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What do I need to see 3D TV

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3D TV - What you need to know

3D TV - What do I need?

You need

1) 3D HDTV - 3D Blu-ray Player
2) 3D Glasses
3) 3D Content
4) HDMI High-speed cables

You can also get a 3D Blu-ray player for 3D movies. Video games in 3D could be the most successful of all and they are already available.

3D TV - 2010 was the year of 3D TV breakout. Movies, television broadcasts, and video games are all going 3D. The added dimension of 3D is capturing the public's attention worldwide. 3D HDTVs and 3D bluray players sold in the first months of 2010 exceeded $55 million in the U.S. alone.


To view 3D TV, you need an HDTV capable of displaying 3D content. 3D HDTVs will cost a bit more than standard 2D HDTVs. Plasma 3D HDTVs will perform slightly better than LCD since their refresh rate is faster.

3D HDTVs for 2010-2011

• Samsung UN55C7000 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV

• Samsung UN46C8000 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV

Samsung's PDP8000 3D TV
Samsung's three top-of-the-line LED TV series, the 7000, 8000 and 9000, all include Samsung's proprietary built-in 3D processor, which also can auto-convert 2D content into 3D in real time. Their flagship 9000 series is thin, very thin. Samsung's 8000 series of plasmas measure less than an inch thick. The 7000 and 8000 plasmas also furnish the built-in 3D processor. As a companion product, Samsung announced the BD-C6900, their first 3D Blu-ray player.

• Sony XBR-LX900 and HX900 ranges of LED based LCD 3D Bravia HDTV's

• Panasonic 3D Ready Viera VT25 and VT20 Plasma series in 50, 54, 58 and 65 inch screen sizes and prices will start at $2,600. Each TV will come with a pair of 3D glasses. The 600hz sub field drive makes for near instantaneous response times which minimizes motion blur and ghosting and these Panasonic Viera 3D TV's have also been THX certified. One advantage Panasonic's VT20 and VT25 3d TV's have over some others is that they can playback all 3D content, whether it's frame sequential or side by side. Panasonic produces their own 3D Blu-Ray player and 3D active shutter glasses.

Panasonic's VIERA Plasma 3D TVs.
Panasonic's TC-P65VT25
65" Panasonic

Panasonic TC-P58VT25 58-inch 3D Ready 1080p VIERA Plasma HDTV

3D Glasses

Each 3-D HDTV maker produces its own glasses. Sony and Panasonic may not be compatible for example. Each viewer will need a pair of 3D glasses for the HDTV showing 3D content. Universal 3D glasses may be available in the near future. 3D HDTVs which do not require 3D glasses are also in the works. 3D glasses work together with the 3D TV so that your eyes get the proper left and right images.

Samsung SSG-2100AB Battery 3D Glasses
Compatible Models
* 2010 LCD C750 series
* 2010 LED C7000, C8000 and C9000 series
* 2010 PDP C7000 and C8000 series
* 2010 Blu-ray Disc player (BD-C6900) / HTiB (HT-C6930W)

Samsung SSG-2200AR Rechargeable Adult 3D Glasses
Compatible Models
* 2010 LCD C750 series
* 2010 LED C7000, C8000 and C9000 series
* 2010 PDP C7000 and C8000 series
* 2010 Blu-ray Disc player (BD-C6900) / HTiB (HT-C6930W)

The package includes the 3D glasses themselves, a micro-USB to USB 2.0 charging cable for your computer (or it can be plugged into the TV via USB slot on the back), a very soft cloth like carrying case for protection, and a microfiber cleaning cloth. The battery takes about 2 hours to charge fully and with one charge it will last for about 30 hours.

3D TV without glasses

The technologies that solve the problem of no glasses 3D TV are known as parallax barrier or lenticular lens technology. These methods of delivering 3D TV without glasses are also known as autostereoscopy, and the 3D TVs that deliver them are built using what's termed as 'autostereoscopic screens'.

As of April 2011, none of the methods of delivering no glasses 3D TV have been perfected and picture quality cannot currently rival that of the 3D glasses technologies.

Common 3D TV questions

Question: Can I get 3D TV right now?

