Archive for the ‘ Shopping for a blender ’ Category

New lower pricing on Blendtec refurbished Total Blender Classic Series!

Blendtec currently has some very attractive pricing on their refurbished models that took effect very recently.  You can now get a Factory Re-certified Blendtec Total Blender Classic Series for $279.95 and that includes a full warranty for 7 years!  (Note that you can get a $0.00 shipping option through the Blendtec link above, which provides free shipping.)  That’s substantially below the $300 mark, and is the cheapest quality blender with a 7 year blender option that I have ever seen.  There is nothing else at that price that competes with a Vitamix or Blendtec quality blender.

I do not know long this pricing will be good for, please let me know in the comments when the price goes back and I’ll update this post.

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Vitamix S30 Now Available

There is a new Vitamix blender available, the S30.  Vitamix currently has a nice promotional page up for the S30, but I’m not sure how long it will be up.

Nine days ago the S30 was over at William-Sonoma’s website, where it’s still showing as both “NEW” and “Exclusive“, but was not on Vitamix’s website at that time.  Today I received an e-mail from Vitamix introducing the new S30 and it is now available on their website.

So how does the new blender compare to the other Vitamix offerings?  Right now, in my mind, the main options for people in the market for a Vitamix are a refurbished 5200 for $329 or the newer 7500 for $529, available refurbished for $449.

From a cost and size perspective, the new S30 is the smallest and least expensive Vitamix available.  But my first impression is that it is not a product I would recommend for many people.  It does not have as large of a container or as much horsepower as two larger Vitamix models mentioned above.  My initial impression is that it is a niche product for people who have enough disposable income to buy something like this regardless of whether they literally only use it for smoothies or use it a few times and relegate it to the back of a cabinet somewhere.

I think that the vast majority of people who would consider purchasing this should very strongly consider a 5200 or 7500.  That is my personal opinion has someone who has spent years using a 5200 and 7500 regularly for dips, mixes, peanut butter, soups, green smoothies, frozen beverages, etc.

For a single person who wants to bring their super-blender with them when they travel, maybe the S30 makes sense, but until I hear, read or experience something that changes my mind, I would strongly suggest people looking at this seriously consider a 5200 or 7500 instead.

How to choose the right Vitamix model for you

It’s easy to look at the Vitamix website and wonder how you’re supposed to know what the Vitamix model differences are, let alone which model is best suited for your needs.  It’s actually substantially less confusing than it looks at first glance, and I’ve put this post together to help walk people through the main differences.

There are two main options, which I’ll describe as the older, tried and true model, and the newer, quieter and slightly more powerful model.

Older Models Vs. New Models

Vitamix started selling the Professional Series 300 in 2012 and has since released several other blenders models based on that motor base.  All of the other Vitamix models are a variation of the 5200 model.

So what are the differences between the two blender types?  I owned both a 5200 and a 7500 (a variant of the new motor base), and I wrote a post in 2012 listing the differences, but I’ll summarize the pros of both below:

Older Model:
Vitamix refers to these as Classic models
Less expensive

Narrower 64oz container handles smaller mixes better

Newer Model:
Vitamix refers to these as Next Generation models
Quieter (but still loud)

Simpler controls
Handle thicker and challenging mixes better
Fits under standard cabinets

I prefer the newer model, but as made clear in my first blog post comparing the two blenders, the new models are still loud.  My Blendtec is also very loud.  The press release for the Pro 300 claims the new model is 10 decibels quieter than it’s predecessor, but high end blenders are very loud, so know that the new models are quieter, but not quiet.

The newer models also use a variable dial from speeds 1-10 for all speeds, while the older models have a variable dial from 1-10, and then a switch that puts the blender in high gear, equivalent to what you get by simply dialing up to 10 on the newer models.

The newer model does have a shorter, wider jar, which has the negative side effect of not being as well suited to smaller mixes as the older models, but the upside is that the newer model handles large, thicker mixes, like peanut butter, better than the older model.  I have had the 5200 turn off automatically under strenuous mixes, while those same mixes have never given me a problem with the 7500 or Professional Series 300.

The newer model does fit under my cabinets, while the older model did not, but I never had a problem with my 5200 living on my kitchen counter due to it’s height.

Obviously the price depends on exactly what model you are looking at, but the older models tend to be less expensive.

