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ZTE makes its Verizon debut with the ultra-budget Blade Vantage smartphone

Why it matters to you

The ZTE Blade Vantage comes at only $50, and may well be the best phone for that price currently on the market.

ZTE is making its big push into the United States, and to do that, it’s finally working with Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the country. The mobile phone manufacturer has announced that it will be offering its first device on Verizon, called the ZTE Blade Vantage.

The phone is aimed at being an excellent ultra-budget option, and it comes in at only $50. Sure, for that price you won’t get a flagship device, but it’s actually not a bad option for those looking for a super-cheap phone. For that $50, you’ll get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor, coupled with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. That storage can be expanded upon with the MicroSD card slot, which is helpful for those that want a little more space.

Even the cameras on the device are better than you would expect for the price. The rear-facing camera sits in at 8-megapixels, with the front-facing camera coming in at 2 megapixels. Powering the whole device is a 2,500mAh battery, which may not be as big as some other phones, but considering the display sits in at only 854 x 480 pixels, it should be able to get you through the day.

“The ZTE Blade Vantage is ZTE’s first smartphone to be on Verizon’s network, signifying an expanded partnership that we are excited to see grow over the coming months and years,” ZTE CEO Lixin Cheng said in a press release. “Consumers continue to be attracted to our affordable premium smartphone lineup, and we’re excited that Verizon customers can now purchase a ZTE device with the Blade Vantage.”

The super-budget phone market really seems to be heating up. Gone are the days when not paying a premium meant having to deal with a nonperforming device. These days, phones like the Blade Vantage mean that not only can you get a smartphone for $50, but you can get one that’s more than capable of handling most day-to-day tasks like basic web-browsing, social media, and so on. Sure, as mentioned, it won’t be able to do things like handle virtual reality or serious multitasking — but as is always the case with these things, that tech will eventually trickle down to low-cost phones like this.


Best iOS app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time

Everyone likes Apple apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers put paid apps on sale for free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest iOS app deals available from the iOS App Store.

These apps normally cost money and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged. 


SideGuide is you’re crowdsourcing solution for what to say in any situation. Whether you have a romantic conundrum, professional quandary, or a social dilemma, SideGuide can help you figure out what to say.

Available on:



The patented Gaitometer measures the symmetry of steps when walking (or running), and provides real-time audio and visual feedback to assist the user in obtaining a more symmetric and healthier gait.

Available on:



Aerium is a gorgeously crafted weather app that alerts you to when it’s expected to rain in your location the day before. The weather descriptions can help you decide how you need to dress before going out.

Available on:


Binaural Meditation

The beats in Binaural Meditation have been engineered to help you get into deep states of meditation and mindfulness as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Available on:



Designed by behavioral experts, myPref is a convenient, efficient way to to determine preferences. Up-to-date preferences are vital to the effectiveness of any behaviorally based program and myPref makes performing these assessments easy and accurate.

Available on:



PaintVideo is an easy-to-use video drawing application with real-time features with which you can draw, write, fill, blur, and add music within an existing video.

Available on:



3D printing could make the K-Pan film camera expandable with new accessories

Why it matters to you

While the original parts will be shipped to maintain consistent quality, the K-Pan aims to expand with print-at-home accessories.

Traditional film, meet the modern convenience of 3D printing. The K-Pan is a 3D-printed camera that uses 120mm medium-format film to capture panoramic photos — with a little DIY thrown in, too. Designed by London-based photographer Paul Kohlhaussen, the K-Pan is launching on Kickstarter with fully assembled editions and DIY kits.

Kohlhaussen built the K-Pan for his design portfolio last year, but the initial project reviewed such a large response that he decided to being the K-Pan to more users by launching the camera on Kickstarter. The K-Pan is selling largely as a DIY kit, shipping with the 3D-printed parts, but requiring assembly and allowing for users to apply a custom finish or leave the gray nylon material unfinished. Ten fully completed K-Pan units will also be sold through the campaign.

