|N9EWO / Guest Portable Review(s) :
|- TIVDIO V-115 / Audiomax - Kaimeda SRW-710S
- Kaito KA29 / Degen DE29
- DEGEN DE-1103 (DSP Version)
(N9EWO Review on TIVDIO V-115 - Bottom of Page)
Craig Menning checks out the TIVDIO V-111 , V-115 and Kaito KA29 portable receivers.
The V-115 and KA29 both have built in "Off Air" internal recording functions.
N9EWO's comments on the TIVDIO V-115 can be found below Craig's reviews and the internal photo's.
Review : Craig Menning N7TQM with his look at the TIVDIO V-111 and
V-115 (also known as the Audiomax and Kaimeda SRW-710S) as well as the
and DEGEN DE-1103 (DSP Version). Many thanks Craig. PLEASE NOTE : I
have edited parts of his text to adjust to the web page format. We also
have added links for additional information and references. My side of
the TIVDIO V-115 can be found at the bottom of this page. Dave N9EWO
A Tale of Two Radios
A while back, Dave brought the TIVDIO V-115 to my attention.
This led me to take a look on eBay to see what this was about. I noticed other
low priced DSP based radios and wondered how well they worked. By having a DSP
chip, these radios could offer decent performance.
Disclaimer: All of what follows is based upon using a single
copy of each radio. Production differences may lead to different results for
Tivdio V-111 and V-115
Characteristics: Here a features of the radios, but not a
rehash of eBay listings.
- Radios are small.
- Are under $ 20. USD on eBay.
- Both are
packaged by the vendor in a cardboard box, The radio is enclosed in
plastic. There is no other packaging. (eBay vendors add their own outer
packaging for shipping.)
- Have rather short whip antennas.
- Provide features for tilting them on a table, about 30 degrees of tilt.
- Both show good selectivity as would be expected by the DSP.
- Displays can read with the backlight is off, unlike Eton radios.
- Both receive stronger SW stations.
Differences: There are the obvious differences between the
- V-111 uses up/down buttons for tuning, V-115 adds ten buttons for direct frequency entry.
- V-111 uses two AA batteries, V115 uses a 1000 mAh lithium rechargeable battery.
- The display on the V-115 is more informative
- V-111 has a mechanical power switch on the side; the V-115 does not.
has a TF (micro SD) card slot as well as a USB port. They allow for
playing audio files and charging the internal battery. Recordings can
be made off the air. The V-111 has none of this.
- V-111 arrived
dead on AM. This was because one of the wires for the AM antenna was
not connected although the wire was still held by the glue covering the
attachment to the PC board where it should have been soldered. The was
- V-115 speaker sounds much better.
The real question: how well do they work as radios. Most of
the testing was done on AM and FM. On AM, the V-111 has an edge over the V-115. However,
compared to other radios, the reception of these radios is only fair. In many
cases, where the Tivdio could get nothing, another radio could get a very
Specific reception notes - V-111:
On AM, only10 kHz increments, there is no tuning off center
to avoid an adjacent strong signal. Overall volume is good considering the size
of the speaker and radio. FM selectivity was less than observed on other DSP
radios, but still better than conventional analog IF systems. While this radio
tunes LW, don’t expect to hear much (or anything). AM audio is good on headphones, FM is a little bass heavy.
Internal noise limits ultimate AM sensitivity. Fm sensitivity varies with how
the radio is held. Output is muted while tuning. At large volumes, the
backlight flickers with the audio.
Specific reception notes - V-115:
On AM, frequencies can be entered with 1 kHz resolution but
the single kHz digit is ignored. Tuning to 1409 is the same as tuning to 1400.
Tuning to 1399 is the same as tuning to 1390. So again, no tuning off slightly
to avoid an adjacent station. AM internal noise limits AM sensitivity; this is
significant. Overall volume is as good as can be expected for a small speaker
and radio. The display is quite easy to read. The recording quality is poor,
even at the better setting. (editor note : Poor when listening on the radio with headphones - too shrill, good on it's internal speaker or
when playing back on a computer. Actually the record quality is quite good. See N9EWO review at the bottom on this page). Pressing up/down on the volume brings up a
level bar to observe the setting (cool), however when done you have to wait for
the bar to go away before some of the other buttons will do anything (not
cool). Audio quality through the speaker is quite good due to the metal-looking
diaphragm and rubber-looking surround. However part of this may be due to some
equalization which muddies the headphone quality .
