Lenovo ThinkPad T60 Battery Life, 3.5 or 9 hours?

I currently have a MacBook Pro, and besides technically being a great laptop, the battery life (in my opinion) is really bad, around 2.5hrs. I talk to other mobile friends and aparently this is the norm. Norm or not, I don’t consider a computer “mobile” until I can take it somewhere and use it for atleast 4 hours, preferably 5, and anything over 5 just makes my eyes sparkle with happiness.

Alot of comments I’ve gotten recently are “So what, just take your charger with you”, well if I always need to be within 2′ of an electrical outlet, it’s not really a mobile solution anymore, so this doesn’t cut it.

The laptop I’ve been looking at replacing my MacBook Pro is the ThinkPad T60 with the 9-cell battery. I’ve been all over the web trying to find information about the battery life on it and here is what I have so far (times are linked to the reviews the info came from, rating in parens rating the battery life is my own qualification):

  1. 3hrs 42minutes (6/10)
  2. 5hrs 16mins (7/10)
  3. 5hrs 50mins (8/10)
  4. 7hrs 30mins (Jesus/10)

Can someone help me out here? The last test uses the Intel integrated crap-graphics and show 3D scores of like 5fps in 2-year old games, but almost 8 hours of battery life? In their “most typical web browsing tests with ‘Max Battery Life’ setting” the laptop eeked out just under 9 hours! That is absolutely incredible. Let’s look at the differences:

  • Reviews #1, #2, #3 use the 2.0Ghz Core Duo chip
  • Reviews #1, #2, #3 use the ATI X1400 Graphics Chip
  • Reviews #1, #2, #3 use the 15″ 1400×1050 Screen

And the reason Review #4 got such insanely high scores seem to be:

  • Review #4 uses the integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
  • Review #4 uses the 1.83 Core Duo chip
  • Review #4 uses the 14.1″ 1400×1050 Screen

So cutting .17Ghz off the speed of your chip, 0.9 inches off the screen (keeping the same resolution) and using the integrated Intel graphics chip means you get in the ballpark of 2 more hours out of your laptop battery? Sign me up!

I would probably order the T60 setup like Review #4 right now if I didn’t have concerns for both the Core 2 Duo chips which aparently don’t use anymore power than the current series and are even faster and additionally the inability of the Intel graphics chipset to do any 3D at all; I would like the option atleast to run Vista on my laptop when it comes out, even though it probably won’t be laptop friendly until after the first 1 or 2 major service pack releases and OEMs have more than a year with it to port over all their utilities (unless that’s been happening in the background?).

Either way, the first review really made me want to pass on the entire idea, but the 3 other reviews really made me want to get the ThinkPad T60, but then #4 made me nervous again because those numbers are just rediculously high… atleast from what I’m experiencing with mobile computing in general.

If anyone had any input or comments on this I’d love to hear them. I’m sort of in the dark right now and done all the research I can, short of buying it. (Digg this)

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About Riyad Kalla

Software development, video games, writing, reading and anything shiny. I ultimately just want to provide a resource that helps people and if I can't do that, then at least make them laugh.

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56 Responses to “Lenovo ThinkPad T60 Battery Life, 3.5 or 9 hours?”

  1. x August 16, 2006 at 5:51 pm #

    i just got a new thinkpad T60, 14.1″ screen w/ the 9 cell battery, i get about 5 hours battery life

  2. Riyad Kalla August 16, 2006 at 5:56 pm #

    Compared to the “9 hrs” that review #4 claims with the similar machine, I have to be equally confused as I was before now as to what a *real* number for these ThinkPads are.

  3. Erik September 23, 2006 at 7:19 pm #

    The T60 comes in different configurations. The ones with the internal graphic card (GMA950) last about 2 hours more then those with the external graphic card (ATI X1300), both with a 6 cell battery. Other factors is processor size (power usage), Ram (more is better, less use of harddisc), battery size and screen brightness. Hope this helps.