Because the K-Pan is 3D printed, the camera is designed to be a modular system, which means new features can be added and printed at home. While the initial parts are 3D printed and shipped to maintain quality, the developer plans to release updates by sharing 3D printing files and allowing users to print their own expandable accessories. Examples include a grip, slides for accommodating more film sizes and a phone mount that turns the phone into a viewfinder and light meter, along with any replacement parts.

The K-Pan uses 120mm medium-format film, offering a larger film surface for enhanced photo quality, and shoots five 6 x 15 centimeter frames on each roll. The camera has a mount for a 4 x 5 lens. The K-Pan has a fixed focus set to infinity, but spacer brackets inserted between the lens and the body allow for some adjustment.

The camera is 3D printed from an SLS nylon material than can be left unfinished or painted to create a custom exterior. The entire camera measures less than 9 inches wide and weighs around 12 ounces. At the bottom, the camera uses a 1/4-20 thread tripod mount.

The Kickstarter project is nearly halfway to their approximately $53,000 goal, with the campaign continuing through October 25. If the project reaches full funding and manufacturing is successful, early backers can pick up the K-Pan standard kit for pledges starting at $364. Pledges for a fully finished and assembled camera are $891. The developer plans to ship cameras to backers in March 2018.


Here’s where you can buy a Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in the United Kingdom

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL look set to improve on the original Pixel phone, with an even better camera, a prettier design, some fun augmented reality features, plus the latest processor and Android software. Go on, you can admit it, you want one right? Of course, and the good news is it’s easy to pre-order one ahead of the launch later this month.

We’ve got a comprehensive how to buy a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 phone roundup for U.S. buyers here. Below, we’ll cover how to get one if you live in the U.K. Google has announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL for the U.S. and the U.K. at the same time, along with Australia, Canada, Germany, and India, too.

If the money is ready and burning a hole in your pocket, let’s go shopping! We’ve got everything you need to know about how to buy a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in the United Kingdom.

How to buy an unlocked Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

If you can afford it, buying a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL without a contract is recommended. The phone is yours outright, you’re free to choose the network and tariff that’s best for you, and you can sell the phone at any time to fund a new purchase.

  • The Devices section of the Google Play Store is the main location for unlocked Pixel 2 phones in the United Kingdom. Pre-ordering is worthwhile, as Google is giving everyone who does a free Google Home Mini, with 50 British pounds.
  • A Pixel 2 with 64GB of internal storage costs 630 British pounds, while the 128GB version costs 730 British pounds.
  • There are three colors available, just black, clearly white, and kinda blue. You’re hilarious Google. At the time of writing, the black version will ship first and by October 17. The white Pixel 2 will ship in five to six weeks time from announcement, and the blue version has a waitlist already.
  • The Pixel 2 XL with 64GB of memory costs 800 British pounds, and 900 British pounds with 128GB of storage space.
  • For the Pixel 2 XL, you can choose between two color schemes: Just black, and black & white. There’s a five-to six-week wait for the black model, and an approximate December shipping date for the black & white model.
  • Don’t go looking for the free Google Home Mini when you checkout, Google will email you a promo code between four and six weeks after delivery. It’s only for pre-orders placed between October 3 and December 31, and must be redeemed by February 28, 2018. Google isn’t providing any time-to-pay offers through its store in the U.K..

Buy a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL through a network

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can be purchased with a contract through a network, or one high street retailer, if you’d prefer not to buy the phone outright.


  • The 64GB Pixel 2, in all three colors, is available with EE on a 24-month contract. It costs 10 British pounds up front, and then 48 British pounds each month with 8GB of data. Deliveries will start within two weeks from announcement.
  • The 64GB Pixel 2 XL, in both colors, also costs 10 British pounds up front, and 58 British pounds each month for two years. It has the same 8GB of data each month. It’s quoting a 40-day wait before deliveries start.
  • Pre-ordering with EE also gets you a free Google Home Mini.

Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse sells the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL either with a contract, or unlocked at the same price as Google. The added bonus of buying at Carphone Warehouse is the ability to choose a network other than EE for your phone.