Pros and cons, a summary :
sensitivity for a small radio.
Uses easy to
replace AA batteries.
Power switch on
the side means the radio is unlikely to turn on when packed in luggage.
Lack of direct
varies greatly with how the radio is held. Holding it with two fingers on the
lower right yields different results than holding it on the lower left.
Much better than
expected audio quality from the built in speaker
Direct keyboard entry
battery means no need to continually buy batteries.
internal noise limits useful sensitivity on all bands.
quality. (editor note : See the N9EWO review at the bottom of this page.)
through a number of recorded tracks is difficult.
Slow response to
What I would use these radios for :
V-111: This would be a radio to take
traveling where I’d
want something that would not have dead batteries at my destination.
other radios, the keypad is still live, even when off, and this means
display lights up when a button is pressed. When packed as luggage this
quickly result in a dead battery unless the batteries are removed from
the radio.) Of the radios discussed here, the best radio
headphone for use with headphones.
V-115: This would be good for taking someplace where I’d
listen through the speaker to local stations. I’d also be able to play recorded
A Different Tale : Kaito KA29 (Manufactured by Degen as the DE29)
When looking on eBay for radios I also noticed the Kaito
KA29. This is similar to the V-115 in that it has the ability to record. There
are noticeable differences.
- Kaito KA29 is much more expensive.
- When the backlight is off the Kaito display is much harder to read.
- Kaito is slightly larger.
- Uses the same rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery as the Tivido sets (BL-5C).
- Adds a tuning knob.
- Lacks the tilt stand feature.
- May be slightly less sensitive compare to the V-111, but they are close.
- Kaito adds a second USB port and can play files from that port.
- Recording quality on the Kaito is much better. Recordings match the radio quality of the source.
On headphones, the FM sounds good, but a little heavy on the bass. On
AM, audio is very band limited. I would not use this radio with
- Kaito has the same issue where the volume bar has to go away before other buttons become functional.
- Through the speaker, the Kaito gets much louder.
- Circuit Noise with the Kaito also limits useful AM sensitivity.
- The V-115 has the better volume buttons.
- I think the green backlight on the Kaito is better. Much more uniform.
When using the tuning knob, the frequency doesn’t change
until you stop turning the knob. This makes scanning for a new station more
difficult. When quickly changing to a
known frequency, this behavior can be useful as it avoids spurious noises.
If you inadvertently change the language setting, you’ll
need the supplied manual. Even then, it can be a challenge to correct.
If I were going to do recordings, I would use the Kaito. If
I were to be listening for a long time with headphones, I’d use the V-111.
Comparing the V-115 and the KA29, if the recording quality
is important, or being able to receive weaker stations, go with the Kaito. If
audio through the speaker is more important and you are only listening to local
stations, the V-115 is the better choice.
One more radio…The Degen DE1103 (DSP Version)
The Degen DE1103 (DSP Version) was also used while evaluating these
radios. It is a much more expensive radio and should not be considered in the
same class as the above. It offers true 1 kHz tuning on AM and also finer
tuning on FM. It is more sensitive than
It suffers from AM bleed through on some SW stations. It is
way too loud on the headphones resulting in only two volume settings that are
useful. Any lower setting is no output, any higher is too loud.
An annoying feature is that the radio has different behavior
while tuning vs.sitting on station. While tuning the radios acts like expected
audio is muted while turning the knob. When the knob is no longer being turned,
if the station is weak, the audio is significantly muted and background
processor noise gets louder. Even on a strong signal this can be annoying. This
behavior while tuning is not really consistent; sometimes the output seems more
muted while tuning. This also extends to major volume changes on weaker
stations as the strength goes above or falls below some threshold.
However, it is more usable on SW, which is not something
the above radios are really good for.
None of these radios would be
useful for serious listening. Their use is really for portable
applications where one would be concerned about the bulk of a larger,
better radio. If damaged or lost, they do not represent a major
Audio Bandwidth: The following table below indicates the "resulting" audio
bandwidth as tested observed on each radio. Actual testing at the headphone output and represents received signal as observed on a spectrum analyzer. FM IF bandwidth should be 150 kHz wide for conventional radios. For these DSP
based ones it’s something different.