Hopefully that’s enough for you to grasp your first important decision in choosing the right Vitamix for you.  I’ll now break down your choices for both Older (Classic) Models and Newer (Next Generation) Models:

Older Models:  Two-Speed, Standard and Standard Programs

Two Speed, Standard and Standard Program Blenders are the category names Vitamix uses when selling their factory refurbished models.  The names are very fitting, and describe what you’d likely expect.

Two Speed:  The Two Speed forgoes the variable dial completely, having simply a low and high speed.  Two speed models include the TurboBlend Two Speed and the CIA Creations.

Standard:  The Standard models have the variable speed dial as well as the high speed switch.  Standard models include the 5200, CIA Professional Series, Creations II, Creations GC, Professional Series 200, Total Nutrition Center and TurboBlend VS.

Standard Programs:  Identical to the Standard, except the speed dial includes three pre-programmed settings for smoothies, hot soups, and frozen desserts.  Models include the 6300 and Professional Series 500.

Newer Models:  Next Generation and Next Generation Programs

Next Generation and Next Generation Programs are the category names Vitamix uses for the newer models.

Next Generation:  The Next Generation is the standard newer model.  It has a variable speed dial similar to the older models, but the high speed switch has been replaced with a pulse switch, and turning the variable dial to 10 is all that is needed to use the blender on it’s highest speed.  Models include the 7500
, Professional Series 300 and Creations Elite.

Next Generation Programs:  While the Standard Programs models include only three pre-programmed settings, the Professional Series 750 includes five presets:  Smoothie, frozen dessert, soup, purée and wash cycle.  Currently, the only model sold with these programs is the Professional Series 750.

Unless you only need a Two Speed model, or really, really want a blender with preset cycles, you should probably be looking at one of the standard versions of the older or newer Vitamix blenders.  I also own a Blendtec Designer Series blender, which is better designed for presets, offering six different cycles, and a large, bright display that counts down how much time is left in the cycle it is using.  Even with the Blendtec, I am not a big fan of presets, and have found that only the soup setting works well consistently.  I definitely prefer my Vitamix to my Blendtec, and I would rather use the Vitamix with manual controls, using the tamper when it helps, than use pre-programmed settings.

I know which of the five choices I am interested in, now what?

Once you’ve identified which of the five options above is most suitable for you, you just need to identify which model you’d like to order.  Note that the difference between models in the same category are limited to things like the face plate and accompanying cookbook.  I had both a 7500 and Pro 300 for a brief period of time, and I wrote a blog post, with photos, showing the similarity and differences between the two blenders.  If you are concerned about what cookbook your blender comes with or whether your blender has a stainless steel faceplate, then you’ll need to look at all the models for that category to find the one that is the best match for you.  However, if you’re most interested in which blender offers the best bang for your buck, I have identified the best priced blender for each of the five categories.  The best priced option, which I list below for each of the five variations, includes Vitamix’s standard 7 year warranty, with the exception of the Two Speed, where all models offered have a five year warranty.

If you want to save a bit of money, Vitamix offers a refurbished version of each of the five options, which includes a five year warranty.  The warranty experience is phenomenal regardless of whether it is the five year or seven year.  I have had very good warranty experiences, and received the same stellar support with my refurbished Creations II, my first Vitamix, that I did with the 7500 I purchased new.

Two Speed:
TurboBlend Two Speed (New, comes with a 5-year warranty)
Two Speed (Reconditioned, comes with a 5-year warranty)

Standard: 
5200 Standard – Getting Started (New, rubber handle and Whole Foods cookbook, comes with a 7-year warranty)
TurboBlend VS (New, plastic handle, filtration bag, vegan and vegetarian cookbook, comes with a 7-year warranty)
Certified Reconditioned Standard (Reconditioned, comes with a 5-year warranty)

Standard Programs:  
Professional Series 500 (New, comes with a 7-year warranty)
Certified Reconditioned Standard Program Blenders

Next Generation: 
Vitamix 7500 (New, comes with a 7-year warranty)
Certified Reconditioned Next Generation (Reconditioned, comes with a 5-year warranty)

Next Generation Programs:
Professional Series 750Stand (New, comes with a 7-year warranty)
Certified Reconditioned Next Generation ProgramsStand (Reconditioned, comes with a 5-year warranty)

I have bought two of my three Vitamix blenders from Vitamix directly, and I definitely recommend purchasing from Vitamix directly if possible.  Whether you are interested in purchasing online or by phone (1-800-848-2649), Vitamix offers free shipping, which makes a reconditioned model from Vitamix.com
the most affordable way to buy a Vitamix, and usually means Vitamix.com is the best price on new models as well.