  • Carphone Warehouse is promoting an O2 deal with the 64GB Pixel 2 for 60 British pounds up front, and 44 British pounds each month for two years, with 10GB of data.
  • The Pixel 2 will be delivered from Carphone Warehouse starting October 19.
  • Look out for deals on the Pixel 2 XL, which haven’t been listed yet. Deliveries aren’t expected before November 15.
  • You will also get a Google Home Mini when pre-ordering a Pixel 2 with Carphone Warehouse.

Those are your choices for the Pixel 2 in the U.K., and we’ll keep this guide updated if any further options become available.


Sphero is selling a murdered out R2-D2 at New York Comic Con

I know, I know. This is actually R2-Q5.

Lots of people know who R2-D2 is, but few realize that R2 is actually an indicator for a whole bunch of astromech droids. For example, the Galactic Empire utilized tons of these droids for many different ships. These droids had the same basic shape as R2-D2, but had a different paint job and clearly worked for the Bad Guys™.

The most prominent example of these other R2 units is R2-Q5, and if you’ve ever wanted to see its shiny black exterior get the same attention as R2-D2, the folks at Sphero have something cool to show you.


While Sphero gets a lot of attention for its BB-8 and recently added BB-9E droids, the Sphero-made R2-D2 is truly in a class of its own. It’s a tremendous accomplishment in realism, down to the lights in the dome and the behaviors programmed into the droid when connected to your phone. It’s a quality piece of Star Wars gadgetry, and crazy fun to play with.

R2-Q5 is the “dark side” version, in much the same way that BB-9E is the darker form of BB-8. You have all of the same technical parts underneath, but the attitude and mannerisms of this droid will not be at all like you’ve seen from its infamous counterpart. If that’s what you want in your collection, this option is now available to you.

Sphero is unveiling this droid at New York Comic Con today, with limited quantities for people in attendance to buy. If you’re not there, pre-orders are up at Best Buy for $200

Pre-order at Best Buy


Microsoft Edge browser is coming to Android soon

Using Windows 10 with an Android is about to get a lot easier, as Microsoft is bringing its Edge web browser to those phones starting today.

In a surprise announcement, Microsoft said its Edge web browser is now available for iPhones, with a release for Android “in the coming weeks.”

The initial rollout for the browser will be limited to those in the U.S. but should expand to other markets over time. Currently, the browser is in preview only as Microsoft begins to build out features based on user feedback. The same goes for tablet support on both OSes, which should come later.

Edge for Android and ‘Continue on PC’

Microsoft’s main goal with the Edge browser for Android users is to make sharing documents easier and help you pick up where you left off when using Windows 10.

Part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update feature set is the ability for consumers to pass a link to the “Continue on PC” share target. While that feature works, it is hard to find and not very intuitive.

How to use ‘Continue on PC’ for Android in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The Edge browser for Android, however, makes Continue on PC a prime feature with a prominent share icon near the bottom of the browser. Users can just tap to continue the experience on their Windows 10 PCs, or save it for later.

Other features in the Windows 10 version of Edge are also present, including:

  • Website favorites sync.
  • Reading list sync.
  • eBook and ePub support, including sync of purchased content from Windows Store. (Coming soon.)
  • Password sync. (Coming soon.)

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, told us that there are no immediate plans for browser extensions, but like many future feature updates, future direction will be partially determined by user feedback and requests.

Other abilities, like signing into your Microsoft Account, InPrivate tab (private browsing), AirDrop, and the ability to set your default search engine to Bing, Google, or Yahoo, are already enabled.

Some of the features like password sync, eBooks, and support for tablets, will come later as Microsoft builds out the current Edge for Android application.

Although initially only for the U.S. market, Microsoft expects to push Edge to other countries and languages as it expands the preview to get more feedback.

Edge for iOS and Android – Slightly more than skin deep

Microsoft told Windows Central that these are not native browsers in the traditional sense. Edge for iOS is based on the WebKit layout engine, while the Edge browser for Android is based on Chromium. That rendering technology contrasts with the EdgeHTML engine that the Windows 10 browser leverages, so build strings and feature sets won’t be aligned.