  4. Riyad Kalla September 23, 2006 at 8:35 pm #

    Erik,
    You are exactly right. After doing quite a bit more research (before getting my T60) I found just what you said, getting the integrated graphics will extend battery life considerably and then of course the monitor is the 2nd biggest change (getting the super high rest 1600×1200 monitor in the T60p for example shortens battery life by up to almost 3 hours in bad cases).

    Unfortunately the integrated Intel graphics chip is so incredbily bad at performance that the highest resolution you can push the monitor at is 1024×768… which may not be bad for some folks. As a software developer it was a bit of a problem for me.

    I ended up getting a T60 w/ 9 cell and Ultrabay battery. With conservative power saving setting and monitor on the lowest settings I can get 8 hours, if I turn of brightness to about 3/4 (working in a well lit environment) and am programming (lots of CPU activity) I get about 5hours. Overall a decent spread considering I was comming from 2hrs 30mins from the MacBook Pro.

  5. LK October 9, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    Have IBM T60 issued by university. Battery life after 1 year – 20 minutes.

  6. RW November 10, 2007 at 3:27 pm #

    I have a T60 and after 14 months, battery life about 1 hr. Not worth getting out at airport while waiting on plane.

  7. Riyad Kalla November 10, 2007 at 3:36 pm #

    RW you should be able to order another battery from Lenovo without much hassle.

    I might suggest the 9 cell. I’ve had my T60 for a little over a year and can still get about 3hrs of battery life, it’s doing pretty well hanging in there.

  8. Pekka Ahonen December 31, 2007 at 7:42 am #

    I have had bad experiences of T60 batteries. I had to replace ultrabay battery about 2 months from purchase, and now the new is going broken too (50% capacity left after 4 months of replacement). The main battery has also gone bad, it can take 35Wh charge of its original 56Wh capacity.

  9. Riyad Kalla December 31, 2007 at 8:03 am #

    Pekka,
    I had exactly the same experience. The ultra-bay batteries, interestingly enough, are Sony batteries while the 9-cell are Fujitsu. The Ultra-bay are *trash*… I got a full replacement after 2 months, and after another 3 months it was already down below 1/2 charge capacity. They are completely pointless to get.

  10. Phil Bagwell January 5, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    I have been using my T60 for about a year and a half and the original 9-cell battery is still showing 78 watt-hours after the last fuel gauge reset. I still get close to 5 hours doing pretty extensive programming…although i do keep the display turned down as far as possible. the display setting makes a huge difference on run time. i design notebook and tablet computers and there are a few things you can do to get maximum life from your batteries. to get long life, never charge the batteries above about 96-97%. keeping them always charged to 100% will significantly shorten battery life and the last few % do not significantly affect run time. this is just a characteristic of li-ion cells. the ultra bay battery is a li-polymer cell. the li-poly cells have much shorter life spans than the li-ion cells, particularly if they are kept warm, which they would be buried under the tablet. for the same price you can buy another 9-cell battery and get much more bang for the buck.

  11. Riyad Kalla January 5, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    Phil, very interesting followup. I’ve been using my laptop as a desktop for the last few months out of convenience (always plugged in)… my guess is that my 9-cell is shot by now :(

  12. Sanj January 11, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    They do have a high capacity one that you can get for this model. The 9 cell one still has a 5200mAh rating, I belive on the OEM one. I got one at simplemicro.com for $65 (generic though) at this link:
    https://www.simplemicro.com//replacement-thinkpad-t60-battery_987.html
    It is 6600mAh, slightly bettery than the original ones capacity.

  13. Riyad Kalla January 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Sanj thanks for the link. How’d you get it for $65, I see it listed for $89 at that link?

  14. violet March 18, 2008 at 9:34 pm #

    http://www.laptopbatterymart.com/laptop-batteries/ibm-thinkpad-t60-series.htm
    I had bought the T60 battery at this website for one year, it’s very good

  15. t60 battery November 20, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    They do have a high capacity one that you can get for this model. The 9 cell one still has a 6600mAh rating, I got one at http://www.diggingshop.com for 80.49 at this link:
    http://www.diggingshop.com/laptop-battery/ibm-thinkpad-t60.htm

  16. Peter January 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    I’m vastly skeptical about any battery claims. I have an X60 which is a much lighter model than the T series. Admittedly I’m running linux so its possible that some of the energy saving features that would be active with windows aren’t.