The reduced 3.7 kHz AM bandwidth on the Kaito muffles the audio. On
AM the other radios are more pleasant. While the Degen appears to have more
high frequencies, the AM audio is very bass-heavy. On FM, the heavy bass is also seen on the Degen. The Kaito seems to be weak in the midrange.
This leaves the Tivdio radios with the better-balanced audio. Of course, all this is very subjective (your ears my vary).
Craig Menning N7TQM
*** INTERNAL PHOTO'S ***
V-111 Internal Photo's. Not much to see.
The DSP IC is just left of the Red and Black wires (right picture).
The AM antenna is
short. Uses "stick on" PC Board keys.
(N7TQM Photo's / N9EWO Photo Edit)
V-115 Internal Photo - PC Board Rear. This and the V-111 both use the AKC6951/6955 DSP Receiver IC.
The speaker is in a sealed compartment, plus a rubber covered "Micro-Woofer" port on the rear cabinet.
This clearly helped the audio quality through it's internal speaker. (N7TQM Photo's / N9EWO Photo Edit)
V-115 Internal Photo - PC Board Front.
Uses real individual "Tac" buttons. (N7TQM Photo's / N9EWO Photo Edit)
Kaito KA29 Internal Photo's.
Uses real individual "Tac" buttons again and at least has some shielding. (N7TQM Photo's / N9EWO Photo Edit)
: If you found this review to be enjoyable and useful, please consider
a small donation to help keep it here on the internet and updated. ANY
donation amount is very much appreciated. Please see the main page for more information. Thank You.
Dave N9EWO (edit)
N9EWO's findings on the "Low Cost " V-115 DSP Portable Receiver / MP3 player and "off air" recorder.
|N9EWO Review on TIVDIO V-115 |
It does NOT use the Silicon Labs Si473x receiver DSP receiver IC (here it's the AKC6951/6955 / M6955).
N9EWO's Review on the TIVDIO V-115. It is also sold as the Audiomax and Kaimeda SRW-710S.
Model : TIVDO V-115 Portable DSP Receiver and MP3 Player / Recorder
Country Of Manufacture : China
Firmware Version Tested : V1.2
Serial Number (approx.) of Test Sample : 1707T1152014xx (Manufactured in July 2017)
- Uses the DSP Receiver IC AKC6951 /6955 Instead of the Silicon Labs Si473x
- Direct Keyboard Entry For Frequency and MP3 Files
- 9 SW Band Presets
- All Buttons Have Very Good Tactile Response (uses separate Tac Switches unlike the cheaper V111 model)
- Large Easy to See LCD that is readable even without backlight In use
- SW and FM Sensitivity OK Average Even With It's Limited 15 inch Telescopic Antenna (which swivels and rotates)
- SW Selectivity Wide Enough For Decent Audio (Unlike Degen DSP Pocket Sets)
- AGC Much Improved Over Most Si473X Based Receivers (Except the tested Tecsun PL-380)
- Audio Quality (with Internal Speaker) Excellent For Size with It's
Powerful Additional Amplifier and Micro "Sub-Woofer" (see con)
- Audio Mute Function
- FM Stereo With Headphones (Records In FM Stereo As Well)
- Memory Chanel's Auto Sort in Frequency Order (Separate Memory Channels for MW / SW and FM) (see con)
- Electronic Volume Control Allows for Fine Very Low Adjustments for Decent Night Time Use
- Up To a 90 Minute Sleep Timer (Adjusted in Menu's)
- Scan and Seek Function that includes Auto Memory Store Feature
- Excellent Built In "Off-Air" MP3 Recorder With 3 Quality Levels
- Tilt Stand Attached on Carrying Strap (remember the Sony ICF-SW1)
- Lock Button (does not lock power button)
- MP3 Player That Works Properly With No Skipping or Other Gremlins (see con)
- Uses Common BL-5C Lithium Ion Battery (most new samples now at 1000 mah capacity)
- Includes a Short 3 Foot USB Micro Cable and BC-5L Battery (our test sample came with a 1000 mah capacity)
- Click "Locking Type" Micro SD card slot
- Extremely Low Cost
- Weak Signal Reception Hampered By Circuit Noise And Other Spurious Signals (All Bands Including FM)
- Reported To Have Bleed Over Issues In Area's With Extremely Powerful
FM Broadcast Stations (NOTE : We Did Not Experience At Our Testing Location)
- Limited Dynamic Range (SW Signal Overloading with Too Long Of Clipped On External Antenna)
