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Our Favorite Instant Read Thermometers

There’s no question in my mind that a quality instant read thermometer is one of the most important tools you can have. Whether you’re grilling, smoking, or just cooking in the kitchen as a home chef, we all know that we’re cooking to temperature. We want the best instant read thermometer to monitor that internal temperature so our steaks are …

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By Jeremy Pike

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Best Instant Read Thermometer Review

There’s no question in my mind that a quality instant read thermometer is one of the most important tools you can have. Whether you’re grilling, smoking, or just cooking in the kitchen as a home chef, we all know that we’re cooking to temperature. We want the best instant read thermometer to monitor that internal temperature so our steaks are cooked to that perfect level of doneness, our chicken cooked to 165°F so it’s still juicy, and our brisket smoked to between 203°-205°F so it’s tender. 

We also know that searching on Amazon can be an overwhelming experience due to the sheer number of digital meat thermometers there are out there. So to figure out just exactly what the best instant read thermometer is, we’ve tested a number of them. We’ve spent plenty of time around grills, smokers, and stove tops, so we’ve had plenty of time to put these thermometers to the test. Our personal favorite is the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE. It reads temperatures lightning fast, it has an auto-sensing backlight for those late-night grilling sessions, it’s extremely accurate, and it’s easy to use. We put the Typhur InstaProbe as the runner-up just because it is new to the market and we want to keep testing it for a while to see how it holds up. It is neck and neck with the Thermapen One.

Let’s break down what makes a great instant read thermometer and get into the list of our top picks!

Our Top Instant Read Thermometers At A Glance….

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageTop PickTop PickThermapen One
  • Less than 1 sec Readings
  • Most Accurate
  • Rotating Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageRunner-UpRunner-UpTyphur InstaProbe
  • Readings in 0.75 sec
  • OLED Display
  • Magnetic Holder
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageMost VersatileMost VersatileFireboard Labs Spark
  • 1 sec Readings
  • WIFI/Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Large Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageHonorable MentionHonorable MentionChefsTemp Finaltouch X10
  • 1 sec Readings
  • Affordable
  • Large Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest BudgetBest BudgetThermoWorks ThermoPop 2
  • 2-3 sec Readings
  • Large Backlit Display
  • Compact
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageLavatools Javelin Pro Duo
  • 2-3 sec Readings
  • Backlit Display
  • Magnetic
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageCheap Like BorschtCheap Like BorschtThermoPro TP03
  • Cheap
  • It Works
  • Did I Mention Cheap?
CHECK PRICE

What Is An Instant Read Thermometer?

Simply put, an instant read thermometer is a temperature probe that, when inserted into a food or liquid, quickly detects the temperature at a single point (usually the very tip of the probe) and displays it in either Fahrenheit or Celsius on a display screen. Perhaps we grew up with the old-school analog thermometer where you had to wait quite a while to get an accurate temperature reading on that dial. A digital instant read thermometer does the same thing except in a matter of seconds and a high degree of precision.

From there, these instant read digital thermometers can offer a number of features that improve quality of usage. Some have backlit displays so you can get readouts while cooking at night or checking temperatures in the oven that no longer has a working light (just me?). Others have auto-rotating displays so that no matter if you’re twisting to get the readout for that chicken thigh in the back of the smoker you can easily read it. A few even have a hold feature so you can grab a temperature reading when you can’t even see the display. 

How Accurate Is An Instant-Read Thermometer?

Not all instant read thermometers have the same degree of accuracy, but there does seem to be a fairly established range of accuracy for good thermometers. For the six on this list, all of the thermometers are accurate within a degree if not even better. 

How High Do Instant Read Thermometers Go?

The beauty of most instant read thermometers is that you’ll be able to measure temperatures in a wide range. The thermometers in this list go to at least 482°F (250°C.) Some can measure temperatures up to 572°F (299.9°C.)

What Makes Instant Read Thermometers Great?

