iTouch2 Vs Supercard DSONEi Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Opium, Jul 4, 2009.

Jul 4, 2009

iTouch2 Vs Supercard DSONEi Review by Opium at 11:08 AM (51,924 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. Opium
    OP

    Former Staff Opium PogoShell it to me ™

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    iTouch2 Vs Supercard DSONEi

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/itouch2-card.png) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/dsonei-card.png)

    aka: iTouch, DSONEi
    Homepages: iTouch2 Homepage & Supercard DSONEi Homepage

    Review written by Opium - 4th July 2009

    Many thanks to My Gaming Mart for providing the Supercard DSONEi review sample.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/mygamingmart.jpg)

    Review Contents & Index:
    Introduction


    The iTouch2 and Supercard DSONEi are two familiar entries into the now emerging DSi flashcard market. Each flashcard team appears to be working on releasing a DSi compatible version of their earlier cards to sate the demand from new DSi owners. Unfortunately no flashcard has taken advantage of the DSi exclusive features such as more CPU processing, RAM or the cameras as of yet. The Nintendo DSi has yet to be cracked, so for now any DSi compatible flashcard functions exactly like the original version.

    As GBAtemp.net already published extensive reviews of the original iTouchDS and Supercard DSONE. This review will instead focus on comparing the iTouch2 and the Supercard DSONEi to help you determine which card is more suitable for you.

    iTouch 2 official features list:
    • Plug and play feature for ease of use.
    • 100% game compatibility.
    • Automatically detects and generates game save file.
    • Built in cheat engine.
    • Fully customizable skin interface.
    • Supports both the Micro SDHC and MicroSD.
    • Supports homebrew applications.
    • Supports software reset function.
    • Supports Multi-Language.
    • Supports Download Play.
    • Single-chip solution, highest level of stability & lowest power consumption.
    • Supports Multi-Language: English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean and Thai.
    Supercard DSONEi official features list:
    • Plug’n Play – No extra software needed.
    • 100% game compatibility.
    • Uses MicroSD card, both FAT16 and FAT32 supported.
    • Supports the SDHC specification, allowing for high capacity memory cards.
    • Compatible with all speed flash memory cards.
    • Hardware save, multi-save support.
    • Save directly to MicroSD rather than onboard flash.
    • Support RESET, RealTime Cheat Code and RealTime Game Guide.
    • Micro firmware designed. Upgradable Operation System with powerful function and friendly GUI.
    • Support MP3, Movie, TXT and view PIC directly.
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    Packaging and Contents


    iTouch2

    The iTouch2 comes in two versions; the standard version and enhanced version. The difference being that the enhanced version features the Real Time Save feature that allows you to save and load your game at any point. This is shown by the small sticker on the top left corner of the box. It’s unknown why the standard version even exists and why this feature was removed from that version other than to make you pay slightly more.

    Inside the small, simple cardboard box you will find a plastic tray containing the iTouch2 and a small MicroSD reader. The reader is SDHC compatible so you will be able to use your high-capacity MicroSD cards with it. The Micro SD reader feels a lot sturdier and more well put together than readers included with other cards such as the DSTT. I haven’t had any problems with it at all.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3381s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3383s.jpg)


    Supercard DSONEi

    The DSONEi comes in a slightly fancier looking box. Inside the silver box is a plastic, velvety tray that holds the DSONEi card, the USB firmware writer and the MicroSD reader. This reader is also SDHC compatible and seems quite sturdy.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3394s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3398s.jpg)


    Box Contents
    iTouch2
    • 1x iTouch2
    • 1x Micro SD/SDHC USB card reader
    Supercard DSONEi
    • 1x Supercard DSONEi
    • 1x USB Firmware Writer
    • 1x Micro SD/SDHC USB card reader
    Cart & Linker Design


    The iTouch2 card design is much the same as the original iTouchDS or the M3 Real. It comes in a gray plastic shell with clips on the side to hold it together and no plastic dividers to protect to connectors at the bottom of the card (something an authentic DS game card has). The plastic seems a bit cheap and flimsy, however I’ve never had any problems with it or the original iTouchDS, which is made the same. The MicroSD slot on the top is spring loaded and I’ve had no problem removing the MicoSD card from the iTouch2 while it is still in the DSi and then replacing it. It saves the hassle of actually removing the iTouch2 everytime you want to update the contents of your card.

    The sticker on the front bulges slightly to hide the chip sticking up beneath. A lot of flashcards seem to have this bulging problem. However some cards do manage to keep themselves nice and flat, which is more aesthetically pleasing.