Apple simply does not allow third-party browsers based on non-WebKit engines in the Apple Store, and Android is built around Chromium, making it a more natural fit for that OS.

These Edge browsers are basically sophisticated skins with advanced feature sets that allow syncing with your Windows 10 PC for favorites, reading lists, reading view across your PC and phone, and more features that are familiar to Windows 10 consumers.

Due to Apple’s restrictions, consumers won’t be able to set Edge for iOS as the default browser. Such limitations, however, do not apply to Android.

Edge-iOS-screenshots2_0.jpg?itok=543fToqOn October 17 iPhone and Android users can continue browsing on Windows 10 via handoff.

Where to get Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android

Starting today, iPhone users can use Apple Test Flight to begin using Edge for iOS Preview. Those on Android can sign up to be one of the first to test the preview Edge for Android, which launches in the coming weeks.

To sign up for Edge on both iOS and Android just head to Microsoft’s site here to get started.

In addition to announcing Edge for Android Microsoft is also rebranding its Arrow launcher. See what’s new with Microsoft Launcher for Android, which is now available!


Microsoft Launcher for Android takes over for Arrow with new features, design tweaks

Microsoft’s popular Arrow launcher is graduating from “garage app” to a full-fledged Microsoft property. Here is what’s new with Microsoft Launcher for Android.

In late 2015, Microsoft surprised many with its very own Android launcher (read our review) dubbed “Arrow.” Although not an official application, Arrow was instead part of Microsoft’s Garage cadre of apps that its employees developed on their own time.


Today that all changes, as Arrow is now just Microsoft Launcher for Android. But there is a lot more than a name change, including some new features and the first application of Microsoft’s Fluent Design System outside of Windows 10.

Related: Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL — Specs, pricing, and everything else

What’s new with Microsoft Launcher for Android

Microsoft is continuing to build new features into its Android launcher, including a focus on “Continue on PC.” Instead of using the share target, which is not intuitive, those using Microsoft Launcher for Android can long press on documents, images, and more to directly continue the experience on their Windows 10 PCs.


That feature requires users be on the forthcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which is set to be released on October 17. You can read our guide on how to link your phone to your Windows 10 PC to get started.

New features in Microsoft Launcher for Android include:

  • The Feed — Info at your Fingertips. With just a quick swipe-to-the-right, Microsoft Launcher offers a tailored feed of your important events, top news, recent activities, favorite people and most frequently used apps.
  • Beautiful and customizable — Launcher has wide-ranging ways to let you personalize your phone, it’s easy to set colors of backgrounds, and new “gesture” support will let even hard-core customizers create the environment that makes them most productive.
  • Continue on PC — And of course, Microsoft Launcher has been designed to make it easy for you to continue what you’re working on seamlessly — whether it’s photos, documents and more — on your PC

One of the more familiar features that Windows 10 users will appreciate is the ability to pin contacts right to the main launcher. Options let you open the contact’s full information or immediately dial that person. Later on, Microsoft expects to have notification support for pinned people reflecting the My People feature in Windows 10.

Microsoft-Launcher-Android-ContinuePC_0.New “Continue on PC” built right into the Launcher.

The Feed is also very impressive. Fully customizable, the Feed shows you the recent activities, latest news, calendar events, contact information, weather, and it even has a delightful greeting for you based on the time of day. Users can set the background to be translucent, dark, or light themed with customizable colors like accent colors in Windows 10.

The Microsoft Launcher for Android is fast, and those who already use Arrow will be very familiar with the layout and settings. Users can still customize the grid, swap out icon packs, log into their Microsoft Accounts, back up and restore, disable animations, and more, which makes the launcher very much your own.

Where to get Microsoft Launcher for Android

For those who are already enrolled in the Microsoft Arrow beta program, an update to the launcher to make it Microsoft Launcher for Android should go live today and happen automatically. Your app layouts, wallpaper, and more all remain the same, as this is just an app update, not a reinstallation.

Those who have Arrow launcher installed from the Google Play store can sign up for the beta today to get the new Microsoft Launcher for Android right away. If you have never used Arrow, you can get into the Microsoft Launcher for Android preview and get the new experience now. Just download the app.

