Laptops

Five reasons new MacBook Pros are business users' best laptop choice

Erik Eckel lists his reasons for recommending the Apple MacBook Pros as the best business laptops available.

Typically, I avoid the seemingly and emotional Ford v. Chevy battles common in IT. You know the ones: the best antivirus, the better browser, iPhone versus Droid and even Mac versus Windows. But occasionally I think so highly of a specific platform or technology that I find myself on a soapbox preaching its benefits. The new Apple MacBook Pros are just such a product.

How so? Here are the five leading reasons I believe Apple's new MacBook Pros are business users' best laptop choice:

1. High reliability

Based on my experience as an IT consultant, Apple MacBook Pros experience far fewer failures than other leading laptop brands. But don't take my word for it. CBS Moneywatch, PC World and others, including independent studies, all tout the quality and reliability of Apple laptops, as well as the company's remarkably high levels of customer satisfaction and support.

That's not to say MacBook Pros are foolproof. But business users can rest assured that, when selecting Apple's professional series of laptops, they're deploying powerful machines that rank near or at the top of reliability and customer satisfaction ratings. And, when encountering trouble, it's good to know Apple can be counted on to address issues quickly.

2. They're fast

Whether booting Mac OS X or Windows 7 Professional, Apple's MacBook Pros are fast machines. Even the base 13" models include 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPUs and 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM.

When crunch time calls for the ability to multitask, these systems can easily power multiple Windows or Mac OS X applications simultaneously. The new MacBook Pros even manage the most demanding of production tasks: video editing. Considering 15" and 17" models can be specified to include up to 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPUs and 8GB RAM, the MacBook Pros are capable of the most demanding of tasks.

3. First-rate graphics

Business laptops are frequently set up in coffee shops or connected to large displays to host presentations. The MacBook Pro's graphics are simply outstanding, especially when the upgraded graphics engines are combined with Apple's crystal-clear LED displays and support both VGA and DVI out (with corresponding optional adapters).

The base Intel HD Graphics 3000 CPU encodes and decodes video quickly and manages intensive graphics processing well. With direct L3 cache access, video performance is improved in the new MacBook Pros by up to 3x, and graphic CPU refinements result in longer battery life when watching movies, something many business users are known to do when killing time on or waiting on flights. Discrete ATI Radeon architecture in the 15" and 17" models automatically improves frames-per-second performance, while optional upgrades enable maximizing video performance with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory thanks to an ATI Radeon HD 6750M video card.

4. They're cost effective

Don't believe me? Price them out.

Assuming an organization with Microsoft open volume licensing in place (where Windows is needed), Apple MacBook Pros are rarely much more expensive than corresponding models from other manufacturers. When comparing pricing, be sure to note the base MacBook Pro boasts the 2.3GHz Intel i5 CPU, 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a DVD burner, a backlit keyboard (which comes in handy when reviewing reports, finishing up presentations and returning email late at night) and fast GPU, as well as multiple USB ports and the new and fast Thunderbolt port.

Factor in higher reliability and some of the highest customer satisfaction and support levels ever measured, and you have a total cost of ownership that typically exceeds that of other systems. Anecdotally, my personal MacBook Pro models have far outlasted and outperformed my Windows (HP and Compaq models, specifically) used since the early ‘00s. The same is true for the hundreds of commercial clients my consultancy supports.

Note that, when I write of Apple MacBook Pro cost efficiencies, I have not nor do I now own any Apple stock. I don't have a horse in this race other than the personal experiences I've had, and that which I've observed my clients having, over more than a decade.

What sets the MacBook Pros apart? Sure, spend enough time and you can likely chase down a similarly spec'd model from another manufacturer, but there's almost always something missing. Because Apple controls and administers the hardware it uses, its engineers tighten control over the fit, finish and driver compatibility. As a result, business users end up with a computer that's simple, well designed, easy to use and better performing over the long haul. That's a great TCO combination in anyone's book.

5. They look damn good

Let's face it. People care about appearances. When meeting on business trips, joining an impromptu board discussion, or comparing notes over coffee, you know you judge others based on the gadgets they bring to the table. You can bet your colleagues are returning the favor. Bring a MacBook Pro to the game, and you don't have to worry. Jonathan Ive, the designer of the unibody MacBook Pro, has won more design awards than most other mortals. And for good reason; his designs hold appeal. Plus, they work.

