD card slot
  • Light skin that doesn’t get in the way as much as TouchWiz
  • Bright display
  • Better black levels than the iPad 4 or Nexus 10
  • Higher contrast ratio than the iPad 4 or Nexus 10
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • LED flash for camera
  • You can connect a standard mouse or external HD drive directly to the keyboard
  • microHDMI connector
  • Two microphones for stereo sound recording
  • Good selection of pre-loaded apps
  • 1080p video capture
  • Gorilla glass 2 screen
  • Nexus devices do not come with locked or encrypted bootloaders. That means you are free to install customs ROMs and tailor your device however you like
  • Has an ASUS customized settings app
  • When docked, the battery life on the Transformer Prime is second to none


  • Price starts at $599 but includes 32GB
  • Half the memory of other tablets (1GB vs. 2GB)
  • Images taken with camera are not the best
  • No NFC support
  • Slower Wi-Fi download speeds than the Nexus 10 and some other tablets
  • Not great low-light performance on camera
  • Single rear-facing speaker
  • Keyboard dock is $150 when purchased separately, but includes powerful battery
  • No dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • Other tablets have better I/O performance
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No physical home button
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Barnes’s and Noble’s Nook HD+ is the first 9.0″ tablet

    Barnes’s and Noble’s Nook HD+ is the the world’s first 9.0″ tablet. It’s very light and costs less than any other tablet here (pricing starts at $269). This is a pure e-reader without extras like cameras, GPS and cellular capabilities.

    Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD+


  • The most affordable tablet here ($269 and up)
  • High-resolution HD display (1920×1280)
  • The lightest tablet here (only 515g)
  • Includes stereo speakers
  • High pixel densitiy screen (256ppi)
  • Expandable memory via Micro SD slot
  • Parental controls for a kid-safe experience
  • HDMI out via cable
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • Weaknesses

  • Not yet shipping (pre-order available 11/8)
  • The thickest tablet here (11.4mm)
  • No front or rear cameras
  • Least powerful battery here (4000 mAh)
  • No 3G/4G data option
  • No NFC support
  • No Dual-band 5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • No GPS support
  • Lacks an ambient light sensor for automatic screen brightness adjustment
  • The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is a durable business-ready tablet

    The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is a business-ready Android tablet. It has a fast quad-core processor and is thin, light and durable.

    Fujitsu Stylistic M532


  • Fast quad-core processor
  • The 2nd thinnest tablet tablet here (8.6mm)
  • Above-average durability
  • Designed for Business – Includes Absolute Computrace security
  • Has 32GB storage
  • Highest megapixel front camera available today in a tablet (2MP)
  • Has stereo speakers
  • 8MP rear camera
  • Has 2.4GHz/5.0GHz dual-band Wi-Fi
  • micro USB port
  • GPS support
  • Stock Android – No bloatware
  • microSD card slot
  • Weaknesses

  • Display is good, but it’s 1280×800. The best tablets are 1920×1080 or higher
  • Only 149 pixels per inch on display (the best have 200-300ppi)
  • Inaccurate touch screen
  • No 3G/4G cellular data option
  • Expensive $549
  • 30-pin proprietary connector
  • Runs Android 4.0.3
  • Only 1GB RAM (some others have 2GB)
  • No NFC support
  • No HDMI port (docking cradle ($69 direct) which allows HDMI out and USB inputs)
  • 5 hour battery life – Lowest power battery here (3170 mAh)
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • The Huawei MediaPad 10 is a 10 inch Android tablet with a quad-core CPU

    The Huawei MediaPad 10 is a 10 inch Android tablet with a quad-core CPU and optional LTE support. Currently it’s only available in Europe.

    Huawei MediaPad 10


  • Quad-core CPU
  • 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display
  • Optional LTE support
  • Very thin (8.8mm)
  • Attractive design
  • 2GB memory
  • Good benchmark scores
  • Relatively light (580g)
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dolby 5.1 audio support
  • Strong audio output
  • microSD slot
  • Powerful amp for speakers
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • Gorilla Glass screen
  • HDMI connector for TV-out
  • 1080p video
  • Weaknesses

  • Pricing starts at 424 euros ($540 for 8GB Wi-Fi only)
  • Currently not available in the U.S.
  • Not great battery life (7+ hours)
  • Lacks microSD slot for storage expansion
  • Proprietary USB connector (no standard microUSB)
  • Heavy OS skin
  • No app drawer
  • No NFC support
  • Occasional delay when switching between open apps or launching apps
  • Sharp edges
  • Some issues with cameras
  • Rear-facing speakers
  • Highly-reflective screen
  • The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 has a built-in FM radio

    The IdeaTab S2110 is a 10/1″ Android-powered tablet from Lenovo with 3G connectivity and a built-in FM radio.