Two of the most important features of an instant read thermometer are the speed and accuracy of temperature readings. You may not necessarily be concerned with getting your readings to a tenth of a degree, but you still want to know whether your chicken is at 155°F or 165°F. Instant read thermometers are incredibly important when it comes to food safety. You don’t want to serve undercooked food that could potentially get someone sick.

You also don’t want to serve overcooked, dried-out, and tough food because no one wants to eat that (unless you like well-done steak, I suppose.) The more accurate a thermometer, the better. Look for models that are at least accurate within a degree if you’re going for more of a value option and close to half a degree of accuracy with more expensive models. You can always check how accurate a thermometer is by checking the temperatue of boiling water in a pot or ice water. Water boils at 212°F (100°C) and water freezes at 32°F (0°C,) so you know how accurate your thermometer is. 

How fast an instant-read thermometer gets an accurate reading is important, too. Every second you have that grill lid or oven door open, valuable heat (and smoke if you’re cooking outside) escapes, lengthening the cooking process. Also, sticking your hand over a roaring fire or inside a 450°F oven is not exactly the most pleasant feeling in the world. You want to get that temperature reading and get out. Readings within one second is a big positive.

However, there are some additional features like described above that make for a great instant read thermometer. Backlit displays are perfect for when you’re cooking late at night or sticking the thermometer in the back of a pellet grill that has no light. Accuracy and speed are great, but if you can’t read the display, it’s still a problem. 

The durability of the instant read thermometer is incredibly important, too. The majority of these thermometers aren’t exactly what you would call cheap. If you’re expecting to walk into your local big box store and plunking down $15 while walking away with something that will last you for years and does a great job, you’re dreaming. There are high-quality value options available, but you don’t want to be replacing these every six months or so. You’ll want good, solid construction that provides at least some protection from liquids (look for splash-proof designations.) I’ve seen what water can do to a thermometer that did not have much in the way of protection. It’s not good.

So now we have some ideas of what we want out of an instant read thermometer. Let’s get to the list of our best instant read thermometers!

Best Instant Read Thermometer Comparison Table

ThermoWorks Thermapen ONETyphur InstaProbeFireBoard SparkChefsTemp FinalTouch X10Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2
Temp Reading Range-58°-572°F-58°-572°F-58°-572°F-22°-572°F -40°-482°F-52°-572°F
ResponseTimeUnder 1 second0.75 seconds1 second1 second2-3 seconds2-3 seconds
Accuracy0.5°F0.5°F0.7°F0.7°F0.9°F1°F
BacklightYesOLEDYesYesYesYes
Rotating DisplayYesYesYesYesYesYes
Water Resistance RatingIP67IP67IP66IP67IP65IP67
NISTCertificate of CalibrationYesYesYesNoNoYes
Warranty5 Years1 Year1 Year5 Years3 Years2 Years

ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE

Thermapen ONE Best Instant Read Thermometer
Thee Thermapen ONE

If you’ve seen professional grillers and pitmasters, chances are you’ve seen one of ThermoWorks’ iconic Thermapens at work. That’s for good reason as ThermoWorks brings a whole lot of experience across multiple industries where temperature measuring is absolutely essential to the instant read thermometer game. The Classic Thermapen was a mainstay for people who took their grilling and barbecuing seriously to the point of making money on it. 

What Makes Thermapens So Good?

Whether it’s the Classic Thermapen, the Thermapen MK4, or the Thermapen ONE, the Thermapen line has long been a staple of grillers and pitmasters all over. Why is that, though? ThermoWorks puts a lot of care into each thermometer born out of the company’s experience of working in industries requiring precision temperature readings like pharmaceutical, food processing, and even heating and air conditioning applications. All that experience is distilled into the thermometers that ThermoWorks produces, especially the Thermapen line. 

Then came the Thermapen ONE. It took the quality of the Classic model and made it better by offering faster and more accurate readings, improving the display by adding a backlight and 360-degree auto-rotation, and improving its water resistance rating. 

Simply said, the Thermapen ONE took one of the most iconic instant read thermometers beloved by professionals and made it better. As someone who has hands-on experience with both the Classic Thermapen and the Thermapen ONE, I can see why the Classic was well-loved while also seeing why the Thermapen ONE is a superior product. 