Download: Microsoft Launcher (free)

Today’s announcement follows the similar one that Microsoft’s Edge web browser is coming to Android in the coming weeks. The combination of Microsoft Launcher, Edge, Skype, Cortana and more on Android should make Windows 10 fans with Android phones quite pleased.


Score a first-gen Amazon Echo for $80 shipped at Woot

Today’s the day to save big on an Amazon Echo!

Amazon announced an all-new lineup of Echo devices recently, and as expected we are now seeing some great deals on the original. Right now you can pick up the first-generation Amazon Echo for $79.99 at Woot. The smart speaker itself is selling for $74.99, but Woot charges an unavoidable $5 shipping fee, so it’s easier to think of the item cost just being $79.99.

This is the same price we’ve seen refurbished versions hit in the past, but this time around you get a brand new one. Woot has both black and white versions in stock as of right now, though that will likely change during the day.


With the Amazon Echo, you can not only play your favorite tunes through the great-sounding speaker, but also control your smart home gadgets, find answers to your questions, and much more. If you’ve been on the edge about trying an Echo, this deal may be the one that finally pushes you over the edge and makes you try it. If you’re more interested in the new Echo lineup, Amazon has some great bundles to make your purchase more affordable.

You’ll get a 1-year warranty on the Echo, and Woot offers a 30-day return policy.

See at Woot

More from Thrifter

  • How to prevent your kids from making purchases with Alexa
  • How to get hotel room upgrades for free

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!


Google quietly removed all Android Wear watches from the Google Store

All Android Wear watches have been removed from the Google Store without any sort of explanation. What’s going on here?

Google made just a couple of small announcements at its October 4 event, including the likes of the Pixel 2, Pixelbook, Home Mini, and more. However, amidst all of this excitement and drooling over new toys, something interesting was spotted. Take a quick glance through the updated Google Store, and you won’t find a single listing for any Android Wear device.


The Google Store homepage is quick to show you all of the company’s latest and greatest products, but you can no longer search or browse for Android Wear watches from it. The Android Wear page itself can still be accessed by going to the link directly, but for all intents and purposes, Google is hiding this section from any of the Store’s visitors.

The LG Watch Style and Watch Sport are still listed within the Android Wear page, but neither of the watches are in stock or available to purchase. If you click on “shop now” next to either one, you’ll see a message saying “no longer available” for both.

Android Wear has failed to cultivate a true interest since its 2.0 release in February.

Google added a ton of new features and refinements to Android Wear with the big 2.0 release this February, but neither the Watch Style or Watch Sport that pioneered this new software release were able to captivate an audience the same way devices like the original Huawei Watch or Moto 360 were able to the year before. There have been other Android Wear products outside of Google’s two flagships earlier this year, but they’ve either been from luxury fashion brands, adopted bulky designs that not everyone is asking for, or have been discontinued after just 4 months.

Related: 5 reasons you should buy an Android Wear watch right now

The disappearance of the Android Wear page from the Google Store doesn’t necessarily mean that the platform is dead, but it is a sign that it’s not a main area of focus for Google at the moment. Instead, the company is relying on its partners to sell the platform, not necessarily the brand itself, to mainstream users.

Android Wear

  • Everything you need to know about Android Wear 2.0
  • LG Watch Sport review
  • LG Watch Style review
  • These watches will get Android Wear 2.0
  • Discuss Android Wear in the forums!


Sonos One and Alexa are a match made in heaven


Alexa gets the headlines when it comes to Sonos’ new speaker, but it’s even more assistants and services are coming — and that’s what’s truly exciting.

It’s easy to look at what Sonos announced today in New York City — a new Sonos One speaker, with microphones and Amazon Alexa integration built in, as well as external Alexa support for its older speakers — and think “OK, that’s it. That’s easy.”

Only, that’s not it. And it’s not easy. There’s a lot more going on here here just a single speaker and Alexa.

Sure, this is still core Sonos. That means really good wireless music made easy. But where Sonos has shown the most growth — and it still has plenty of room left on that front — is by connecting all the things.