I’ve written in the past about why I would spend so much money on a Vitamix blender.  Hopefully, with those post, I’ve helped make sure that anyone else who is buying one can do so knowing they’re buying the right Vitamix blender for their needs.

Edit: Since writing this post, Vitamix has improved their website and naming to refer to the new models as Next Generation blenders and the older models as Classic model.  I’ve updated this post to reflect that nomenclature.  I’ve also written a helpful post on what blender containers are available for each blender.

Very Busy Blender Day (With both the Vitamix Pro 300 and the Blendtec Designer Series)

Yesterday will probably be the most blender usage my blenders see in a single day in 2014.  Less than two weeks ago, I received a Blendtec Designer Series blender, and while I took photos for a physical comparison of the new Blendtec and my Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.) I was really looking forward to actually seeing how they performed side-by-side.

We invited a family we are close friends with over for breakfast, and they stayed for lunch as well. They knew I was excited about trying out my new blender, and I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.

The first thing I made was Whipped Cream, which I made in the Blendtec because of the Twister Jar, which was very well suited for the task.  The Blendtec does this better than the Vitamix.

After that, I made the first green smoothies of the day, Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies, which I made in both blenders simultaneously.  The Vitamix edged out the Blendtec with better texture and less heating during blending.

After that, my friend chopped up a bunch of fresh, organic fruits he’d picked up.  His wife instructed him to pick up frozen organic fruits, and he couldn’t find frozen organic fruit, so he assumed fresh organic fruit would be fine.  A bunch of ice and fruit were added to the Vitamix with reasonably good results as a Frozen Fruit Smoothie, but then made a little too sweet when sweetened vanilla yogurt was added to the mix.  (Frozen fruit and unsweetened yogurt with less ice would have been fantastic.  It’s pretty much impossible to mix frozen fruit, plain yogurt and water/ice and not end up with a great drink.)

After the frozen fruit smoothie experiment, I decided to make my Homemade Frozen Mocha Drink for them, but my ice cube tray broke recently, so I had a giant frozen chunk of coffee, which gave both the Blendtec and the Vitamix difficulties, though the tamper and time were eventually enough to get the frozen coffee into the blades instead of bouncing on top of them.   I left out the stevia, which made it less sweet than normal, since getting back from Japan, I’m on a bit of a bitter is good kick, so I enjoyed it better that way, and my friends both seemed to enjoy the drink a lot.

For lunch, my wife threw together a tomato and cream sauce for some pasta that helped some of the baby kale we’d bought.  I decided to make some Powdered Parmesan, which I used the Vitamix for, as I know it excels there, while my experience with the Blendtec was not as good.

As a drink, I made a Mild Baby Kale Green Smoothie to go with lunch that was excellent, but as that was the green smoothie equivalent of throwing all your leftovers into a pot and finding out they make amazing soup, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate that drink, even though it was the best kale based green smoothie I have had to date.

As my friend was leaving he realized that he left a four pound bag of juicing oranges in our kitchen, and told us to put them to good use, as he bought them specifically to try blending them.  My wife and I did peel and blend them, but I can’t say that qualifies as good use.  After having made Fresh Oranges Applesauce, I now understand why freshly blended oranges are not a thing.

To wrap up the day, and to make a relatively easy dinner, I made Butternut Squash Soup for dinner, making reasonable sized batches in both blenders simultaneously, instead of cramming everything it the Pro 300 like I normally do.  To help heat the soup up, I did mix both batches in a Blendtec for one soup cycle, but as you can read in that post, the smell the blender gave off is making me think twice about trying that again.

So that’s it.  Not a bad Saturday of blending.  What do I think about the Blendtec?  I’m definitely still learning.  I don’t like when water comes out of the lid during a cleaning cycle, hits the LCD panel, and stops the cleaning cycle I was running it through, nor am I thrilled at the smell when running a very large patch of soup through a second soup cycle in a short period of time.  But those can be chalked up to user error or misuse.

I’ve written before about why I love Vitamix, and why I would spend so much money on a Vitamix blender, and I can’t say I’m there yet for the Blendtec, but I can already see a few things it does better, such as whipped cream or heating soup while blending.

For the budget minded, you can get a Factory Re-certified Blendtec Total Blender Classic Series for $20 less than a Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard, which is basically the 5200 model, and the warranty for the Blendtec is 7 years, while the warranty for the Vitamix is 5 years.  (Note that you can get a $0.00 shipping option through the Blendtec link above, and the Vitamix link includes provides free shipping, both of which are the cheapest ways to get a Blendtec or Vitamix with a 5+ year warranty.)  At that price, I can see the slightly cheaper, includes a longer warranty, fits better under a cabinet and includes programs arguments adding up to a compelling reason to consider the Blendtec option very strongly.