    The DSONEi by comparison seems to have a sturdier card design as the housing is glued and screwed together, rather than held together with thin plastic latches. The whole housing feels stronger however the card doesn’t feature any sort of protection for the card’s connectors just like the iTouch2, which is a shame. The Micro SD slot is spring loaded as well and works fine.

    The big difference between the two cards is that the DSONEi doesn’t have a chip bulging out underneath the surface of its sticker. There are holes in the plastic beneath the sticker for the components to fit into without plastic covering them, however it doesn’t actually stick up out of the card like the iTouch2 does.

    When comparing the two card’s aesthetic and build quality the DSONEi comes out on top slightly. It feels better built and looks great. If you have a white DS Lite or DSi it’ll blend in nicely but if you have a black DSi like myself the iTouch2 will look a lot less conspicuous. Still, the white DSONEi doesn’t look too bad.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3416s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3429s.jpg)

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    Setting Up & Using


    As with all slot-1 DS flashcards there is nothing difficult about setting up the iTouch2 or DSONEi. Both cards are a simple ‘drag & drop’ affair.

    Part One: Initial Connection & Firmware

    Download the latest loader/firmware files from the maker’s website and then drag them onto your MicroSD card and you’re ready to go.

    The iTouch2 loader consists of a ‘boot.eng’ file and a folder called ‘iTouch’. Drag them both into the root of your MicroSD card. While you’re at it, download the latest cheat.db file from the GBAtemp Cheat Database (which gives your games cheat codes) and override the original cheat.db file inside the ‘iTouch’ folder for an up to date cheat database.

    The DSONEi loader consists of ‘MSFORSC.nds’ and a folder called ‘scshell’, which are both placed in the root of your MicroSD. The DSONEi uses a different cheat engine to the iTouch2 however and each game in the database has its own individual cheat file. So far there are over 3000 cheat files packed into the DSONEi loader and because of that it takes several minutes to copy the files across to your MicroSD card compared to the few seconds it takes for the iTouch2 loader.

    Part Two: Copying Content Across

    It doesn’t matter with either card where you place your game or homebrew files. Both cards have a file browser that allows you to navigate folders you create on your MicroSD card.

    If you have a custom skin for the iTouch2 you can place the .BMP images files for it inside the ‘iTouch’ folder and override the original files. With the DSONEi the skin files simply go inside ‘scshell\skin\’, which already comes with a few skins pre-installed.

    Part Three: GUI

    Where the two cards are really set apart is the interface. They both have an assortment of pros and cons and usually where one card lacks the other triumphs.

    The iTouch2 has a modern touchscreen controlled interface. At the main menu there are three buttons ‘iCard’, ‘iFav’ and ‘iGame’, each with very nice menu animations.

    iCard is a simple file browser that you can use to see or launch any of the files on the card. You can also press X on any game file to create an icon of it for the iFav menu.

    The iFav menu is a screen that consists of all the favourite icons that you’ve created. It’s basically a wall of game icons that you can tap to launch the respective game. You can also use the D-Pad during all menu navigation on the iTouch2. When you move the cursor over a game icon you can press select and it will take you to the config screen where you can change options such as: cheats, real time save, soft reset, slow motion and save game slot.

    The iGame menu is practically the same as the iCard file browser except that you can only see .nds files, in other words only DS game and homebrew files will show up in the browser. It’s handy if you prefer to have a clean scrolling list of games rather than a wall of icons like in the iFav menu.

    The whole interface is rather sleek and nicely animated. There were some initial teething problems with the menu being tragically slow; however a recent firmware update has sped up the menu significantly. The menu still isn’t as fast to navigate as with a card like the DSTT but it is certainly usable. The interface will also remember the last folder or menu you were in when it started a game. So when you return to the menu or turn on the DSi system again you will go straight back to the last folder you were using. It’s an excellent feature, because for me it goes straight back to the iFav menu and I can just tap whatever icon I want on screen to quickly start my next game. It’s very quick and functional. There is also an included Global.nds file which will set the global options of the iTouch2 and allow you to change the language and also enable soft reset or real time save for every game on the card.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3380s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3386s.jpg)

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    On the other side of the coin the DSONEi has a more outdated GUI. The card uses a Moonshell based interface much like the EZ-Flash V and earlier cards. This is good for the multimedia aspects of the card but rather poor as far as performance and usability goes. Not only does the GUI look old, it feels old. The options menu for doing things such as changing skins and system settings is located on the top screen and can only be accessed by holding in the L button and navigating with the D-Pad. Sometimes it feels very clunky and leads to difficulties in selecting the right option. On a more modern card, options like this would be intuitively designed with the touchscreen in mind. The DSONEi compared to the iTouch2 doesn't feel like it takes advantage of the strengths of the DS. The interface should be designed ground up for the DS and make clever use of the touchscreen, much like the excellent M3 Sakura interface.