    Lenovo IdeaTab S2110


  • Very nice keyboard dock
  • Only tablet with a built-in FM radio
  • A good value. Pricing starts at $429
  • Bright display with 178° wide viewing angle
  • Very thin (8.69mm)
  • Fast dual-core processor (1.5GHz)
  • Dual speakers and SRS TruMedia audio enhancement
  • Optional 3G connectivity
  • 10 hours battery life
  • Optional dock increases battery life to 16+ hours
  • Sturdy construction
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Micro-HDMI output
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • 5.0MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • 1080p video recording
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • Lacks microSD slot for storage expansion
  • No optional 4G cellular
  • No NFC support
  • GPS is only available on 3G-enabled model
  • No 5GHz dual-band Wi-fi support
  • Matte finish attracts fingerprints
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No physical home button
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • The Microsoft Surface RT is the only tablet which runs Office today

    The Microsoft Surface RT is the most affordable Windows 8 tablet available today ($499). It runs Microsoft’s new Windows 8 Operating system and comes preloaded with a full-version of Microsoft Office.

    Microsoft Surface RT


  • Preloaded with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013
  • Most affordable Windows 8 tablet ($499)
  • Best laptop replacement
  • Quad-core processor (1.3GHz)
  • Twice as much memory as iPad 4 and most other tablets (2GB)
  • Twice the storage as most other tablets (32GB vs. 16GB)
  • Split-screen multi-tasking feature
  • Multi-user support
  • Full-sized USB jack (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • More than twice as good as the iPad 3 in a JavaScript benchmark
  • Large screen 10.6”
  • Dual speakers
  • microSD memory slot
  • Has a sturdy built-in stand
  • 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Better keyboard support than some other tablets
  • The membrane keyboard doubles as a cover
  • Good HTML5 performance
  • 16:9 screen
  • microHDMI jack
  • Gets OS updates on the first day they are available
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • Limited number of great third-party Windows 8 apps
  • Preloaded OS and apps consume 12 GB of space
  • Heaviest tablet here (676g)
  • Windows 8 requires some learning curve
  • Some reviewers say battery life is only 7-8 hours
  • No GPS support
  • Can’t run legacy Windows apps
  • Slower web page loading than other tablets
  • Outlook is not included with Office, so you have to use Mail and Calendar to sync up with Exchange
  • No NFC support
  • Only 1MP front and rear cameras with no auto-focus
  • No Dropbox (or other third-party Cloud-based storage apps) are available today
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • Screen resolution is good, but not great (1,366×768)
  • Lower pixel density than other tablets here (148ppi)
  • Touchscreen can only register five points at a time
  • Magnetic cord is sometimes hard to attach
  • No camera flash
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Only 720p video support
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Looking for a good collection of Microsoft Surface RT hardware reviews?.

    The Nexus 10 tablet is the first 10″ tablet which runs Android 4.2

    The Google Nexus 10 is an Android tablet which has a Samsung Exynos 5250 processor clocked at 1.7 GHz. It’s a dual-core Cortex-A15 chip that performs well in benchmark tests. Central to the speed of the Exynos 5 Dual is the ARM Mali-T604 graphics processor, which more than doubles the 3D performance of the already fast Samsung Galaxy S III’s chip. But the biggest standout in the Nexus 10 is its beautiful 2560×1600-pixel display.

    Nexus 10


  • World’s first tablet with a WQXGA 2560×1600-pixel display
  • Starts at only $399
  • First tablet with an Exynos 5 ARM Cortex-A15 processor that beats the Tegra 3 in benchmarks.
  • First and only tablet which runs Android 4.2. Will be the first to get Android 4.3
  • First tablet with multi-user support which allows you to set up a guest profile so someone can check their email but can’t update your Facebook status. Also allows different family members to have there own spaces and apps.
  • World’s highest resolution tablet display (300ppi) – Over 4 million pixels. Games like “Nova” look much sharper on the Nexus 10 than on the iPad 4
  • Pure Android OS (no skinning or bloatware)
  • Fastest processor speed available in a tablet today (1.7GHz). The Verge says: “apps launch a lot faster and multitasking is an absolute breeze — even with 20 apps open, nothing seemed to slow down.”
  • Fast quad-core Mali-T604 graphics processor – Engadget says it has the “smoothest graphics we’ve seen.”
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • Comes with 5 books, 3 magazines, 10 songs, an HD movie and a TV show
  • Beats the iPad 4 on benchmarks like Geekbench (2480 vs. 1768)
  • Android 4.2’s voice input and speech-to-text entry are second to none
  • NFC support (Only mobile device with dual NFC sensors)
  • Gets all Android updates the first day they are available
  • The new Android 4.2 Gallery app has been improved so you can now tweak your photos like pro software.
  • Has Google Wallet preloaded. Allows you to purchase things with your tablet.
  • Boots in 19-24 seconds
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Well-built and durable
  • Has MIMO WiFi and accelerated page-loading
  • Very good sounding stereo front-facing speakers
  • Rated “extremely repairable”
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Pleasant to hold. Doesn’t dig into your hand like the iPad 4
  • Has an RGB notification LED
  • Fast and smooth scrolling. The entire user interface runs at 60fps.
  • Android 4.2 has a new Swype-style keyboard that allows you to slide your finger around the keyboard to spell out words more quickly and accurately
  • Built-in barometer sensor improves GPS accuracy
  • Smart cover automatically powers on the tablet when opened
  • LED flash
  • No bloatware (pre-loaded apps which cannot be removed)
  • Quick settings can be accessed by pulling down on the top right portion of the screen
  • 16:9 display
  • Good parental controls (when multiple profiles used)
  • Photos taken with its rear camera have better color accuracy, definition and less noise than the iPad 4’s camera
  • 1080 video recording
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • Gorilla Glass 2 screen
  • Built-in micro-HDMI port
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • 16GB model is only available from the online Google Play store. 32GB model is available from Walmart, Staples, and Google Play
  • Many reviewers feel the Android ecosystem is lacking when it comes to good tablet apps
  • No microSD memory slot
  • Android 4.2 contains more bugs than earlier versions. Some were addressed in a 3.2.1 update, but others remain
  • No docks and limited other accessories are available yet
  • The included charger charges slowly, Consider buying Google’s magnetic pogo charger instead
  • No quad-core processor – Gets beat by the iPad 4, Transformer Prime and Galaxy Note 10.1 on most benchmarks
  • Battery life is acceptable, not great. One reviewer reports only 5 hours of video playback at full brightness
  • No 3G/4G support option today (some say it’s planned for the future)
  • Not as thin as the Asus Transformer Infinity (8.9mm)
  • Camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras.
  • Has a slightly larger bezel than other tablets (0.9″ Nexus 10 vs. 0.8″ iPad 4)
  • Like the iPad, it has some light leakage around the lower corners and sides of the LCD display
  • Wi-Fi signal strength issues
  • Lacks support of 802.11a
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Miracast not currently enabled
  • Its “smart cover” doesn’t stay closed very well
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • No physical home button
  • More Nexus issues listed under my first impressions article and a second article.
  • Update: The Nexus 10 went on sale on November 13th and the 32GB model sold out within two hours. Since then, Google has gotten more in.