While you shouldn't have to prove yourself based on the clothes you wear, the watch you sport, or the computer you use, others judge based on such elements. In the cut-throat world of business, competition and free enterprise, it doesn't hurt to leverage a widely respected laptop platform. As mentioned earlier, you also receive reliability, performance and cost efficiency as part of the package, so you can sleep safe at night knowing you didn't sell out.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

28 comments
morris.levy
morris.levy

Half of the comments here are about "I don't know how to administer a Mac" or "I don't know Apple Products" or garbage like that. If your fear is the product, then YOU are the problem, not the computer. Ridiculous. Apple products are awesome for businesses already integrated as "Mac Businesses" because of the complete ease of setup, interoperability of the Apple line-up, and (normal) lack of hardware issues. The OS is easy to learn, and most users become accustomed to the environment in a matter of weeks. More advanced operations can be learned through years of tinkering. Really, as long as your IT knows Unix shell commands, and someone in the IT dept. works on a Mac, knows Apple, and etc., you'll be fine. So all you 'haters', please keep your cool and take a chill.

treerod1
treerod1

Like Eric, the author, I based my opinion on my 25 years of experience as a system integration consultant, equipment sales and repairs. I started out integrating the Mac with the VAX 750 and the Alpha Micro mini-computers during the mid-1980's. Since 1990 I've been more involved in the maintenance and repair of PC's, both DOS and Apple. Interestingly enough, during the 90's through about 2002, most of my income came from the maintenance & repair Apple Mac's followed closely by the PC's. After 2002 and especially after 2005 there was a drastic change - most of my time switched to fixing Windows PC problems ... although it's been mostly time-consuming software related problems. That said, I have business clients/customers that have been with me for some 20 years now. Originally, about 70% of them were PC-DOS , MS-DOS and eventually Window users, with about 20 % Apple Mac and the remaining 10% AlphaMIcro, Digital and Wang users. Of these 80 or so long time customers, 90% are now using the Mac ??? split pretty evenly running either Window XP/Windows 7, or the Mac OSX, and the multi-lingual shops using both OS's. My customers constantly tell me that the Mac runs Windows better than their old third party "windows machines." So yes, the up-front cost for the Mac is higher, especially for my customers. I buy their Mac's for them at retail price and then add $300 ... I up the amount of RAM and also replace the stock hard drives (usually Toshiba's and Seagates) before I deliver it to them. I replace the stock HD with a Hitachi with a higher disk space. The stock HD's from Apple are generally crap (pretty high fail rate, about 30% for the Mac laptops). For the past 8 to 10 year I've never had a Hitachi fail. My experience has shown this HD issue is a weak area for the Apple Macintosh. About two years ago Apple switched to Western Digital HD's for the iMac desktop and I'm now starting to see failures with the Western Digital HD. Other than that, the only time I see a Mac for service today is when someone abuses it. Which now brings us to where is the cost savings for the Mac? Well, as the article points out, it really comes from the Mac's reliability and long life. My clients general use their laptops for about 5 years and the desktop 7 to 8 years. My remaining Windows PC customers can only wish for that kind of experience.