If you’re concerned about accuracy, don’t take our word at Angry BBQ for it. Each Thermapen ONE comes with an NIST-Traceable Certificate Of Calibration. This means that each Thermapen ONE was tested in a lab and met the National Institute of Standards and Technology standards. This thermometer is accurate per scientists not employed by ThermoWorks. 

The Thermapen ONE is powered by a single AAA battery, meaning it’s easier to replace than a button battery. The thermometer feels good in your hand with a textured finish and a rubber lining meaning you don’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hand whether you’ve got gloves on or just sweaty hands. The ONE is also IP67 certified for water resistance, meaning it can handle temporary submersion for up to 30 seconds. So even if it did slip out of your hand into water, you can rest assured that it will still function as long as you can fish it out within 30 seconds.

For more information and details, check out our full review.

What We Like…

  • Quick and accurate readings
  • Backlit display for when you’re cooking late at night
  • Textured body makes it easy to hold

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Ummmmmm. We’ll get back to you on this. Nothing so far.


Typhur InstaProbe

Typhur InstaProbe

While some other companies on this list might have multiple offerings in terms of thermometers, Typhur just does one instant-read thermometer, and it’s a good one. 

The InstaProbe lives up to the instant part of its name with sub one-second temperature readings that are within half a degree Fahrenheit. There is no waiting around for a temperature because Typhur has soldered the tip of the probe directly to the thermocouple. That allows for a 0.15 second time constant that results in a full reading in 0.75 seconds. 

That temperature reading displays on an OLED digital display, meaning you can see the white numbers on a black background regardless of the level of light. No need to wait for an automatic light sensor to engage or hitting a button to trigger it either. 

The display is also auto-rotating so no matter which way you turn the InstaProbe or which hand you hold it in, you can read the temperature. The probe does not swivel 270°, only to 180° but it is usable by both left-handed and right-handed people thanks to the auto-rotating display.

The InstaProbe runs off two AAA batteries which are included in the box. That means all you have to do is unscrew the battery compartment with a Phillips screwdriver, put the batteries in, reattach the cover, and you’re good to go. No need to find batteries in a drawer.

The other big feature of the InstaProbe is that it comes with an IP67 water-resistant rating. You can wash the thermometer if it gets splashed with liquids during usage without worrying about frying the electronics. Just don’t run it in the dishwasher, it’s only rated for temporary submersion. 

Check out our full review here!

What We Like…

  • Super-fast and accurate temperature readings
  • OLED display is easy to read no matter the lighting conditions
  • Magnet allows for you to put the InstaProbe on any magnetic surface for storage

What Makes Us Angry…

  • The probe point is exposed at all times, so you need to be careful when reaching for the thermometer


FireBoard Spark

Fireboard Labs Spark Instant Read Thermometer

FireBoard offers a number of quality temperature-related products, so it’s no surprise that it would offer a high-quality instant read thermometer. The Spark does offer a number of surprises itself, though. 

At its core, the FireBoard Spark is a fast and accurate instant read thermometer. It offers readings in one second and is accurate plus or minus 0.7°F, so no worries about thinking your food is done and it’s undercooked or dried out. Yes, the Spark also comes with an NIST-Traceable Certificate of Calibration, so you know it’s as accurate as FireBoard says. The large display is easy to read with glowing numbers on a dark screen so you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out what it’s reading in the dark. 

Where the FireBoard Spark offers some surprises is in its wireless connectivity. That’s right, the Spark is WiFi and Bluetooth enabled. Why would an instant read thermometer need that? That’s a good question, and it’s because the Spark is not just an instant read thermometer in two separate but distinct ways. 

One, the Spark has a port for a traditional probe thermometer. You can actually monitor your low-and-slow barbecuing session with the Spark and get your temperature readouts on the FireBoard mobile app on your phone.

Read our full review of the Spark here.

The other way is if you have any other FireBoard products. Using its SyncMode, you can turn the Spark into a remote display to monitor temperatures from the FireBoard 2 Drive, for instance. 