    However, I get 2 hours of battery life on the double size 8 or 9 cell battery and 1 hour of battery life on the normal 4 cell. And this is with web surfing and a screen dimmed to the point of being hard on the eyes.

    The claims of 11 hours for the 9 cell… I say divide by 4. And if you’re doing anything intensive…

    • fred November 10, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      bit late but you are way off peter, you’ve been done in pretty bad by linux.

      the x60 easily does 5 hours+ on battery saving mode with 8 cells.
      you only beat it down to below 3 hours if you start doing cpu intensive things.

      if you are already dimming the lcd, you’ve been screwed by linux, it must be spewing hot air out the side right? that is ac mode, it doesn’t matter if the lcd is dimmed if the cpu is running full tilt!!
      :D

  17. ibm t60 battery January 2, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    usually, the single cell can run for 0.6 hour, so you can work out for your ibm thinkpad battery by the number of the cells

  18. Riyad Kalla January 4, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    Peter,

    I totally agree… I ended up getting a T60 with the 9-cell main battery and 3-cell ultrabay battery… what a load of junk that battery is.

    After 2 months I got IBM to replace the 3-cell because I was already getting “50% charge capacity” warnings, and after 3 more months on the replacement, got the warnings again — no surprise, it’s a Sony battery.

    If I have everything charged up to max and use the computer for web browsing, email and just doc stuff I’ll probably get 3hrs, if I do software development or wtach a movie… forget it.

  19. djconnel January 26, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    From Phil’s message, I conclude one should never run the computer plugged in with the battery charged? My original T60 battery is down to 10 minute capacity after less than 8 months of use, most of it plugged in with the battery at full capacity. That’s just wrong. I’ve heard warnings against the effect of charge-discharge cycles on Li-ion batteries due to restructuring which occurs during each cycle: a charge-discharge cycle fails to return the battery to the original state. This implies a full discharge + full charge may be a bad thing, but keeping it fully charged shouldn’t cause any problems. On the other hand, I have used it unplugged for on order an hour, then fully recharged it, many times (train commute, when I can’t get a seat with a plug).

    I’ll check with customer support….

  20. np-20 February 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    T60 Battery now is out of production

  21. djconnel February 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    My Sony T-60 battery is dated October 2006, and is now down below my critical 45 minute life threshold for me to work during my Caltrain commute without a wall-plug connection. What do folks recommend for a replacement? I’m worried about anonymous ebay deals or Fry’s Electronics specials because batteries are so perishable.

  22. Riyad Kalla February 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    djconnel,

    Good question — we get a lot of spam posts here for battery stores (I think np-20s is just that) — but my limited experience with eBay for antiquated ThinkPad parts have been OK from high-rated sellers. I replaced the T61 keyboard recently and got a brand new one off eBay from a dealer selling OEM parts… I’d probably just go back there for a T60 battery.

    I know there are other replacements out there that fit… have you tried googling? Anything at NewEgg?

  23. djconnel February 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    It’s easy to find replacements…. I’m just afraid of stuff which wouldn’t pass Lenovo quality control which will be toast in 3 months. For example, it was reported here the Sony batteries are “trash” — certainly consistent with my experience. The value in a battery is proportional to how many charge-discharge cycles you get out of it before it degrades to a critical threshold, so it’s hard to compare on price alone.

  24. hiro March 1, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    hi im from brazil and my battery dont get more thant 33% of capacity
    did you buy thinkpad parts including battery on ebay?
    []‘s

  25. Riyad Kalla March 1, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Hiro,

    I haven’t bought a battery on eBay before — just the replacement OEM keyboard (had too much cat hair in my last one).