peter
peter

I'm wondering .. how many are actually using or tried to use a Mac for more that a month in lets say the last 3 years ...? Being an IT tech supporting Windows environments since Windows 95 came out I can says that I've been around the block and then some. I worked as a consultant for various industries, so ... I've been using a variety laptop makes over the last decade (HP, Toshiba, Sony, Dell, Acer, Asus, ...) with all different specs and I have to say ... Never again. I bought a MacBook Pro 13" in Aug 2009 purely out of frustration because once again my "windows laptop" crapped out. I figured I had nothing to lose. Being a continent away from home at the time I took my chances. Today I'm still using that same MacBook Pro and haven't missed my windows systems a bit. Performance, stability, battery life all have greatly exceeded my expectation that where windows based expectations ... My Mac has accompanied me on a lot of trips since I bought it '09 from US over Europe to Asia and never let me down. What I see here is cherry picking for arguments sake and therein lays the problem. You are all right, Mac/Windows adepts alike. Sure the pure hardware specs are 'lower' than comparable pc's, But it is not the BHP that the engine produces that counts ... it the way the cars copes with it that is more important. Apple controls the HW and the SW therefore it is much better matched and delivers better efficiency for the same HW. Sure I have a windows VM on my Mac just for the odd config or management tool that does not have a native Mac OS X counterpart, such as the VI Client, but mostly I manage without it. What won me over where not the pure specs nor the design, but rather the way it all comes together. To me its in the details and as such I can really understand the article and vouch for its correctness. Yes Mac's are not always the best choice, but neither are PC's ... You don't buy a sledgehammer to repair a watch. The right tool for the job. For me the bottom line is simple if you fancy a Dodge Ram then drive one, if you prefer a Mustang then drive one. The one is not "better" than the other, their just different.

NKX
NKX

Your conclusions are news to me. If your argument was the ability to use Logic or Garageband on OSX, or about battery life, then i would agree. If you're chasing a business notebooks or a weekend warrior gaming computer, then argument 1, 2, 3 and 4 are out the window. 1) Nice way to cherry-pick the reliability surveys. All the ones I have ever seen place Apple around 4th... usually behind Asus and Toshiba and an ever-changing third. They are made in Foxconn's factory, not buy some single, dedicated, Californian that takes pride in their work. They are just as "mass-produced" as all the other brands and have the same types of reliability issues. For a business machine, Apple's spotty reputation for support and repairs combined with only a 12 month warranty (usually) is not acceptable. Three years plus, on-site, with SLAs to ensure quick turn-around. That's what we business folks are after in hardware. 2) Fast? Really? Why is the brand-new dual-core i5 MacBook Pro still slower and comes with less RAM than my off-the-shelf Asus computer from a year ago? Try a dual-core i7 with 8GB RAM and a BR drive. 3) Graphics. Yep, a newer computer has a newer video card, well done. My year old Asus has an ATI HD 5770 as it's only video card. It's incredibly fast and powerful, and can handle all my weekend gaming needs. It's shame your glowing report on Apple's MacBook Pro and video card selection didn't discuss the video-swapping crash issue that is in the news though. Fan much? 4) And this is what I disagree with most. The Asus I mentioned above, has world-wide 24 month warranty, good support, has been super reliable (I know dozens of people with the same model or similar variant). Aside from the specs above, it's also a 16.1" HD widescreen with LED backlighting (and super-clear gloss screen), USB3, great built-in audio... and came with Office starter and Windows 7 x64. Out of the box as AU$1400 it's more productive (except for battery) than the AU$1900 Apple - which has lesser specifications. Add virtualisation and Windows licenses to that and it's a pretty expensive way to send emails and generate pie charts. 5) Yes, they look nice. Great. I like my Asus too (which is lighter than Apple thanks to solid ABS construction instead of aluminium). Each to there own, and I like the Apple hardware (I have almost a dozen various devices from PowerBook G4s through to iMacs and iPhones, etc)... but I have to call BS on your "best business notebook". Sorry. A 13" HP Slate/Tablet/Convertible with stylus digitizer and multi-touch, with an on-site warranty... that's my business model of choice. Even the old HP 2740p is a great unit. the Toshiba M780 is nice too.

klaasvanbe
klaasvanbe

After installing Open Office you have enough compatibility with Microsoft systems. That makes six reasons.

paul.pittman
paul.pittman

I have a macbook pro that I have been trying to use for business for several years. I always put it aside and go back to my dell latitude. Mac OSX sucks for exchange integration, even with office 2011. The lack of a docking station makes it a pain in the butt to hook and un-hook into my desktop setup. And there is not a good solution to use a dual extermal monitor setup. It is a toy, my dell is a business machine.