For me, it’s been years since I purchased my refurbished 5200, and I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I use my blender enough to justify buying the blender I want the most.  Which, as of today, is the 7500 model. (Also sold as the Professional Series 300 and Creations Elite)  That said, the Blendtec is still very new to me, and I plan to continue to use it again and again, in hopes of having a much better understanding of its strengths and weakness, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of my Vitamix.  I’ll probably post another evaluation of each in a few months as pricing, and my understanding of each blender, changes.

Anything I should know about the Blendtec Designer Series?  Anything you’d like me to blend?  Let me know in the comments!

Physical Comparison: Vitamix Professional Series 300 vs. Blendtec Designer Series

I was holding off on using the Blendtec Designer Series I just got because I wanted to take some good comparison photos of it before I used it.  This post is going to attempt to detail what I see as the major physical similarities and differences between the Vitamix Professional Series 300 (as seen in this post, basically the same as the Vitamix 7500) and the Blendtec Designer Series.  These were the kind of details I would have been very happy to see back when I was shopping for a blender, so I dusted off my DSLR and combined my nerdy interest in blenders with my nerdy interest in photography in hopes that this post will be helpful for some people out there who are looking at these blenders.  (As a camera nerd, I made a conscious decision to take all photos SOOC, no post processing of any type has been done.)

Front and Top Views

The Blendtec Designer Series does a very good job of looking small and sleek. It is smaller than the Vitamix Pro 300, but looks smaller than it actually is. I do like the Blendtec touch panel, but I’m also a huge fan of the simplicity of the Vitamix design and ease of use.

Another thing I really like about the Vitamix is the physical power switch that kills the LED light, minimizes electricity usage when not in use and ensures the Blender won’t be accidently turned on. The Blendtec power button glows fairly brightly as long as it’s plugged in.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

Back View

One benefit of the larger Vitamix base is that the power cord can be completely wound into the base of the blender or fully extended. The Blendtec has the benefit of a smaller profile, and the cord length should work for most home users, but I definitely appreciated the ability to have a lengthen or shorten the power cord with the Vitamix by winding the excess cable into a guide in the bottom of the blender body.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

Container Blades

One thing that surprised me is how different the blades are. The first physical difference that jumped out when I was looking at these blenders is that the socket connecting the container to the blender body on the Vitamix is much larger than the Blendtec, but I doubt that has a major impact in how either blender performs. The blades, however, are a different story.

The Vitamix family of containers uses a four pronged blade that reminds me of a four-pointed shuriken with two of the four blades pointed up. And blades is the right term, as they are sharp enough to cut.

The Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar blades vary slightly from each other, the WildSide being larger, but they both have a two blade design. Don’t let the word blade fool you into assuming that they are sharp. They taper on the side of the blade that impacts food, but they are nowhere near as sharp as the Vitamix blades, which I am sure is intentional.

I expect the very different blade designs to have pros and cons for each blender, but don’t yet have enough experience with the Blendtec to know what those are.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

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Containers

The Vitamix container includes measurements up to 64 oz (I’ve actually made double sized batches of hummus before, so it’s blended over 64 oz of hummus on more than one occassion).  The Blendtec book states that WildSide Jar has a volume of 90 fl oz, but for whatever reason only has measurements up to 36 fl oz.  The Blendtec Twister Jar has measurement lines up to 16 oz.  I’m almost certain the WildSide jar would be able to handle 48 oz of almost anything (if not everything) that I’d make in the Vitamix, so I took photos with 48 oz and 12 oz of water in each to show the various sizes.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Cookbooks

Both the Vitamix cookbooks are larger and thicker at first glance, so if you’re rating them based on how impressive they look on a bookshelf, the Vitamix books win that comparison. I’ve always been a fan of the Whole Foods book that came with the
5200 because of it’s ability to turn the cover into a stand and easily reference a recipe while using the blender.  The Professional Series 300 comes with a nice large hardcover book, but I’m more interested in the contents than anything else, so I’m looking forward to digging into the Fresh Blends book that comes with the Blendtec Designer Series, which apparently has more than 200 recipes.