    To the DSONEi's credit it does have an .ini file that you can use to tinker with the settings of the interface. It is certainly a much more flexible and customisable card than the iTouch2. You can flip the top and bottom screens to increase the use of the touchscreen, however it never really clicks and still feels like a patch job rather than something designed specifically for the DS.

    The main drawback of the DSONEi's interface is its speed. Navigating through a list of games is painfully slow. A recent update did however speed things up considerably, but if the DSONEi is displaying games on anything but a simple list (ie: if it was displaying the game icons as well) it will still perform at a crawl. Before the update it was slow enough to warrant not even considering buying the DSONEi. With the new update it performs well with just the simple list mode, but still lags rather badly in the other two view modes that show the game icons. I recommend changing the view mode to the simple list view and not touching it again.

    The DSONEi's strength is in its flexibility and options. There are a host of ROM patching options which will help you to get those troublesome new release games working before a work around is released. You can also select save game size on the fly and change between multiple skins which is something you can't do on the iTouch2. For people who really know what they're doing the flexibility is refreshing compared to the iTouch2 in which you don't have much customisation available to you.

    The interface of the DSONEi works competently but never performs above the norm. I feel that it is time for a overhaul of the DSONEi's menu by either updating to the latest Moonshell version like the EZ-Flash V has been doing (and reap the speed benefits) or design a totally new touchscreen focused interface from the ground up.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3408s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3409s.jpg)

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3412s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3413s.jpg)

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3414s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3438s.jpg)

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    Performance


    Now, it is time to look at how the two cards really perform. The card design and interface of a flashcard could be exceptional, but if it fails to perform basic features or has too many quirks it wouldn't be a card worth buying.

    For my tests I tried a whole host games, both well known and also more obscure titles. Whilst it's impossible to test everything I've done what I can to ensure the testing was thorough.

    I've tested the cards with both Kingston and Sandisk MicroSD cards (including SDHC) and they have both performed exactly the same.

    ROM Compatibility

    Like all flashcards released nowdays both the iTouch2 and DSONEi boasts 100% ROM compatibility. Throughout the countless games I've tested that claim has held up. Every game I've tested has worked.

    The classic speed test of playing the intro movies of Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin went without fault. Both cards played the movies back without any lag or choppiness.

    The big question a lot of people new to the flashcard scene will want to know is whether DSi specific games and DSiWare will run on the cards. I can confirm that neither are able to be played. The current DSi compatible flashcards may work on the DSi but they run in DS mode and as such do not have access to the DSi specific features such as increased RAM, CPU and the cameras. The DSi specific mode has not been cracked and unlocked for flashcards. All DS games will run on the DSi as if you were playing them on a DS Lite. Of course the games will use the full DSi screen size however, because the resolution is exactly the same as the DS Lite.

    Once the DSi mode eventually gets cracked it is still impossible to tell whether these current DSi compatible cards like the iTouch2 and DSONEi will be able to make use of the DSi mode or whether a new hardware revision of the cards will be necessary. So for now make your purchase based solely on the fact that you will only be using regular DS mode on the flashcard.

    The time it takes to launch a game is roughly the same for both cards and only takes a few seconds. If you have Real Time Save enabled on a game it will take a few seconds more the first time you start the game as it creates the Real Time save file. Both cards perform almost identically.

    Multiplayer, Download Play and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support

    Multiplayer games provide no troubles for either flashcard. From the games I've tested multi-card play works without any problems.

    Both cards also feature a download play fix mode which once enabled allows even stubborn download play games to run fine. The download play option can be enabled under the ROM patch options of both cards. By default it is off to improve general game compatibility. Most download play games will work with it off anyway though.

    As expected there are no issues with playing DS games online over the Nintendo WiFi Connection with either card.

    Save Game support

    Here is where the DSONEi falls down. The DSONEi does not have support for long file names for save games. Which is something nearly every other flashcard has. For example on the iTouch2 a save game for Nintendogs.nds would be Nintendogs.sav, but on the DSONEi it would be something like NINTEN~1.SAV. This is a problem because if you're coming from using another flashcard all your save files over 8 characters long will not be recognised by the DSONEi because the save files will have a different file name to what the DSONEi wants.