The Spark also has a rechargeable lithium ion battery and an included USB-C charging cable so you can simply plug it into the wall when the battery gets low (about a year or so of normal use according to FireBoard.) 

What We Like…

  • Accurate and fast readouts
  • Bright, easy-to-read display no matter the lighting conditions
  • Bonus functionality through a probe port for when you’re smoking food

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Some of the functionality you’re paying for only applies if you have other FireBoard devices
  • The most expensive instant read thermometer on the list


ChefsTemp Finaltouch X10

Chefstemp Finaltouch X10 Review

ChefsTemp may not be as familiar a name to grillers and pitmasters as ThermoWorks, but make no mistake, this company makes quality products at home in both professional and home kitchens. That means ChefsTemp understands food safety in terms of undercooking and the unpleasantness that is overcooked food. 

The Finaltouch X10 boasts a one-second temperature reading time and accuracy to within 0.7°F. The display is a black background with brightly-colored and large numbers, making it easy to read no matter your lighting conditions. If you find yourself having to twist the thermometer to get a reading, the X10 has two ways to help ensure you can still read the display. The first way is the probe swivels to 270°, giving it a wide range of movement. If that’s not enough, the thermometer comes with a “hold” button. So once you’re sure you’ve got the probe in the correct space, you can lock that reading in with the button next to the display so you can remove the probe and bring the display back to a spot that’s easy to read without losing the temperature.

The Finaltouch X10 runs off two AAA batteries and ChefsTemp says it can last for 3000 hours of usage. You have to love an easily-replaceable battery that doesn’t require replacing very often. 

Another nice feature of the Finaltouch X10 is that it’s magnetic. You don’t have to worry about losing it in a drawer and sliding out of sight right when you need it most. I’ve put mine on my exhaust hood over my stove or stuck it on the side of the hopper for my pellet grill. It’s a small touch, but believe me, it’s a nice one.

Check out our full review for more information on the ChefsTemp Finaltouch X10. 

What We Like…

  • Large, easy-to-read display regardless of lighting conditions
  • The combination of the range of rotation on the probe arm and the Hold button makes it easy to see the reading no matter where you are trying to get it
  • Magnet allows you to store the thermometer in easy-to-reach places without worrying about it getting lost in a drawer

What Makes Us Angry…

  • It does not come with an NIST-Traceable Certificate of Calibration like the Thermapen ONE or FireBoard Spark.


ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2

ThermoPop 2 Best Budget Instant Read Thermometer

There is no question that of all the instant read meat thermometers on this list, the ThermoPop 2 is the most unique-looking. The other four are variations of a design with a swivel probe. The ThermoPop 2’s probe does not swivel. Instead, it comes straight down from the body of the thermometer. Thankfully, ThermoWorks has a protective sheath that matches whichever color you’ve chosen for your ThermoPop 2 to protect the probe for easy storage. 

The ThermoPop 2 is firmly in the value pick slot on this list, but make no mistake. ThermoWorks made a darn good instant-read thermometer and gave users plenty of bang for their buck. The screen is quite large and the digits take up most of the screen, meaning you’ll be able to read it easily. If you’re grilling in the dark, you can turn on a backlight to make sure you’ll be able to read just fine. The display is even auto-rotating so you can put it at whatever angle you need and still read the display.

The ThermoPop 2 might not be as accurate as the pricier models on this list, but it’s accurate up to 1°F and has that NIST-Traceable Certificate of Calibration. It will give you an accurate reading within two to three seconds, right in line with the Javelin Pro Duo. The ThermoPop 2 also boasts an IP67 rating so it can take a quick, accidental swim and still survive to take temperatures another day. 

Yes, the ThermoPop 2, quite a fun-looking instant read thermometer, packs more features than the Classic Thermapen from the same company at a pretty low price point for instant read thermometers.

Most grillers and pitmasters will want the 4.5-inch probe model, but for people who need to monitor liquid temperatures like home brewers and the like, ThermoWorks does sell an 8-inch long probe model as well. 