akcoyote
akcoyote

A few years back I was the principal Apple support tech at our firm. One other tech backed me up for multiple calls, vacations, etc. At the time we had a total of 9 employees including the 2 owners 8 were technical support and 1 person was administrative support only. Given the vast majority of our clients were Windows shops, I wound up supporting clients with roughly equal numbers of Mac and Windows systems (and the associated servers) or about 500 systems of each flavor. One of our clients asked me to come by and give him a quote for replacing his small Mac network (7 systems plus 1 server) with 'white box' Windows computers which we sold. He had hired a new person who would be serving as his in-house tech support in addition to other duties and this person had recommended upgrading to Windows as a cost saving measure. I asked for a couple of days to get him a quote. I returned with a quote for our systems and the necessary software licenses and gave him a quote from one of the local Apple vendors (we didn't sell Apple products) for an upgrade to comparable Mac systems and software licensing. The Apple quote was better than twice our proposal. I also gave him the numbers from the last roughly 3 years of support revenue from my two customer groups. This included technical services, software licensing and hardware repair and replacement costs. A bit over 91% of my revenues were from the Windows clients. His existing Mac systems were about 5 years old and still performing well for his business so I did a projected TCO for each option. The Apple 'upgrade' was less than 40% the TCO of the Windows 'upgrade'. I did not include any associated Mac to Windows conversion training costs for his staff in the numbers. I suggested that while our company would certainly profit from his switching, both immediately and long term, I wasn't sure it was best decision. (This information and opinion was provided with the approval and 'blessing' of our company owners.) Two weeks later, the client called and asked me to oversee upgrading his systems to new Macs. His technical support person had been asked to seek work elsewhere. While a number of my fellow techs thought that I (and by implication the owners) had been an idiot to 'throw away the potential revenue, over the next 3 months we picked up 2 new clients with a total of about 350 Windows systems and the owners had hired another support person to accommodate the increased business. Both clients referred to the story of this incident having 'gone viral' within the Chamber of Commerce as key to their contacting us. Since I don't represent the numbers and calculations to be representative of the industry averages, there are two conclusions I drew from this experience. First, I would starve to death without the Windows market for my services (still true) and second that providing clients with the best advice you can offer even when it threatens your revenues is not only 'honorable' but can be profitable in the long term. Just one person's experience.......

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

And the rest of us say that if you boost a MacBook Pro up to 8GB RAM, it will scream like a banshee! Not to mention the fact that in some circles, looks are everything, and MacBook Pros have every other laptop beat out by light years!

jheflin
jheflin

You guys are not reading closely. Macs are not cheaper initially and that is not what the author was saying. I administrate a very large network, around 1400 users. We have about 50 Macs in our organization which generally cost about 30% extra to purchase and deploy. Once they are in place, however, they require 70% less admin time to support and only 2% of them have ever required repairs/replacement (many of them have been in place for almost 4 years). The interesting part of this equation is that many of the Mac users were high maintenance mobile users who were equipped with the Mac laptops because their Dell laptops were constantly requiring maintenance and repairs. Now that they have Macs we see and hear from them far less, because the Macs are more durable, reliable and just darn right tougher than the cheaper Dell laptops. That, my friend, makes them a good laptop choice for business and, dollar for dollar, a good business decision.

johnscrooby
johnscrooby

I support about 150 users split about 50/50 between Windows and Mac. When I was 7 years old my parents told me that Santa was bringing me a new bike. Instead, by Christmas my parents were separated, my dog had been run over by my local ice cream truck and I was sharing a room (and a bed) with 9 year old brother. The content of this article was more disappointing than that.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

If a Mac comes out cheaper, it means their competitor already lowered their prices few weeks ago. They are using the same proc, RAM and HDD. So what's the point in getting a Mac? Besides, how many companies have Apple Certified Engineers?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Funny how he says the graphics are first rate when top of the line Windows based laptops are using more premium ATI HD mobile GPUs. As well, unless you are in the graphics business or maybe selling houses, who cares about the GPU. Cost effective? Ya right. For the same top of the line Mac Book Pro you get a top of the line Windows [or even Linux] laptop and room to spare to by a decent desktop system to go with it. Ever heard of the so-called "Apple Tax"? Hope you are going to tell me that the hard disk [or SSD] is unique to the Mac Book Pro. Then there is the lack of management capabilities. No centralized management. No WSUS or SCCM. No centralized anti-virus/anti-malware. No deployment tools. Can't even find managed software to block unauthorized USB devices. As far as looking nice - it's not like you are wearing the laptop as jewelery. Now what laptops out there are ugly? [excluding if you put a skin on it] If you care as much about looks as the other 4 then maybe you should be in the fashion business.