- MW Sensitivity Only Fair (Has Short Loopstick Antenna, See Internal Picture Above)
- No Tuning Knob
- No SSB Mode
- No Frequency Slewing Tuning Once a Memory Channel is Entered
- No Signal Strength Indicator
- No External Antenna Jack
- Limited Short Wave Coverage. SW Starts at a Weird 4750 kHz and goes up to 21.850 kHz (no Gaps)
- Only Way to Store Memory Channels Are In Frequency Order (Auto Sorting)
- Headphone Jack Audio Output is "Shrill" and Hard On The Brain Afterwhile
- Battery "Charger" Indication Useless (see text)
- MP3 Player Has No Shuffle Mode
- No AA Battery use possible
- Uses the "Radio" Non-standard MICRO-USB Jack
- Microprocessor / Firmware "Bug-A-Boos" (see text)
- Odd 5v Charge Current Adapter Rating (500 to 1000 ma current rating ONLY)
- Whip Antenna at a Short 15 Inches and Is somewhat flimsy
- No Carrying Case or USB Charger Included
- Poor "Chinglish" Owners Manual That is Also Printed on Very Thin
paper (see links section at bottom of page for larger font version)
FM / SW Receive Performance Decent / MW only Fair / Uses AKC DSP Radio Receiver IC
and SW sensitivity is most usable (decent). Not any worse than any other pocket
set. With the improved AGC when compared to the Degen DE1126 or DE1128H
its a royal treat (not that it perfect here either, but much less
cutting in and out). However the whip antenna is only at a short 15
inches long. Connecting a short wire to the whip antenna can help
greatly to improve reception. However as it usually goes with sets like
this, one needs to keep the wire governed as it will launch into
overload if too long and especially at night (mishmash of audio like being in busy court
room). But most owners will want to have some insulated thin wire
with a gator clip to attach to the telescopic whip handy.
The V-115 uses the AKC DSP Radio Receiver IC (not the Si473x as seen in
most Degen DSP receivers like this). The ONLY near pocket set where the
Si473x has been properly interfaced in our testing over the years has
been with the Tecsun PL-380 (my review can be found here).
MW band is OK for local and powerful regional stations, but here is
where the Tecsun PL-380 kicked it's behind !! It has a very short loopstick
antenna (see internal photo's above) and it shows.
The minor downside to the V-115's weak signal sensitivity is it's noise
floor is awash with Microprocessor and other spurious noises. Not that
this is going to effect receiving the strong signals it was designed
for too much (it doesn't). Plain and simple this low cost marvel is not
meant for DX'ing weak stations. If one places a hand or finger near the
LCD, this noise increases.
LCD is large considering it's 4.7
x 3.1 x 0.9 inch cabinet size. It also has a light background so it can
be seen fairly easy without it's backlight on (as far as you have some
halfway decent ambient light available). With many LCD's these days you
just can't do this.
Frequency Coverage / FM Is In Stereo
Coverage starts at 4750 kHz and goes up to 21.850 kHz (no Gaps). FM
Broadcast is from 87.0 to 108.0 MHz . Medium Wave Broadcast is from 520
to 1710 kHz. There are 9 Short Wave band pre-sets that start at the low
end of those bands and is most welcomed to start the scan function.
Tuning / Memories / Scanning
Direct frequency keyboard entry is provided. It's super easy too
as one just taps in the frequency with no other buttons before required
and hit PLAY (enter). Tuning steps on SW are 5 kHz, sorry you are not
able to even cheat using the keypad to achieve say 1 kHz steps. It will
just round it off to the nearest 5 kHz frequency. MW step can be set at
9 or 10 kHz in the menu's. FM broadcast is in the usual 100 kHz steps.
Alas the keypad is in a 2 row layout, but one gets the used to this in
Are 100 memory channels available (however this is a bit of mystery, we did not test this) ? Each band (FM / SW and MW) has
it's own bank of memories.