For a more in-depth look at the ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2, check out our full review

What We Like…

  • Large display that has auto-rotation and a backlight
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Protective sheath protects the probe in a pocket or drawer while also protecting you from being stabbed

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Not so much angry, but it isn’t as fast nor as accurate as the higher-end thermometers on this list. But at this price point? We really aren’t upset at all.


Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo

Javelin Duo Pro Instant Read Thermometer

The Javelin Pro Duo from Lavatools is an instant read thermometer focused on making sure you can see the temperature quickly and easily. It has a large 2” display with an automatic backlight and auto-rotation so you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to see the temperature. If you’re trying to get a reading at the most extreme angle, it has a touchpad that will hold the temperature reading so you can bring the Javelin back to read it.

The Javelin Pro Duo fits more into a middle category in the market. It’s not necessarily in direct competition with the FireBoard Spark or even the Thermapen ONE. Instead it offers a bit lower price point while still having a number of quality features. However, it is not quite as fast or as accurate as the previous models on the list. It takes about 2 to 3 seconds to get a reading and is accurate to within 0.9°F. For most applications, this is still plenty fast and accurate. You’re not going to serve undercooked chicken nor scorch your hand using this thermometer. Plus, Lavatools designed the Javelin Pro Duo to beep audibly when the temperature is stabilized, meaning you know you’ve got the actual temperature.

The Javelin Pro Duo has a long battery life with Lavatools claiming it can run for 4000 hours on a single CR2032 button battery. It’s made from polycarbonate and is certified to meet the National Science Foundation guidelines for food safety. It is IP65 certified meaning it can withstand the stray splash of water without its electronics failing. 

What We Like…

  • Large auto-rotating display with a backlight to make reading the temperature as easy as possible
  • Touchpad for locking in the temperature reading makes it easier to get readouts on hard-to-see areas
  • The audible beep lets you know when you’ve got the right temperature locked in

What Makes Us Angry…

  • Slower that the other thermometers on the list so far as well as less accurate
  • Curved body is not suited to left-handed people


7. ThermoPro TP-03 Instant Read Thermometer Review

If you’re looking for a low-cost, no-frills instant-read thermometer, the ThermoPro TP-03 is a great option. It’s accurate within 0.9°F which is plenty accurate for taking the guesswork out of cooking chicken breasts, steaks, or burgers. You’ll get that accurate temperature reading within five seconds which is fine for its price point.

The probe itself is a swivel design like the vast majority of thermometers on this list. However, rather than simply pulling the probe away from the body of the thermometer to turn it on, THermoPro designed the TP-03 with a button release. The thermometer body has a large temperature readout with a backlight so you can see the readings no matter your lighting situation. It also has a hook for hanging on your tool hooks on your grill or in your kitchen and magnets on the back for easy storage no matter your situation.

If you’re not a fan of button batteries, ThermoPro has you covered as the TP-03 runs off a single AAA battery. Overall, the TP-03 is an easy-to-use thermometer that may not have the high-end features of some of the thermometers on this list but delivers consistent results at a price point that anyone who wants to ensure proper internal temperatures can afford. You can also rest easy that you won’t have to worry about replacing it as ThermoPro has a standard one-year warranty that is upgraded to a three-year warranty when you register the thermometer online at no extra cost.

What We Like…

  • Large backlit display
  • Magnetic back and hook for multiple easy storage options
  • Low price point makes quality temperature monitoring accessible for everyone

What Makes Us Angry…

  • No auto-rotating display
  • Slow temperature reading compared to higher-end thermometers


Final Thoughts

The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE is our pick for the best instant read thermometer on the market. It is packed with features including an auto-rotating display and a sensor for the backlight. It feels great in the hand and delivers quick and accurate temperature readings. If you’re looking for more of a budget pick, we recommend the ThermoPop 2, also from ThermoWorks. It delivers quality results and some surprising features in a little, more inexpensive package.

So what is your go-to instant read thermometer? Do you have one from this list? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re looking for some other grilling essentials, take a look at our list of the Top 10 Grill Accessories every backyard grillmaster needs.