allen
allen

1 out of five in not to good. Some people actually look to Tech Republic for guidance, so how does something like this get past the editors?

bfrick76
bfrick76

For the corporation I work for, Macs are not cheaper to purchase than HP or Lenovo laptops. The Macbook option is more expensive by a factor of four, roughly, according to an admin assistant who actually does the ordering.

nanobody
nanobody

Some platform-sensitive folks are easily agitated. I appreciate the review and everything in it can be backed up by facts and by the increasing number of businesses either adopting Apple products or allowing them as an option.

jacobus57
jacobus57

This article is pretty astonishing. Yeah, Macs are pretty, but they are also pretty damn expensive. They are difficult to administer. In my experience (20+years) they are not all that durable, and they are almost impossible to service. I have been using an Asus netbook I purchased as a throwaway over a year ago. I beat the living bejeebus out of the thing, and use it for hours every day. It dual boots. It is blazingly fast. I do tons of Web development, 2-D graphics production, and general word processing. It is loaded with wonderful FOSS software (many more apps than are available for the Mac OS), has a fantastic display, and knock wood, has been an exceptionally reliable companion. The cost?? 280.00, and now they are cheaper. I would pay five or six times that price why? O right, so I can deal with some jack*** in the Apple store, and have everybody think I am uberkewl. I think not...

mjregil
mjregil

Remote management is also nonexistent compared to pc offerings. Great I.T. offices prevent issues and od servers with ard is not a real solution for any business environment of substantial size. My post is not in ignorance either. I manage a department at a state university with over 200 computers. Of that, 55 are Macs (not including the 50 iPads we have) and the management of the Macs takes twice as long and cause more unexpected problems. Any typical office that is Mac-centric, and not design based, has not done thei homework.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

1. It's an x86 computer. You can buy the same components used from the manufacurer at a lower price. I have personal experience with a Macbook that needed it's Mother Board replaced twice! (No physical damage) I have never seen this happen to any other laptop. 2. Just as fast as that hardware from any manufacturer running any OS. 3. Not even close. The fastest mobile graphics card is the NVIDIA GTX 485, which is not availble yet from Apple. If it does become available, see my answer for #2. 4. This is where you cross a line that is unforgivable. Apple is worse than DELL, both companies are constantly insulting their customers with Memory and HDD prices. Look up the price for the memory by itself from a 3rd party and then look at the price change when installed by Apple. Once you have done that, you can come back and apologize to us. 5. Here's the shining truth. It's pretty. It's a desiner computer. It's like the Louis Vuitton of computing. You pay extra for a fancy case and a name. There are plenty of people who think that the designer goods are actually better somehow. Occasionally this is true. Look at the facts. What is it made of?

cbader
cbader

1. Who cares about graphics on a business machine? For sending email, writing reports, plus all the other business tasks people use their computers for I dont see gaming on the list. 2. Cost effective is the funniest thing on this list. I worked for a company that tried to deploy Macs. They paid triple the cost in hardware compared to a comparably equipped Dell, paid for licenses of Parallels and Win XP on a per machine basis to run those business critical apps that didnt have Mac equivalents. Tell me how that is cost effective? 3. I havent heard any good things about Apples support. The previously mentioned company also had an X-Serve, it took a month to get a hard drive replacement because they dont offer the same type of corporate support options as Dell and other business machines. Take in to account that you cant do your own maintenance on the laptops (upgrade or replace HDD, RAM, etc) and the support option just doesnt make sense.

klaasvanbe
klaasvanbe

I agree completely. I bought an OSX 10.1 machine for my wife in 2001 or 2002 and some years later upgraded to 10.4. Now we have 10.6 for our business together. For us the best of both worlds.