Answer: 3D televisions and Blu-ray Disc players are available right now. There are few quality 3D broadcasts and few 3D movies available on Blu-ray disc right now.

Question: Do I need a 3D cable box?

Answer: Some home 3D is available today through current equipment. Firmware updates should be available from your provider. Be aware however that current decoders/receivers probably have HDMI 1.3 level capabilities and in this case you may only get 3D half-resolution viewing.

Question: What do I need for 3D Bluray?

Answer: Here's what you need for an active, 3D Blu-ray setup. A 3D Bluray player, a 3D TV, 3D Bluray movie and HDMI cables (high-speed). Also your audio video receiver has to be compatible if you want to feed the HDMI signals into and out of the receiver.

Question: Can I use my current TV for 3D?

Answer: You'll have to buy a 3D television. 2D HDTVs generally will not work for 3D viewing.

Question: Must I wear 3D glasses?

Answer: Currently, Yes. Without glasses, the picture will look blurred. The 3D TVs rapidly alternate two images — one for each eye. Shutters within the glasses open and close in synchronization with the television. This is the "active" part of 3D. The alternating images create the illusion of depth. The glasses work wirelessly and require batteries. Glasses should be matched to the television brand.

Question: Do I need a 3D Blu-ray player?

Answer: With one exception, current Blu-ray players can't handle active 3D content. However, 3D players can display 2D (standard) discs. The exception will be the Sony PlayStation 3. Its firmware will be updated. Then, it will play active 3D.

Question: What else will I need?

Answer: Cables. The high-definition standard cable is HDMI. There are several versions. 3D includes more data, so look for high-speed HDMI cables that can handle at least 10.2 gigabytes of data and match the HDMI 1.4 hardware standard. If you're using an audio-video receiver, you need one with 3D pass-through capabilities.

Question: What 3D content is available?

Answer: About 20 3D titles will be released in 2010. ESPN 3D in its first year, will air at least 85 events. Sony, Discover and IMAX will launch a dedicated channel in 2011.

Question: What other 3D information should I know?

Answer: People with stereo blindness will not be able to see 3D. Content will appear in 2D. They may experience eye fatigue and headaches. Stereo blindness is uncommon. If you've never watched a 3D movie, watch a demonstration in a store. Find out if you have stereo blindness before buying.

3D Blu-ray Player

Samsung BD-D7500 3D Bluray Player

For Blu-ray movies in 3D, you need a newer Blu-ray player with 3D capability. Models purchased in 2009 or before will not be capable of playing 3D although some may with a firmware upgrade. In late 2009, the Blu-ray Disc Association announced the finalization of the "Blu-ray 3D" specification, which is paving the way for the release of the first Blu-ray players that can playback 3D movies. Most companies that are rolling out 3D TVs are also delivering at least one model of a Blu-ray 3D player, like the Sony BDP-S770 Blu-ray 3D Player.

High Speed HDMI cables

You need the newer HDMI high-speed cables, to connect, for example, the 3D HDTV and 3D Blu-ray player. See HDMI versions for more info.

HDMI is the accepted universal connector for digital home entertainment. All versions of HDMI are backward compatible with previous versions. Part of the built-in intelligence of HDMI enables it to automatically send the highest quality video and audio formats that are mutually supported. In other words, if you connect two devices, one with HDMI version 1.3 and the other with version 1.4, the system will be limited to the HDMI 1.3 feature set.

A product's HDMI version by itself doesn't mean that all the latest features have been implemented; it does not guarantee a particular feature set. The reason is that the capabilities listed for each version of HDMI are optional, not mandatory. It's up to each manufacturer to decide which HDMI features to build into its gear.

HDMI 1.0: The original spec called for a single-cable digital audio/video connection with 165MHz bandwidth and a maximum bitrate of 4.9Gbps (enough for 1080p video). Two-channel audio only. Released December, 2002.

HDMI 1.1: Added multichannnel audio support for DVD-Audio (up to 5.1 channels). Released May, 2004.

HDMI 1.2: Added support for multichannel one-bit audio formats like SACD (Super Audio CD). Included support for HDMI connectors on personal computers. Required displays with HDMI 1.2 or later to support future low-voltage devices. Released August, 2005.