    You can take a guess and rename all your save files so they will be recognised by the DSONEi but you really shouldn't have to do that. Not to mention you won’t be able to swap between two flashcards if you have a second card. This just shows how archaic the DSONEi is. It is so outdated it doesn't even support long file names. You will have to rename all your ROM files to have less than 8 characters in the title if you want the saves to be compatible on both the DSONEi and another flashcard. Frankly there is no excuse for the SuperCard to not have updated the firmware with long file name support by now.

    On the plus side though the DSONEi gives you the option of selecting what size save file you would like to use for individual games, which may help in getting troublesome new releases to work before a fix is available. By default it is on automatic and will automatically create a standard save file. The iTouch2 doesn't have any save size options and will just automatically create a 512kb save file.

    Both cards do however have the option to select multiple saves for a ROM and allow you to backup your save game to another slot. Which is always nice if you are sharing the flashcard with a sibling or partner.

    Additional Features


    Real Time Save

    The Supercard DSONE was the first DS flashcard to have a Real Time save feature, but since then most other flashcards have caught up. The iTouch2 now also features Real Time save and operates practically the same as the DSONEi.

    On both cards you can enable Real Time save in the ROM patch options. The first time you start a game with real time save it takes a few seconds to create a Real Time save file before the game launches (this is a one time only thing). Once in game you can call up the Real Time menu by pressing L+R+SELECT+UP on the DSONEi and L+R+SELECT on the iTouch2. A menu will pop up with options to either save or load the savestate of the game. Saving and loading only take a few seconds and is roughly the same long on both cards.

    The iTouch2 however has more options from its menu as it allows you to select return to menu which will soft reset out of the game and return you to the iTouch2 menu. The DSONEi also features soft reset but it is done with a different key combination and is not accessible from within the Real Time save menu. You press L+R+A+B+X+Y on the DSONEi to reset to the DSONEi menu. I feel the DSONEi performs soft reset better in this instance because you can not enable both Real Time save and Soft Reset key combinations on the iTouch2. It's either one or the other. if you want to soft reset you must enable that and use its coresponding key combination or if you want Real Time save you must enter the Real Time save menu and then select return to menu to soft reset out of the game. I'd like the choice to have both Real Time save and Soft Reset independently enabled on the iTouch2.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3455s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3458s.jpg)


    Multimedia Support

    The iTouch2 does not support multimedia files like images, mp3s or videos right off the bat. You will need to download the homebrew program called Moonshell to play those sorts of files. Once you have Moonshell though there are no issues and your mp3 and converted video files will work fine.

    The DSONEi's operating system is actually based on Moonshell though and will allow you to run your multimedia files natively from the menu. It's a nice feature if you intend to use your DS as a multimedia device. However you may still want to download the latest version of Moonshell and run your files from that like the iTouch2 would, as the version of Moonshell the DSONEi is based on is rather old and outdated.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3453s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3442s.jpg)


    Cheat Support

    There is a big difference between the cards when it comes to cheat support. The iTouch2 has a much more robust and modern cheat engine, which uses one compiled database file of cheats (supported by the GBAtemp Cheat Database). To update the cheats you simply override the cheat file with the latest version from GBAtemp. Whereas the DSONEi has an individual cheat file for every game. There are thousands of cheat files on the DSONEi, which is the reason why it takes so long to copy the loader files to the MicroSD card. The DSONEi’s use of this old cheat system really illustrates the card’s age.

    Both cheat systems work mind you, however the iTouch2’s system is far less hassle and is officially supported by the GBAtemp Cheat Database.

    Homebrew Support

    Here the two cards do actually differ. From my tests I've found the DSONEi performs better with homebrew than the iTouch2. Every homebrew game or application I've tried has worked perfectly on both cards with the exception of ScummVM DS. On the iTouch2 ScummVM DS games (old school Lucas Arts adventure games like Monkey Island and Indiana Jones) suffered from persistent sound stuttering making the games unplayable with the sound on. Indiana Jones Fate of Atlantis ran without a hitch on the Supercard DSONEi but consistently had jerky music on the iTouch2. A problem also confirmed by other iTouch2 and even Acekard 2i users on the official ScummVM DS forums (the problem is fixed with Acekard 2i uses who use AKIO though, leading me to believe it is the iTouch2's loader that breaks compatibility with ScummVM DS).

    I haven't noticed any other homebrew issues with the cards so if you don't use ScummVM DS this issue may be of no consequence to you. But if you do, it might be enough to lean you to buy the DSONEi unless the issue is fixed with the iTouch2.