Let’s break down what’s new, and what’s still to come.

Sonos One ($199, Oct. 24)


Sonos ain’t playing around anymore. Gone is the “Play” name from its entry-level speaker. It’s just “Sonos One” from here on out. (And it wouldn’t surprise me to see that scheme the next time the Play:3 and Play:5 are refreshed.)

Sonos Play One is the one speaker to rule them all. Or, it will be at some point.

Sonos One looks a lot like the Play:1, but the company tells us the two speakers share just two mechanical components. The grilles may look the same, but Sonos One is a new speaker from the rubber footings to the new touch buttons on top.

It’s a very familiar product to anyone who owns a Play:1, to be sure. It looks similar. It sounds similar. The touch buttons are a nice addition, though. While I’d always appreciated the simplicity of the Play:1, this just seems more sophisticated than the play/pause and volume buttons we had before, even if it definitely also looks more complicated.


New, of course, is the six-microphone array for talking to Alexa. That’s tucked into the top of the speaker, and the mics are hardwired into a small LED on top of the speaker. When the mics are on and listening, the LED is on. Light’s off? Mics off. Sonos says that’s explicitly for peace of mind if you’re worried about your things listening to you all day, and that the LED can’t be turned off if the mic’s on. (Sounds like a challenge to me.)

And Alexa is … Well, she’s still Alexa. Anything you can ask her now, you can ask her through Sonos One. What’s really cool here is that Sonos One and Alexa can control any other Sonos speakers you have hooked into your system. One Sonos One may not be all you want, but for a lot of folks it may be all they need.

In any event, Sonos One can still be set up with another as a stereo pair, or grouped with other speakers, of course.

See at Sonos

Alexa, AirPlay 2, Assistant and an open platform


The other side of the coin here is services. Lots and lots of services. Some coming in to Sonos, and some going out.

Alexa on all the Sonos things

Starting today, you can control any Sonos speaker through Alexa. So if you’ve got a $50 Amazon Echo Dot, you can control your $500 Sonos system. (If you’ve manage to spend only $500, my hat’s off to you.)

That means the. Play:5 you bought years ago will work through Alexa, so long as you’ve got something that Alexa already ties into.

To set all that up, you’ll just need to go into the Sonos Skill for Alexa and connect your accounts. Super easy.

AirPlay 2

For those of you on iOS, know this: Sonos will support AirPlay 2. In 2018. So, yeah. You’ve got a little while to wait.

It’s still a big deal, though, because it means anything you an play on an iPhone or iPad you’ll be able to play through Sonos.

That’s been a long-requested feature, and it’s one that got a lot of applause today. It’s also one that still has a few details outstanding, so we’ll have to wait and see on that.

Google Assistant

While Alexa was the headlined assistant feature of the event, it by no means was the only one. Sonos announced that Google Assistant — essentially Google’s version of Alexa or Siri — will be coming to the platform sometime in 2018. That means anything you can control with Google on your phone (or in your car, or now on your earbuds, or …) you’ll be able to do from Sonos.

How soon? We don’t know. But that leads us into …

Open platforms mean better platforms

Probably the biggest news is that Sonos is moving to an all-open platform. That means a couple things. First, it means anyone who wants to add their service to Sonos can do so. (That means it’ll show up in the Sonos app.)


The flip side of that is that any service can also integrate Sonos into its own app. Consider: Few music apps let you chose Sonos as an output. Google Play Music is one of the few that can, in my experience. But mostly if you want to listen to something through Sonos, you have to use the Sonos app to do it. That’ll change.

This really is more of a reflection of Sonos itself, though. It wants Sonos One to be the one speaker to rule them all, and it wants Sonos (the platform) to the be most robust of anything out there.

You want Alexa? It’ll do Alexa. You want Google? It’ll do Google. You want something else? It’ll do that, too.

While Google’s doing its thing with Google Home Max and Apple’s doing its thing with HomePod and and Amazon’s doing its thing with Echo Pro, Sonos is quickly building the one platform that can do all the things.

And that, folks, is Sonos One.

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