    I can’t imagine that ThinkPad has changed the 9-cells so much that you couldn’t just buy a new one from them — I’d probably opt for that then getting lucky on eBay.

  26. djconnel March 1, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    For cat hair, I just pried off the keys, removed the hair, then pushed the keys back on.

    But the cat is surprisingly talented at rebooting my machine, taking screen grabs, etc…. So I try to keep the screen down :).

  27. Riyad Kalla March 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Haha, luckily I don’t have that problem yet :)

  28. John March 18, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    Accordingly standby time of most laptop batteries is 3–7hours. It is decided by the number of the cells and output voltage. Just like this thinkpad z69 battery, you can take a look at it:
    http://www.laptop-battery-charger.net/batteries/ibm/thinkpad-z60t-2511.htm

  29. Riyad Kalla April 16, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    For anyone interested in official ThinkPad batteries from Lenovo, saw this on Dealsea today:

    ==============
    Thinkpad Notebook Batteries from $32, Apr 16

    Lenovo has Thinkpad Notebook Batteries with Scratch and Dent from $32 with free shipping.
    ==============

    seems pretty damn reasonable to me.

  30. lenovobattery August 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

    The same Lenovo battery have different cells,the batteries can be choosen for many people who have different needs.

    http://www.lenovo-batteries.com/cheap-lenovo-thinkpad-t60-laptop-battery.html

  31. alan September 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    My MacBook Pro lasts as long as 9 hours per charge. If I do a lot of downloading & use the DVD player, etc., then it doesn’t last as long, but it doesn’t last less than 5 or 6 hours, minimally. I’m quite pleased with it & wonder what the average times are for the Thinkpad?

  32. djconnel September 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    Around 2 hours is good for a T60.

  33. Riyad Kalla September 22, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Alan,

    I just picked up a new MacBook Pro and the battery life is really impressive.

  34. ehird September 24, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    I’m looking into purchasing a T60p (note the p) with a 15″ FlexView (1600×1200 IPS) screen. What’s the highest-capacity battery available (I’ve heard of a T4x with a 12-cell) and what’s the best manufacturer for long life and charge? Also, is there only one UltraBay battery type or are there multiple? I’d like to get 6-7 hours total out of this, and basically want simply the best batteries available.

    I’d also like to know how heavier/lighter the UltraBay battery is compared to the optical drive.

    • Riyad Kalla September 27, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

      ehird,

      I don’t know much about the after-market batteries, but the biggest ones Lenovo are offering at the 9-cell main battery and then the 3-cell ultrabay battery. In my limited experience, the 9-cell main battery was made by Fujitsu and was fantastic, the ultra-bay battery was made by Sony and after 3 months it was already down to 65% charge capacity, so I had Lenovo replace it with a new one, in 4 months that one was down to 70% charge capacity… they are junk.

      The good news is that was about 3 years ago, so hopefully they’ve moved to different manufacturing techniques now.

      With full charge though, all 12-cells of battery on “Battery” mode with a relatively dim screen I don’t think you’ll have any problem getting 5/6hrs in Windows. If you are putting Linux on it, that’s a different story — the power saving features even in the latest Kernel and latest GNOME/Ubuntu desktop are about 70% of what a tweaked out Lenovo Windows install will give you. Atleast in my experience.

  35. ehird September 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Oh, and an important detail: I will be replacing the disk with a solid-state drive, which uses about 5% of the (admittedly quite small) power usage of a hard disk. Still, that + disabling the CD drive and instead having the UltraBay should at least get me 5 hours, I think.

  36. ehird September 24, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Huh… 5% of the performance of a desktop drive, but it seems SSDs at least last year actually decreased battery life: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-hdd-battery,1955.html.

    However, the new 32nm drives from Intel, using denser silicon, should use less power.

  37. ehird September 25, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    …sorry, not 5% of the performance… not sure how I made that typo.