HDMI 1.2a: Fully specified the Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) features and command sets for remote control functions. Required cable manufacturers to submit longer cable lengths for additional testing for spec compliance. For a device to pass 1.2a testing, all of its HDMI connectors required inspection and approval by HDMI Licensing, LLC. Released December, 2005.

HDMI 1.3: Increased bandwidth to 340MHz and the maximum bitrate to 10.2 Gbps (plenty for 3D video). Adopted the "Deep Color" standard, which supports 10-bit, 12-bit, and 16-bit color for over one billion possible colors — previous versions were limited to 8-bit. Added support for the "xvYCC" extended-gamut color space standard (also known as x.v.Color), which supports 1.8 times as many colors as existing HDTV signals. (No commercially available video content currently uses Deep Color or x.v.Color.) Added ability to output new lossless compressed digital audio formats (Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™) for decoding by a compatible A/V receiver. Incorporated automatic "lip sync" control for perfect audio/video timing (sometimes an issue when audio is sent to a surround receiver or processor and video is delivered directly to the display). Also made available a new mini-connector for use with smaller devices such as digital cameras and camcorders. Released June, 2006.

The 1.3 specification has been updated to 1.3a, followed by 1.3b. However, for consumers, there is no difference between versions 1.3, 1.3a or 1.3b.

HDMI 1.4: Added Ethernet capability. If one HDMI 1.4 device is connected to your home network, it can share that connection with other Internet-ready HDMI 1.4 devices via a 1.4 HDMI cable. Also included the capability to send audio from your TV's tuner back to your home theater receiver. Called an "audio return channel," it's ideal for folks who use their TV's built-in tuner to watch high-def TV shows, and want to be able to enjoy surround sound with those TV shows.

What kind of HDMI cable do I need for 3D TV?

Most recent good-quality high-speed HDMI cables (10.2 Gbps) can carry 3D video. High Speed HDMI cables can support all HDMI 1.4 features except for the HDMI Ethernet Channel. If buying new cables, look for ones labeled high-speed. The full 3D signals are equivalent to nearly two 1080p signals, simultaneously. High-speed HDMI with Ethernet cables are also available.

High Speed HDMI Cable

The High Speed HDMI cable is designed and tested to handle video resolutions of 1080p and beyond, including advanced display technologies such as 4K, 3D, and Deep Color. If you are using any of these technologies, or if you are connecting your 1080p display to a 1080p content source, such as a Blu-ray Disc player, this is the recommended cable.

High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet

This cable type offers the same baseline performance as the High Speed HDMI Cable (1080p video resolution and beyond), plus an additional, dedicated data channel, known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel, for device networking. HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality is only available if both linked devices are HDMI Ethernet Channel-enabled.

HDMI Ethernet Channel – Adds high-speed networking to an HDMI link, allowing users to take full advantage of their IP-enabled devices without a separate Ethernet cable.

3D Content

You will need 3D content from a 3D Bluray disc or TV broadcast or video game. For 3D TV, you need a source that delivers 3D content to a 3D TV.

DirectTV 3D beginning in June 2010 - DIRECTV HD customers will receive a free software upgrade enabling them to have access to three dedicated 3D channels through their 3D television sets. The satellite company will offer a 24/7 3D pay per view channel focused on movies, documentaries and other programming, a 24/7 3D DIRECTV on Demand channel and a free 3D sampler demo channel featuring event programming such as sports, music and other content.

ESPN 3D will showcase a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning June 11, 2010 with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match.

Other events to be produced in 3-D include the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, college basketball and football contests, up to 25 World Cup matches and the Summer X Games.

3D movies - some 20 or so movies will be available in 2010 with many more in 2011.

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Question: How does 3D TV work?

Answer: There is more than one way of creating the three dimensional illusion on a TV screen. The most prevalent method entails displaying alternate frames (left eye and then right eye) on the TV. To complete the process, you, as the viewer, must wear active shutter glasses that block the left lens or right lens in sync with the TV display. Your optic system and your brain then meld the two images together. Remember that all 3D TVs can revert to traditional 2D HDTVs with the touch of a button.