The V-115 has a Auto Store feature for memory channels. It is activated
by pressing and HOLDING the MP3 PLAY button. WARNING (BE CAREFUL) : It will rewrite
all previous memory channels. Unlike the Tecsun's ETM function using a
special bank of memory channels, there is no such feature on the V-115.
All memory channels stored are sorted in frequency order like it our
not. There is no way to get around this. This can be an advantage or a
drawback depending how you like it. There is no way to tune a memory
channel either. You can start a band scan from that memory channel
There is actually frequency (up-down button tuning) "slewing" , but only
until you enter a memory channel. Then those buttons turn into a memory
channel up-down only. No encoder knob tuning is provided. Also missing
is SSB mode and a external antenna jack (but at this price point that can be expected).
IMPORTANT !! : Battery "Charging" Indicator Inaccurate (Useless) / Very Strange Charger Requirements
The 4 step (actually it's 5, the fifth one being a "flashing" empty
one) battery "consumption" metering seem to be fairly
accurate and useful to see how much juice is left in the BL-5C battery.
It does automatically shut off the device "after the last flashing
indication" to protect the battery from over discharge.
However the same cannot be said for when recharging. In fact on our
test sample it's 4 bar charging indicator was downright useless !! With
battery it was showing fully charged battery in only around 2 minutes
(using a USB port on a computer) which of course is "dead" wrong and
will fool you to think that it's
done (which it is NOT). So for the reason of all of the reviews around
with owners that "think" they have bad batteries. Here it's
just not being left in charge mode long enough with the improperly
IMPORTANT NOTE :
The cure here is just to be sure and leave in the charge mode for
around say 6~8 hours to be sure
the battery receives a "full capacity" charge with the supplied 1000mah
BL-5C capacity battery (we tested at 8.5 hours). Be sure the radio is
OFF when charging !! Extensive testing was done here to be 100% sure
proper charging took place internally within the V-115 by using the Degen DE1126 radio as a reference. Again do NOT count on the charging status indicator to tell you when it's fully charged !!
Now a step back on what to use to charge it with ? No battery charger is included. It
also uses the less "radio" standard "micro-USB" type jack (includes a very short 2.2
foot USB cable). The manual indicates to use a 5 V USB charger rated
between 500 to 1000 ma (1A) of current. Of course any USB 2.0 socket
on a computer can do that (it's of course under 1 Amp rating). A
standalone USB charger is much harder to come by in this current
rating, so most owners will just be charging using the computer USB 2.0 port as we did (NOTE : DO NOT PLUG INTO A 3.0 USB PORT AS THEY PROVIDE MORE CURRENT). We
feel this suggested current rating needs to be respected with the
simple battery charge circuit in the V-115 (see internal pictures
above). This is also warned about in the manual ! Using say a 2 Amp rating USB charger could very well damage the
battery and or radio ?? Better safe then sorry as they say.
Excellent Built In MP3 "Off Air" Recorder
I will NOT be held responsible for any info that is listed here
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !
As it is with some Degen manufactured models over the years (the
DE1121, DE1126 and DE1128 to name 3 as we have tested) the V-115 has a
nifty built in "off air" recorder. It of course writes the file to the
micro SD card which is NOT included. Unlike the Degen DE1126/1127 and DE1128H models that
record in a strange WAV format , the V-115 records in true MP3. It has
3 quality selections to boot. If you use the best "Super Record"
setting, it's most decent and no artifacts were noticed (except on very weak signals) , nor were any
dropouts or other gremlins. Pause function is also available. The
lesser 2 settings are usable, but why bother. As this report was
complied , we have not tested with any 1 hour + length recordings as
one file. There is built in microphone for voice recordings (and works
well) and a "Line In" jack to record external audio from another source
(not tested). Be sure and read the "Buggy Firmware" note next with important information with the record feature.
NOTE : We used a 16 GB micro SD card in testing. No card is included with the device. Unknown how large
of card will work in the V-115 (32 GB ?). The Micro SD Card Slot used
is of the desirable "click" in type. Recorded files appear in the radio generated "FMRECORD" directory. Yes, a TF card and micro SD card are one in the same.
The MP3 player has the typical EQ settings, but sadly it has no shuffle mode.
One can access the file structure for direct access to a file by
holding down the PLAY button when in MP3 player mode. The direct entry
keypad can also be used to enter the file (track) number.