    What about the build-quality of the Nexus 10? Click here, and scroll down to the bottom of the article.

    You can see the Split Screen feature here on the Galaxy Note 10.1

    The Galaxy Note 10.1 is the only tablet here with full stylus support including pressure sensitivity. This Android-powered tablet also has the ability to split the screen in two and run two apps at once.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1


  • Full stylus support (1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Fast quad-core processor (1.4GHz)
  • Excellent performance – Fast GPU – Beats the Nexus 10 on several benchmarks
  • Multi-view split-screen multi-tasking feature
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • Very thin (8.9 mm)
  • microSD memory slot
  • Built-in infrared transmitter
  • 9+ hours battery life (7000mAh)
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Optional 3G/4G support
  • Good sounding stereo speakers
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Includes quality stylus and storage space for it in the case
  • microHDMI jack
  • Weaknesses

  • Average-quality case
  • Average-quality 5MP camera
  • Not the highest resolution display (1280×800)
  • Uses TouchWiz skin
  • No NFC support
  • Preloaded with some Samsung apps which cannot be removed
  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • Camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras.
  • No physical home button
  • Not scratch-resistant glass
  • Some have reported the default Clock, Media Hub, Game Hub and Music Hub widgets affect performance
  • The Sony Xperia Tablet S is one of the thinnest tablets available

    The Sony Experia is the lightest tablet here. This Android-powered tablet has a fast quad-core processor and built-in infrared transmitter.

    Sony Xperia Tablet S


  • Starts at only $399
  • Lightest tablet here (570g)
  • Quad-core processor (1.3GHz)
  • Built-in infrared transmitter with programmable macros
  • Very thin (8.6 mm)
  • NFC support
  • 8MP camera
  • Scratch-resistant screen
  • Splash-proof (water resistant)
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Stereo speakers
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Full-sized SD card
  • Full-sized USB port (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • Full-sized HDMI jack (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • Aluminum body
  • Weaknesses

  • Only 1GB RAM
  • Not the highest resolution screen (1280×800)
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • Back is not flat. Has a bump near the top
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • No physical home button
  • No camera flash
  • Areas of strength are shown in blue; Weakness is shown in red

    That’s it! Now it’s up to you to select the best tablet based on your needs. Let me know which one you decide to buy and why.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    – Rick

    P.S. Because I’m starting to get some stupid comments from Apple fan-boys, I’m going to give you a little background: Before anyone accuses me of being an Android fan-boy, you should know that almost all of this article was written on an iPad 3, which I like very much. I write very opinionated articles about all platforms. My previous post was about Windows 8 tablets. One of my most popular posts slams Samsung and Google about beaming. I was also an iPhone user for three years and think Apple TV is a great product. Some of the new Apple products look very appealing to me, but sadly the iPad 4 is not one of them. I’ve listed everything good and bad I can find about every tablet here and I’m continually updating this post as I find more stuff. Make sure to check back later to see how this article evolves. There are a few new tablets that have come out since I wrote this. Although I haven’t had time to add them yet, you can read about them in the Comments section of this article.

    Thanks for making this my most popular post ever!

    This post received more views on 10/30 than any other post I’ve even made. I never thought it was possible to get this many views in a single day. Thanks everyone!

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

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