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageTop PickTop PickThermapen One
  • Less than 1 sec Readings
  • Most Accurate
  • Rotating Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageRunner-UpRunner-UpTyphur InstaProbe
  • Readings in 0.75 sec
  • OLED Display
  • Magnetic Holder
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageMost VersatileMost VersatileFireboard Labs Spark
  • 1 sec Readings
  • WIFI/Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Large Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageHonorable MentionHonorable MentionChefsTemp Finaltouch X10
  • 1 sec Readings
  • Affordable
  • Large Display
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBest BudgetBest BudgetThermoWorks ThermoPop 2
  • 2-3 sec Readings
  • Large Backlit Display
  • Compact
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageLavatools Javelin Pro Duo
  • 2-3 sec Readings
  • Backlit Display
  • Magnetic
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageCheap Like BorschtCheap Like BorschtThermoPro TP03
  • Cheap
  • It Works
  • Did I Mention Cheap?
CHECK PRICE

FAQs:

Question: How Can I Tell If My Digital Thermometer Is Accurate?

Answer: As noted earlier, one of the easiest ways to test your instant read thermometer is by checking boiling water and a glass of ice water. Water boils at 212°F (100°C,) at sea level, you need to adjust your boiling point temp based on your elevation, so your thermometer should be within a degree or so of that. Omni has an easy calculator to determine your boiling point based on elevation.

Water turns to ice at 32°F (0°C,) so you’re looking for a temperature within a degree of that. Thankfully, a variance of one degree is perfectly fine for the vast majority of cooking applications.

Question: What Is The Most Accurate Way To Use A Digital Thermometer?

Answer: All the talk about the accuracy of an instant read thermometer goes out the window if it isn’t used properly. You typically want the tip of the thermometer’s probe to be in the exact center of the thickest part of the meat you’re cooking. However, you do not want the probe to end up in a pocket of fat or against the bone if it’s a bone-in cut because either of those things can drastically affect your temperature readings. If your probe is too close to the surface, you’ll get a much hotter reading as well. 

Question: Do Professional Cooks Use Thermometers?

Answer: Absolutely. Alton Brown, a long-time Food Network personality, recommends the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE on his personal website. Steve Raichlen, a well-known barbecue and grilling personality, can be seen using instant read thermometers in some of his videos. You will also find instant read thermometers in professional kitchens because food safety is paramount.

Question: How Fast Should Instant Read Thermometers Be?

Answer: When it comes to the speed of an instant read thermometer, the faster the better. Whether you’re checking the temperature of something cooking on the stove or perhaps a steak over a hot grill, you don’t want your hands dealing with searing heat for very long. You also don’t want a slow thermometer leading to a steak or chicken being overcooked either. A thermometer that has a response time of two to three seconds is okay, but a one-second response time is ideal.

Question: Is the Thermapen Discontinued?

Answer: ThermoWorks is still producing new Thermapens, the ONE and the Classic included. The MK4 was discontinued shortly after the ONE was launched. If you were a fan of the MK4, you might find yourself asking if the Thermapen ONE is better than the Thermapen MK4, and the answer is a definitive yes. The ONE improved the backlight’s sensitivity and brightness while also making replacing the battery easier as well. Perhaps the biggest improvements were the speed of readings (down to one second) and accuracy (within half a degree Fahrenheit.) ThermoWorks also improved the warranty to five years on the ONE. 

Question: What’s The Difference Between The Classic Thermapen And The Thermapen ONE?

Answer: While both Thermapens look quite similar, the ONE has a number of technological upgrades that make it perform better. Its one-second response time is at least twice as fast as the Classic while also improving accuracy from 0.7°F (0.4°C) to 0.5°F (0.3°C.) Then the ONE has an upgraded display with auto rotation so the numbers are always facing up and a light sensor-controlled backlight. Also, the ONE runs off a AAA battery with 2,000 running hours versus the Classic’s 1,500 hours courtesy of two button batteries. Then you factor in the five-year warranty versus the Classic’s two-year warranty, and the ONE is superior in just about every aspect.

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