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Blendtec Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Initial Conclusions

Both blenders are impressive beasts.  I’ve used my Vitamix Pro 300 so much that even my second blender container (I have two) is clouded, and the blender is what I’m used to.  The Blendtec is sleek and shiny, especially in these photos, as I waited until after I’d taken these photos to first use it.  Any talk about which is better based on small differences in size, cord length, the inclusion of an on/off switch or a cookbook seems like it would be meaningless for most people, as the real question is:  How do they each perform?

I’m thrilled with my Vitamix, but as I dig though my reasons in that old post, I realize I don’t know enough to know how it compares to the Blendtec yet.  In fact, I’m very hopeful that I’ll find that each blender has it’s strengths and that there will be things that the Blendtec does better.  Looking at the Fresh Blends book, it seems that the Blendtec may have more of a focus on dry grains than the Vitamix.  The Vitamix does have a dry grains container, but I’ve said before that I don’t do enough with dry grains to justify buying a separate container.  Maybe that’s a chicken and the egg issue, and the Blendtec could send me down that road.

Similarly, the Twister Jar is something I’m very much looking forward to using.  I’ve said before that one of the few disadvantages that the Vitamix 7500 and Pro 300 have compared to the 5200 is that the wider container base means that they are not as well suited for very small batches.  While Vitamix does offer a 32oz container, I personally didn’t think it was something I needed, so I’ve made due with the larger container.  I can certainly see the Twister Jar being very good for dips, sauces, baby food and other recipes that are made in very small batches.

I’d love to be able to give a definitive answer on which blender would be good for what kind of person, but I don’t know yet.  Tonight we had pasta, and I wanted to turn some parmesan into parmesan powder, a great use for the Vitamix that I’ve written about before.  I figured I’d try the Twister Jar, thinking that the twister lid might help me mix it more evenly.  The slice of Parmigiano-Reggiano that would easily hit the blades in the Vitamix was long enough that it became stuck in the container, sideways and above the blades, and then mixed unevenly before over-mixing into hot and soft clumps.  I later found a recipe in the Fresh Blends book specifically for mixing Parmesan Cheese, so I’m sure the Blendtec can create better powdered Parmesan in the hands of a more competent user than what I made today, but I clearly need learn some things from the Fresh Blends book and I probably need to learn some other things the hard way as well.

If you’re in the market for a blender, it’s worth pointing out that, similar to the Vitamix refurbished options I’ve written about, Blendtec has a Recertified Blender option.

Please do let me know any question or requests you might have. I’ll learn more about the pros and cons of each blender as this year goes on, and I’d love to share feedback that will helpful to others.

Happy Birthday to me!

So what do you get as a birthday present for someone who loves powerful blenders and has a blender blog?  Apparently you get them a Blendtec blender!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I received a box yesterday evening with a Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar!  Here’s what was in the box:

The boxes and contents of the Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar I received yesterday.

The boxes and contents of the Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar I received yesterday.

Now, I do already have a Vitamix 7500, and if it weren’t for this blog, I don’t know that I’d want a second blender, nor do I think anyone would have thought to give me another blender, but I was actually really excited to get this!  As I detailed in a blog post from 2011, Blendtec was the other option I was looking at way back when I bought my first Vitamix.

I’ve been in Japan for the last month, which is the reason for the lack of updates, and the whole family is still jet-lagged.  As soon as my sleeping cycle is back to normal, I will gladly start with a basic comparison of the 7500 and the Designer Series.

My Vitamix 7500 and Blendtec Designer Series side-by-side on my kitchen counter.

My Vitamix 7500 and Blendtec Designer Series side-by-side on my kitchen counter.

For now, I’m very happy to hear any requests people might have of things they’d like to see or hear about the Blendtec blender.  My next post will likely be a comparison of the obvious physical differences and similarities, but after that, I’d very much like to put the Blendtec through it’s paces, and try the two blenders on the same recipes to see where their strengths and weaknesses are!  If you have any requests, let me know in the comments!

Vitamix’s Black Friday special: $50 Off Any Container Purchase

Vitamix just sent out their Black Friday special this year. It’s $50 off any container purchase, which is definitely good for anyone looking for a smaller container or dry grains container to use along with their standard container. The other bit of news that was important in the e-mail was that it confirms that the promotional pricing I mentioned in my last post is only good through Saturday, November 30th.

The $50 off on the purchase of any Vitamix container is actually good all the way through Monday, December 2nd.

Here is the e-mail I received from Vitamix, for anyone interested:

Vitamix's Black Friday special: Take $50 Off Any Container Purchase

Vitamix’s Black Friday special: Take $50 Off Any Container Purchase

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