Question: What powers the 3D glasses if they get a signal from the 3D HDTV?

Answer: The active shutter glasses require batteries to power the constant shuttering left/right. Some use batteries that are rechargeable. Most TV manufacturers are not packaging more than one set of active shutter glasses with their 3D TVs. Any additional members of the family will require you to purchase extra compatible 3D glasses for each.

Question: Do I need to worry about compatibility between HDMI versions?

Answer: Only if you're working with HDMI 1.4-rated gear, and want to take advantage of certain advanced features that are new to the HDMI 1.4 spec. However, each new HDMI version is backwards compatible with older versions, so your older and newer HDMI-equipped components can generally still work together.

Question: Can I watch 3D from my Sony first-gen Bluray player?

If you want to watch 3D TV, every component in your system needs to be capable of carrying 3D video signals, and they all need to be connected via HDMI. First-generation Blu-ray players cannot process 3D.

Question: Can I use my 5 year old Audio/Video Receiver for 3D?

Answer: If you're routing your 3D Blu-ray player's video signal through a non-3D home theater receiver, the receiver won't be able to pass 3D video on to your TV, resulting in a blank screen.

Question: When I try to watch a regular 2D movie, why does my 3D TV's screen goes blank?

Answer: If your TV is set to display video in 3D only, it may not be able to accept a regular 2D signal. Go into your TV's display menus and select "Auto" (or something similar) which tells the TV to display any incoming signals, 2D or 3D, rather than only 3D.

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VCR Recording

What is 3D TV?

3D TV is a generic term for a display technology that lets home viewers experience TV programs, movies, games, and other video content in a stereoscopic effect. It adds the illusion of a third dimension, depth, to current TV and HDTV display technology, which is typically limited to only height and width ("2D").

How does 3D TV work?

A 3D TV works much like 3D at the theater. A screen showing 3D content displays two separate images of the same scene simultaneously, one intended for the viewer's right eye and one for the left eye. The two full-size images occupy the entire screen and appear intermixed with one another--objects in one image are often repeated or skewed slightly to the left (or right) of corresponding objects in the other--when viewed without the aid of special 3D glasses. When people view with the 3D glasses, they perceive these two images as a single 3D image, a process known as "fusing."

The system relies on a phenomenon of visual perception called stereopsis. The eyes of an adult human lie about 2.5 inches apart, which lets each eye see objects from slightly different angles. The two images on a 3D TV screen present objects from two slightly different angles as well, and when those images combine in the viewer's mind with the aid of the glasses, the illusion of depth is created.

How is the new 3D TV technology different from older 3D?

Most people are familiar with the old anaglyph method, where a pair of glasses with lenses tinted red and cyan (or other colors) is used to combine two false-color images. The result seen by the viewer is discolored and usually lower-resolution than the new method.

The principal improvements afforded by new 3D TV technologies are full color and high resolution--full 1080p HD resolution for both eyes in Blu-ray 3D, for example, and half that resolution in broadcast 3D used by DirecTV and other providers. Note that current passive 3D TV technology affects adversely resolution.

What's the difference between active and passive 3D?

Most 3D TVs use active liquid crystal shutter glasses, which work by very quickly blocking each eye in sequence (typically 120 times per second) to separate the different right and left images required for 3D. The glasses, in addition to the liquid-crystal lenses, contain electronics and batteries (good for 80 or more hours and often rechargeable) that sync to the TV via an infrared or (in many 2011 models) RF signal. They currently cost $60-$120 per pair when sold separately.

I've heard 3D causes headaches. Is that true?

Viewing certain programming on a 3D TV can cause headaches or other ill effects in some viewers, especially over longer periods of time. Comfort is a major concern of most 3D producers. Too much of a 3D effect can become tiresome after a while, abrupt camera movement can be disorienting, and certain onscreen objects can appear blurry, for example. The best 3D movies, like "Avatar," tend to use depth effects that stay close to the plane of the screen, with fewer objects that pop out or recede into the screen excessively. Even so, comfort with 3D varies widely from viewer to viewer, and one recent study found that older viewers can experience less discomfort than younger ones.

What do I need to watch 3D TV at home?