User Tip : When
you are finished listening to the MP3 player, always a good idea and hit
the Play / Pause button BEFORE you turn it off or switch to radio
operation. This way it will be sure and continue at that point when you return to MP3 play operation,
otherwise it will "sometimes"start back at file number 001 (this is indifferent).
Sorry there is no alarm, timer or clock function on the V-115. What do you expect for a $ 25. all in one device like the V-115 ?
(as marked on a file)
| Sample Rate
(as shown on external PC program)
| Simple Record
The V-115 gives for decent MP3 Record Quality
in "Super Record" setting (128 kbps 44100 Sample Rate). (N9EWO Chart)
Buggy Firmware / Is there a Microprocessor Reset ?
to the record feature, in testing we discovered it was required to
toggle ALL "Record Set" settings (use the recorder a few times in each
setting) in order to get the quality setting to jive with the actual
kbps. For example : Simple Record was 128 kbps. Once the "toggle use"
of all 3 settings was done it was OK after, so the “Super Record” was
finally at 128 kbps as marked. It stays stable that way after until the
battery is removed (and that procedure needs to be repeated again).
Guessing this is a firmware bug ??
Other "firmware" bugs experienced in testing included :
- Very intermittently we experienced erroneous Memory data (these
normally disappear with a loop around).
- Also when it’s having this fit,
we were also unable to see memory Channels over 09.
- Sometimes it would not accept ANY manual memory channel entries (after some fiddling it would suddenly work again).
So a few disconcerting "bug-a-boos" do lurk (was the test sample
semi-defective ?). Good news is it never totally locked up in testing.
We are unaware of any microprocessor reset procedure with the receiver
as this report was being compiled.
Audio Quality and Painful Headphone / EarBud Use
Audio quality from the V-115's internal speaker is just outstanding for
it's size. Not only does it have a beefy 4 ohm / 3 watt speaker and
separate loud audio amplifier IC just for the speaker output, it also
has a rear mounted micro "sub-woofer" which greatly increases bass
However what emits from the headphone output (jack) is
another story. Here it uses the raw audio output right from the AKC
chip. It's very "shrill" sounding
and was painful to listen to for any length of time with most phones /
earbuds with the test sample. It also cannot produce any bass response
with headphones (breaks up with a file that contains any real bass in
it.). With MP3 listening we were able to
somewhat offset the shrill sound with it's EQ settings (try "classic"),
but is still no great
shakes even after that.
To top that off there have been an excessive
amount of reports where an owner only has audio in one ear (see the
green block below for details, Craig Menning discovered the reason why
on this as also covered in his report above). So lets face it, listening
via a pair
of phones is extremely disappointing with the V-115.
WARNING : One
more comment with headphone listening, be sure and turn DOWN the volume BEFORE you return back to speaker listening. Otherwise
It will be excessively LOUD if you do not !!
Our Conclusion : Decent "Low Cost" Pocket Set !! (but Buyer Beware)
what it is, the lightweight 7.2 ounce near pocket TIVDIO V-115 receiver
is a sheer bargain and is just plain fun. Always excellent to see a SW
receiver that include a built in "off air" recorder for capturing
signals for the archive. However don't expect to
receive a $ 100. receiver for $ 25. either. But the receiver
performance is improved over the Degen Si473x "Off Air" record
we have tested over the years. SW and AGC are more usable
as where with the Degen pocket sets it was a total disaster on Short
not that it's perfect here either). The Tecsun PL-380 is
still the better performer, however it does not have a built in "Off
Air" MP3 recorder / player either. One needs to keep in mind the poor
headphone audio, modest self-generated circuit noise and disconcerting firmware bugs that do lurk
with the V-115.
We need to stress again with the test sample the battery charger
indicator did not work properly (again please see review text above as
this is extremely important for proper operation).
: If you found this review to be enjoyable and useful, please consider
a small donation to help keep it here on the internet and updated. ANY
donation amount is very much appreciated. Please see the main page for more information. Thank You.
Links and other Information (all subject to change without notice) :
Translated web page on the V-115 that shows internal pictures
AKC6951/AKC6955 - M6951/M6955 DSP IC (as used in the TIVDIO V-111 and V-115)
TIVDIO V-115 Owners Manual (2 page PDF)
TIVDIO V-115 Owners Manual (4 page "Large Font" PDF)
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