  38. ehird September 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Thanks for the information, Riyad. The Ultrabay battery might be bad, but since I’m getting the p model and the IPS screen, it’s probably worth it just to eke out that extra battery life. After all, that graphics card uses quite a bit of power and the higher-PPI, IPS screen too. (Was your 5/6 hours figure for a regular-screen non-p, or?)

    I will indeed be using mainly Linux, and I agree that the out-of-the-box power settings aren’t up to snuff, but I know my way around and know someone with a power-usage-tuned R500, so I can almost certainly match or beat the Windows life. GNOME’s default brightness changer just changes the colour of the pixels and not the backlight strength on T60s, I think, which is really stupid and might account for a good portion of that 30%.

    • Riyad Kalla October 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm #

      Yes exactly right, I had the non-P/regular screen and normal ATI 1400 accelerator, not the higher-end one in the p-laptops, I read it drew more power and I didn’t want that (no gaming needed).

      I imagine turning on the powersaving features for the ATI card probably helps minimize that difference in power consumption though.

      If you *do* get 5-6 hours on Linux on that machine, please come back here and tell me how… I spent about a week tweaking services, hdparm settings, CPU/core scaling settings, fan settings… just about everything and couldn’t crack 3hrs with Ubuntu 9.04. Spent quite a bit of time doing whatever thinkwiki.com told me :(

      Damn are you serious about the GNOME brightness manager? That could have been the problem the whole time, not a single tutorial I read said that, but it would make a lot of sense. Thanks for the input!

  39. ehird October 3, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Hmm… underclocking the graphics chip in the p when not needed should help (I might not even need the p; not sure), but up there you said that the IPS display could shorten battery life by three hours, which is yikes! On the other hand, IPS really does blow TN out of the water, and 1600×1200 is definitely nice.

    Yep, I’m serious about the brightness setting; ridiculous, isn’t it? Another thing to try is to tell HAL not to poll your CD drive; unless you have a newer CD drive that supports disc detection without polling, it’ll be asking it if it has a CD often. Boy, hardware and software sure aren’t made to get along…

    • Riyad Kalla October 5, 2009 at 7:43 am #

      ehird,

      Ok, get the IPS screen — I don’t really care how much battery it uses, but the TN screen (I guess that’s the one I have?) is so dim it’s unusable outside on a normal day… not even bright, and not even direct sunlight… just a typical day, maybe slightly overcast… sitting at a starbuck, it’s impossible to see the screen.

      I have a co-worker with the T60p that has the same screen and *hates* it.

      So get whatever screen this one isn’t :)

  40. ThinkHappy August 26, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    I’m a little late on this topic but I’ve had a T60p and I was getting about 4-5 hrs of life of course I had ATI FireGL graphics and also a core Duo 2.33. After about a year or so it went down to about 3 or less hours. I then began getting battery errors saying an irreparable damage had occurred to my battery and I should replace it. Well exactly a week after my 3 year warranty had run out my battery completely died and wouldn’t take a charge.

    Even within the 1 year warranty of my laptop the battery was not covered, though it was giving that error. Right now I am using it without a battery although it seems the batteries are cheap now on the bay and I’ll maybe purchase 2. The laptop is strong and runs like a champ aside from the paint on the top cover of the laptop showing slight signs of usage (slight scratches and fading) and the touchpad it looks brand new and still works great. This January it’ll be 4 years old.

    Also your batter life depends on what you do with the laptop. Ie on Win XP If I was just doing word processing I teneded to get higher battery life than when I was surfing the net via wi-fi or watching a DVD or playing a 3D game. The more CPU intensive the task the higher battery drainage.

  41. Yannick Warnier March 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Just to leave some additional feedback. I have a W500 Thinkpad with a huge screen resolution 1920×1200. I just bought a 9 cells battery extension because my current one (bought 24 months ago) only lasts about 20 minutes. The just-purchased 9 cells battery (bought $125) lasts about 1h50 minutes on a full charge. And to say I bought it because I had an 11h flight in a week…
    But indeed, there is a ATI Mobility Radeon 5300 in there, plus a big screen, plus a normal HD.