To watch anything in 3D you'll need a 3D-compatible TV and a source capable of delivering 3D content to the television--most often a 3D Blu-ray player, but perhaps a cable or satellite box, game console or streaming video device. For some setups you'll want an AV receiver or home theater system that can switch HDMI 3D sources. You'll also need a pair of 3D glasses for every viewer.

Does the movie, TV show or video game need to be in 3D?

Yes. With the exception of simulated 3D you'll need specialized, new 3D content to watch 3D. The most common such content today takes the form of 3D Blu-ray discs, which first appeared in 2010, that adhere to a specific 3D standard and bear the 3D Blu-ray logo. TV shows and video games also need to be in a specific 3D format to provide the 3D effect.

How many 3D Blu-ray discs are available now?

Very few. The first 3D Blu-ray, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs." was released on June 22, 2010. Check for more titles.

What TV shows and networks are in 3D now?

Aside from sports, no mainstream TV programming is produced in 3D, and not many major networks aside from Discovery and ESPN have announced 3D channels. The most widely-carried 3D channel is ESPN 3D, available on DirecTV, Comcast, U-verse and Time Warner cable. It launched in June 2010 with the World Cup soccer tournament and went to a 24-hour format on February 14, 2011. It shows some live events, such as the 2010 Home Run derby and a few college football and NBA games, but most of the content is prerecorded. DirecTV also launched n3D, the first 24-hour 3D channel and an exclusive venture with Panasonic, last year. It shows the occasional 3D event, such as the 2010 baseball All-Star game and US Open tennis tournament. On February 13, 2011, DirecTV began carrying 3net, another 24-hour 3D channel from Discovery, IMAX and Sony that will specialize in nature and documentary programs.

Are there any 3D video games?

Among video game consoles the Sony PS3 supports the widest selection of games, including Gran Tourismo 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops, and plans a full slate of 2011 releases including Killzone 3 and Uncharted 3. The Xbox 360 supports a few as well, including COD: BO and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but doesn't deliver nearly as many as the PS3. Nintendo's Wii doesn't have 3D games, but the company will launch the 3DS, a glasses-free portable gaming platform, (March 2011).

Do any Internet streaming services offer 3D?

Vudu is the first, delivering 3D movies in the side-by-side format to select TVs and Blu-ray players, including the Sony PlayStation 3. Samsung offers a separate TV "App" with trailers for 3D movies. Netflix and Amazon Video-on-Demand will offer 3D eventually.

Do I need a new TV?

Yes. With one exception, no HDTVs can be upgraded to support the new 3D formats used by Blu-ray, DirecTV, the Sony PlayStation3 and others. One reason is that the TV must be able to accept a higher-bandwidth signal (technically 120Hz) to display Blu-ray 3D, and older TVs can typically only accept relatively lower-bandwidth (60Hz or less) signals. That's potentially confusing because many non-3D LCDs have 120Hz and 240Hz refresh rates, and manufacturer marketing also mentions "600Hz" plasmas. Regardless of the "Hz" spec, these non-3D models can only handle a source that outputs at 60Hz or less via HDMI--the "conversion" to a higher rate, if applicable, occurs inside the TV itself.

Another reason is that 3D requires different video processing and additional hardware, including some way to send the necessary infrared or Bluetooth signal to the active 3D glasses.

The exception mentioned above applies to the approximately 4 million 3D compatible rear-projection DLP and plasma TVs sold in the last few years by Mitsubishi and Samsung. Both companies sold such DLPs, and Samsung also sold the PNB450 (2009) and PNA450 (2008) series plasmas, but all of them required a special 3D kit, along with connection to a PC source, to display 3D. Mitsubishi now sells a conversion kit ($449 with two pair of glasses) that allows older Samsung and Mitsubishi 3D DLP TVs--but not older Samsung 3D plasmas--to work with the new 3D sources. Third-party sites also sell conversion kits that work with these legacy 3D TVs.

Can the 3D feature on a 3D TV be turned off?

Yes. All 3D TVs will display current 2D content with no problem and no glasses required, and their 2D picture quality is not affected in any negative way we've noticed by their 3D capabilities. The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for all such discs to also include a 2D version of the movie, allowing current 2D players to play them with no problem.