    (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3443s.jpg) (IMG:http://opium.gbatemp.net/itouch2dsonei/DSCF3444s.jpg)

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    DSi Firmware Protection

    The big talking point of DSi compatible flashcards is whether or not a future DSi update from Nintendo will block them. If Nintendo do decide to release an update to stop DSi flashcards from working, what then? A number of DSi compatible flashcards such as the Acekard 2i and Supercard DSONEi allow you to update the bootstrap of the card itself and re-flash the firmware. So if an update is released by Nintendo that blocks them the flashcard makers can find a work around and then release an update the can be flashed to their cards. This is something that wasn’t necessary with older DS Phat and Lite flashcards because those systems didn’t have the potential of being updated by Nintendo.

    The DSONEi has this safety net, so that if Nintendo decide to block the card you will be able to reflash the card with the included USB Firmware Writer. So far the DSONEi is the only flashcard to come with a separate hardware writer to flash the card. No update has been needed so far but the writer works without any software of any kind. The writer only uses the USB port on your computer to draw power, nothing else. So you won’t be able to use the writer to dump your DS games or anything like that. The theory goes that if a firmware update for the DSONEi is released you place the file in the root of your MicroSD then plug the MicroSD card and DSONEi into the writer and then plug that into a USB port. The light will start the blink to show that it is writing the file to the card and then will stop blinking when it is safe to remove the card. Other cards like the Acekard 2i also write firmware files to the card but it does so while being run from the DS to power the card, no separate writer is needed. The included USB Firmware Writer included with the DSONEi seems like a well-built and quality product, but it’s a little skeptical why you would need a separate writer at all when other cards can flash the firmware while running in a DS anyway.

    Unfortunately the major drawback of the iTouch2 is that the firmware/bootstrap/or whatever you’d like to call it, cannot be updated at all. So if Nintendo decide to release a DSi update that blocks the card there will be nothing you can do at all to get it working again. Your purchase will essentially be worthless if you update your DSi. This is a major oversight. It makes no sense why the iTouch2 team would release a card that can’t be updated. The same company also makes the M3i Zero which can be updated so it’s not like they don’t have the technology or knowhow to include the feature.

    It is a big oversight and does hurt the appeal of the iTouch2, yet as of writing this review there are still a lot of ‘maybes’ and ‘what ifs’ being thrown around. Nintendo have not yet released an update that blocks DSi flashcards, nor have they made any comments about doing so. Also, the whole idea of having an updatable flashcard hangs on the premise that the flashcard makers will be able to find an exploit that will allow them to get their cards to work again. If they can’t find another exploit after the theoretical DSi firmware update then the included USB Firmware Writer for the DSONEi will be nothing more than a plastic paperweight. There are still a lot of maybes and assumptions at the moment so it’s too early to tell how things will swing. However, the idea that a flashcard can be updated and have protection from possible DSi updates is comforting.

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    Conclusion


    It is very difficult to sum up both cards and come to a firm recommendation. As shown in the pros and cons below, each card has a strength where the other has a weakness. It really depends on what you want out of a flashcard. The iTouch2 certainly has the better, speedier interface and is much easier to use. The iFav menu of the iTouch2 is extremely useful and makes it a breeze to switch between games if you’re the type of person who plays many different games at once. The DSONEi on the other hand has a slower, cruder menu but it has better homebrew support and can launch multimedia files natively. I do feel however that for all round general use the iTouch2 comes out on top. It is quick and easy to use and has a vastly superior cheat engine. Its only massive drawback is the painful oversight of it not being updateable against future DSi updates that may block it. For those of you seriously worried Nintendo may actually step up and block DSi compatible cards then the Supercard DSONEi may have to be the card for you by default. For some it may be a game breaker, for others they might not be too fussed.

    iTouch2

    Pros:
    + Easier to use
    + Superior cheat engine (and is supported by the GBAtemp Cheat Database)
    + More modern & sleeker GUI
    + Much quicker GUI
    + iFav menu is great and quick to use

    Cons:
    - Not updateable, a future DSi update may stop it from working

    Supercard DSONEi

    Pros:
    + Better build quality
    + Has an in-game game guide feature
    + Multimedia playback from within the interface
    + Superior homebrew support (ScummVM DS works correctly)
    + Inclusion of USB Firmware writer

    Cons:
    - GUI is outdated and annoyingly slow
    - Save files do not support long file names (meaning you will need to rename any save file over eight characters long to make it work)

    External Links:
    - iTouch2 Homepage
    - Supercard DSONEi Homepage
    - GBAtemp Download Centre
    - My Gaming Mart iTouch2
    - My Gaming Mart Supercard DSONEi



    This review was written for GBAtemp.net ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net
    If you see this review on any other site please let me know via e-mail - opiumunbound [@at@] gmail [.dot.] com
     

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