AlexPC
AlexPC

Nice to see someone actually directly comparing stats of comparable machines and making some valid points. To the rest of you crybabies... get over it. Macs have been around for going on 30 years. They are not going anywhere. Creative people in any large company you work in or consult for (such as, but not limited to, designers) will always prefer to use them, not because they're sissies but because Macs always have worked better for those kind of tasks. (For a number of reasons that you are probably ignorant of; font parity and color matching are just two.) Administrative tools for OS X, just as for any Unix system, are mature and powerful, just different from those for Windows. How about instead of whining you suck it up, grow your skill set, and make yourself more marketable?

dcampbell
dcampbell

Office 2011 on Mac rocks when it comes to exchange integration....i prefer it to office 2010

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I invite you to try. This is more than a flame war, ever since Apple moved to Intel platform we can do Apples to "Apples" so to speak. Please go look at the specs for the graphics adapter on a MacBook Pro, and be sure to find the fastest one. Then look up the fastest Mobile GPU available today. It's not the same, is it? This simple test blows #3 out of the water instantly and is obvious to even the most dedicated Mac fanboy. #2 is where the flame war exists. Let's put aside our differences and agree that we are using the same hardware. To argue about speed at this point would be embarassing for both sides. #1 is hard to prove, I point again to the fact that we are using the same hardware. #4? Price it out yourself. I can't see you being able to back any of these claims but I eagerly await your "facts". I would honestly buy an Apple if I didn't feel as if I was being ripped off. I like to hand pick my hardware and I have always feared the mysterious white box. This article appears to be 1/5 and that is far from everything.

VPerkins2
VPerkins2

I was also shocked when I saw the title of this article. Even more shocked as I read it. I've had the 'priviledge' of managing a medium-sized Win/XP environment (350+ Dell PCs & laptops) where the Design Team was (recently) allowed to switch to MacBook Pros and iMacs. We had a devil of a time integrating these devices into the network! Even the simplest task on a Win PC took twice as long on a Mac. I used to tease the Design folks that I was going to make my own 'Mac vs. PC' commercial where the only thing the two guys did was add a network printer to both devices. The Windows tech would look up in 2 minutes and say, "Done!" The Mac tech would be surfing the net 10 minutes later looking for a new Canon printer driver because Canon doesn't yet support his flavor/version of Mac OS X. Then there's the time spent on support calls for this team. Macs would suddenly lose their ability to print to the same printer they printed to the day before. Or suddenly their Entourage mail clients would mysteriously stop sending and receiving mail. Or suddenly accessing the network file shares became a hit-or-miss activity. Yep, buying Macs sure made life more interesting. Add to that the software that they 'have to use' that doesn't have a Mac version. So, just like someone else wrote -- we had to start buying 'Parallels Desktop for Mac' and extra copies of Win/XP so that the Mac folks wouldn't be left out of a bunch of corporate apps. And don't get me started on remote access for these folks! We use Citrix Metaframe (aka Xen Client) and the Dell users connect quite easily. Mac users, on the other hand, have problems installing the darn software. Yep, Macs sure are pretty -- their monitors are fantastic and their cases are very nice looking. But you'll never convince me that when a Dell PC workstation dies that I should replace it with a Mac workstation.

Loopazilla
Loopazilla

I bought one of the very first Macbook Airs in AUstralia. It was an impulse buy. I purchased a 3 yr Applecare plan. At 2 yrs old my MacAir slid off a velvet covered chair onto a tile floor. It weighed a bit more because it had a hardshell cover to protect it from this eventuality, but it hit the hard surface at just the right angle to bring loose one of the tiny fragile screen connectors that hold the scree onto the keyboard base. It was a one in a million chance thing. Applecare refused point blank to replace the screen and wanted 750 for the screen plus the Apple reseller in ALicante Spain wanted and estra 50 just for looking at it for 2 minutes. It was suggested to me that I might as well buy a new one ! The entire screen worked itself loose and now hangs by a few cables from the left side screen feed. This is my experience of Apple.

Ian Wright
Ian Wright

I think your second last paragraph really negates most of your other assertions. These assessments are pretty much determined by the eye of the beholder - if not being able to handpick the hardware (whatever that means in this instant) is your major criteria you'd never be happy with a Mac. The rest of your commentary is rationalisation.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Even if I trusted that Apple could make perfect hardware selections every time I would still feel like I am being ripped off when I compare the real price of these components to an Apple system. It's still a designer computer running on common hardware and that was the point.

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