Can a 3D TV convert 2D movies, shows and games to 3D?

Many TVs can convert 2D sources to 3D, but quality is a concern.

Do 3D TVs use more power?

That depends on the TV. Some do and some do not.

Will all 3D TVs work with all 3D formats?

Unlike with Blu-ray versus HD DVD, there doesn't seem to be a major "format war" between the various methods for delivering 3D. Those methods include "frame packing" for Blu-ray (the only one to promise "full 1080p to each eye"), side-by-side and top-and-bottom for TV programming and most games (which both halve resolution), and "checkerboard" (used primarily by the older DLP models) . All new 3D TVs will handle all three formats. New 3D TVs are designed to handle multiple 3D formats, although sometimes you'll have to select a format manually.

Do 3D TVs come with glasses? How many pair?

In 2010 only two TVs included active 3D glasses, the Sony XBR-LX900 series (two pair) and the Panasonic VT20/VT25 series (one pair). The Vizio XVT3D650SV, which was released in December 2010, includes four pair of passive 3D glasses. Active 3D glasses will remain an optional ($60/pair and up) accessory for all but the highest-end HDTVs. Bundling glasses in with the TV for "free" will remain a selling point for passive models.

Can I use any 3D glasses with any 3D TV?

No. Active 3D glasses are proprietary for each manufacturer, so for example if you have a Samsung 3D TV, only the Samsung active 3D glasses will work with it. Passive 3D TVs, on the other hand, will work with most circular polarized 3D glasses regardless of brand.

Does everyone watching a 3D TV need to wear the glasses?

Yes. Every member of a family sitting around the 3D TV, for example, must wear the glasses to see the 3D effect. If they don't, the image on the screen will appear doubled, distorted, and, for most practical purposes, unwatchable. Currently, there's no technology that lets a single TV display both 2D and 3D content simultaneously without glasses.

Can I wear 3D glasses over regular glasses?

Yes. People who wear normal prescription lenses already can experience the full effect by wearing the 3D glasses too, which are designed to fit over an existing pair of glasses. Of course it can be less comfortable to wear two pairs of glasses.

When will we get glasses-free 3D TV?

Glasses-free, or autostereoscopic, 3D TVs have been released before, and are available now in Japan from Toshiba, but the technology is not ready for the mainstream. It's currently quite expensive, of limited screen size and requires viewers to sit in very specific places relative to the screen.

Do I need a new Blu-ray player, cable box, game console, or AV receiver?

With one huge exception the answer for Blu-ray players is "yes." No Blu-ray player maker has said it will upgrade existing 2009 or earlier standalone players to work with Blu-ray 3D movies, so a new 3D-compatible Blu-ray player will be required for many viewers to view the new 3D Blu-rays. The Sony PS3 is the huge exception. Sony released a free update in September 2010 that allows its game console to play 3D Blu-rays. A few 3D games are available for the Xbox 360, but it's not a major focus for Microsoft the way it is for Sony. Many current DVRs, satellite and cable boxes will allow you to view 3D TV shows, although all use the lower-resolution "side-by-side" format. Check with your provider to determine 3D programming availability. Unless you use your AV receiver for switching between HDMI video sources, you won't have to upgrade to enjoy 3D Blu-ray movies. You could get a 3D Blu-ray player with dual-HDMI outputs, such as the Panasonic DMP-BDT350, Samsung BD-C7900 or Samsung BD-D6700, or forgo high-resolution Blu-ray soundtracks that require an HDMI connection to the receiver. If you do want to retain HDMI switching on a receiver with even a single 3D source, you will need to get an AV receiver that's 3D compatible.

Can I use my existing HDMI cables?

Yes. HDMI High-Speed cables are available, but old ones should work fine for 3D for now.

Are there any 3D cameras and camcorders?

Yes. 2010 saw some still cameras and camcorders that can produce 3D photos and video, and in 2011 even more will arrive.

Which is better: Active or passive 3D TV?


Which is better: plasma or LCD 3D TVs?

Plasma right now but LCD (with LED backlight) may equal in 2011-2012.

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