    • Riyad Kalla March 10, 2011 at 8:22 am #

      Yannick,

      I had my ThinkPad for 3 years and went through 3 batteries. 2 ultra bay and 1 9-cell. It is amazing to me how low quality the Lenovo-branded batteries are (provided by a bunch of different manuf) I was also constantly disappointed in the battery life.

      I got a unibody MacBook Pro a few years ago with the “10 hour” battery in it, and it lasts a solid 4-5. When it was brand new, maybe 6… it seems at anything other than the dimmest settings with no Flash or graphics going, that is the only way to get near the advertised battery life.

      Oddly enough, my iPad lasts a full damn 10 hours… then again it is a much simpler OS.

    • Yannick Warnier August 28, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      In reply to my own earlier comment, and following the suggestion of a friend, I disabled the additional graphics card (ATI Radeon) in my laptop and used the default (set through the BIOS). and, with my new 9-cell battery, the battery life shot to an incredible 4h, just like that, without loss of screen resolution and with barely a few slowed down videos when playing full-screen. In the coming days I will replace the hard drive by an SSD one and see what difference that makes, too (considering the “no mobile parts” aspect of the SSD, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be great (or, let’s say, get into the 5 or 6h battery)

  42. Matt August 16, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    When it comes to ultrabay batteries, you NEED to eject them manually during discharge. I had an R60 and its battery failed in a similar fashion (it wasn’t a personal machine, and the R60 is I believe based on the T60 since they use the same batteries)..

    What happens is that battery manufacturers stretch/lie about capacity by going the whole voltage spectrum. Lithium Ion batteries tend to do best from 3.7V to about 4.19V. With that one can get anywhere from 300-500 charge cycles. If say the Ultrabay battery is used until it is switched to the main it drops to about 3V. That alone gives it, at most, 200 cycles if not that.

    Other than that, cycle often (weekly) and I suppose when using it as a desktop to not use a battery at all due to heat. I’ve heard Sanyo and Sony are bad batteries and Panasonic is the way to go. My X31 still lasts around 4 hours on its original battery, but then again it is a Panasonic and its battery is under the keyboard.

    All I know about the iPad is that 90% of it is battery. Never used one.

  43. Dave October 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    I just bought a off lease think pad t60 with a 6 cell battery and I can achieve about 3hrs surfing the web. Considering the battery is used thats not that bad. Hell its much better than the Gateway laptop I had before that would last 30-45mins new.

    • Matt October 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

      If you have the Lenovo Power Manager it’ll tell you everything you need to know about the battery.

      • Dave October 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

        Yeah I guess I am; on a side note the battery was manufactured by Panasonic. I remember reading about the batteries made by Panasonic were of much greater quality, but then again this could be just speculation.

        • Matt October 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

          My 9 cell is Sanyo and my 6 cell is Panasonic on my T60. So far time will tell whether or not which one is better. Unlike my X31 the Panasonic I have tends to subtract max capacity if the battery remains fully charged (which is more realistic but will need calibrations in the future).

          On my X31 I have a 6 year old Panasonic with 375 cycles and 80% capacity (which equates to 4 out of 5 hours of light usage and 2 1/2 of heavy CPU usage). Although the battery’s microcomputer is bugged so I don’t know how reliable the cycle count is.

  44. Dave October 4, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Thanks for the tip Matt on the power manager it tells me the battery is in poor condition.
    Anyways happy blogging.

    -Dave

    • Matt October 4, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Considering it’s used, I’d recommend doing one calibration just to make sure it’s the true capacity.

      Power Manager, then battery, then Maintenance and then click Gauge Reset. Took around 10 hours on a used 9 cell but I increased its 59WHr capacity to 80WHrs.

  45. geoff February 22, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    mine lasts around 15 min.

  46. Steve October 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    I use Arch linux on my T60 and receive much better battery life than I ever did in Windows. With the 9 cell I get close to 7 hours.

    Power usage according to Powertop goes down to 9-11 watts when browsing the web (Flash blocked of course)

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