28
Oct
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A few weeks ago, we took a look a the BLU Life Play, which was our first foray with a BLU device. It's an impressive device that keeps the costs down by cutting corners in all the right places, which of course made me interested in other BLU devices, so the company sent me its newest handset, the massive 5.7-inch Life View. Internally, it's basically the same as the Life Play, but externally it couldn't be more different. It features a more refined aesthetic – whereas the Life Play seems more whimsical and "fun," the Life View is more "professional." The massive screen is beautiful to look at, and the overall build quality is absolutely fantastic. In short, I am once again impressed with what BLU has to offer for less than $300 (the Life View is $290).

Let's jump in.

The Life View and Life One are essentially the same device, with the primary difference being in screen size: the Life View has a 5.7-inch display, where the Life One has a 5-inch panel. While this review is of the Life View, everything said here can also be said about the Life One. Thus, if you're in the market for the One, this review essentially applies to it as well.

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Specs
  • Display: 5.7-inch 1280x720 IPS with BLU's "Nex Lens" and "Infinite View" technologies, Corning Gorilla Glass 2
  • Processor: 1.2GHz Mediatek quad-core Cortex A7, PowerVR Series 5XT GPU
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB on-board
  • Cameras: 12MP rear shooter, 5MP front camera
  • Ports: microUSB 2.0, dual-SIM slots 
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2G 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/1900/2100, HSPA+ 42Mpbs
  • Network compatibility: AT&T, T-Mobile (May be 2G only in some areas) in the U.S.
  • Battery: 2600mAh
  • OS: Android 4.2.1
  • Dimensions and Weight: 161x82.5x8.9mm, 220g
  • Price: ~$290 contract-free
  • What's in the box: BLU Life View, silicone case, screen protector, microUSB cable, AC Adapter, and BLU wired earbuds
  • Available colors: White
  • Where to buy: Amazon, Negri Electronics

The Good
  • The display. The Life View's display is very, very similar to the Life Play's. In that, I mean it's beautiful, colors are vibrant, and everything is relatively sharp. It does lose a bit of sharpness over the Play, as its screen is one inch larger while keeping the same 1280x720 resolution. Still, it looks great.
  • Excellent build quality. This phone is solid from front to back, top to bottom. The build just screams "quality."
  • Great battery life. This blew me away – I used the Life View for two days before having to hit the charger.  
  • Snappy performance most of the time. Despite having a budget processor and 1GB of RAM, the Life View performs exceptionally well.
  • Mostly stock experience. It's basically stock Android with a few tweaks here and there, most of which are very useful.

The Bad
  • Can be choppy during intense activities, like playing games. It actually performs better than the Life Play, but I didn't notice some lag/choppiness here and there when playing things like Dead Trigger 2.
  • No quick access to Google Now. Dammit, why do so many manufacturers do this? I want quick access to Now, and with so many possibilities for options (how about a double-tap of the home key?) there's no reason this isn't a thing.
  • No LTE Support. Dealbreaker for some, so it gets a mention. I'm personally fine with HSPA/HSPA+, but I'm generally around Wi-Fi so my uses aren't the same as many people.
  • 1GB of RAM. Like with the Life Play, it's not necessarily bad, but it's definitely not good. 2GB would go a long way in the Life View.

Hardware

Build Quality and Design

The Life View is a massive step up from the more fun-living, whimsical Life Play, in terms of both build quality and user interface. It features a far more elegant aesthetic, non-removable aluminum back, and just an overall more polished "adult" look.

The bezel around that massive 5.7-inch display is white, with the 5MP front shooter at top the just beside the speaker. BLU also went with capacitive buttons for the Life View, keeping it in-line with most of their other newer devices.

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The white continues around the sides of the handset, though the volume rocker and power buttons are both made from machined aluminum, with a white strip on top to match the rest of the unit. The sides of the buttons, however, show the aluminum beneath, giving it a very refined, high-quality look. The button-placement makes a lot of sense on the Life View, as power is on the right side just where your thumb should land, with the volume rocker on the opposite side making it easy to hit with your middle finger (granted you're holding the phone in your right hand, of course). The top is where you'll find the 3.5mm headphone hack, and the microUSB charging port is on the bottom.

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The back is divided into three sections, which are separated by thin plastic strips of white. The top part is a removable plastic piece, which is where the SIM card slots are. It's worth noting that both of the Life View's SIM slots are for full-size cards, so if you're currently using a mini or microSIM you'll need to either switch it out or get an adapter. The largest piece of the back is a solid piece of machined aluminum and is non-removable. The bottom piece is also non-removable, but seems to be made of the same plastic material as the top. BLU did an excellent job of blending the plastic with the aluminum here – you can't visually tell the difference between the two. Tangibly, however, there is a noticeable difference.

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The 12MP rear shooter is also found at the top, alongside the "BLU Bright+" LED. BLU claims this delivers better pictures in low-light conditions, but we'll see about that in the camera section. On the opposite side, there are three small copper dots which are used for wireless charging. Unfortunately, the wireless charger that supports this feature isn't yet available – BLU says it should be out next year.

The Life View feels extremely well put together. The overall build doesn't say "sub-$300 phone" at all – it screams quality. In other words, you won't find any creaky, crooked buttons on the Life View. All the seams are flush, even on the single removable piece at the top. If not for the small indention that makes it easier to remove, you probably wouldn't even know that it pops off.

All in all, I'm once again impressed at the quality that BLU is able to put out in such and affordable package.

Display

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Like its tiniest brother, the Life Play, the Life View has a beautiful screen. In fact, the displays are incredibly similar, though I think the Life View's may be a bit less saturated and a tinge brighter. Still, they're almost indistinguishable. Since I covered the Play's display pretty in-depth I'm just going to summarize that here. For a more in-depth look, check out the Life Play review.

Basically, the Life View's display has the amazing color saturation of an AMOLED display, but it's IPS. BLU uses a couple of proprietary technologies it calls Infinite View and Nex Lens to achieve such vibrancy and clarity. This is an IPS panel that looks nothing like an IPS panel. It's gorgeous, and at 5.7 inches, is good for basically anything you throw at it, from games to movies to reading and everything in between.

The one downside some people may find with the Life View's display is that it's "only" 720p. Personally, I think 1280x720 is completely acceptable on a 5.7-inch display, as everything is still sharp and clear, and text is easy to read. At 258PPI it's not breaking any barriers, and while 1080p may be preferred by many, it shouldn't be a dealbreaker.

Sound, Speakers, and Call Quality

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The single external speaker on the device is found on the back close to the bottom. It's loud enough to alert you when getting a call or message, but otherwise it's actually pretty quiet. I used the Life View's speakerphone on a conference call in a completely quiet room and it was almost difficult to hear the people on the other end.

For watching the occasional video it's decent, as long as you do the whole "cup your hand around the back of the device" thing to project the sound back towards your ears. Really, you're just better off using earbuds. Luckily for you, the Life Play ships with some in the box. That's convenient.

Storage

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OK guys, this is going to be hard for some of you to hear: the Life View has 16GB of internal storage and no microSD card slot. I know a lot of folks have issues with the Nexus 4 for this very reason, so it stands to reason that the same rule applies to the Life View. Personally, I find 16GBs to be plenty, but I basically live in the cloud. I definitely realize that's not practical for everyone, so if you like to carry your entire music library, keep 15+ games installed all the time, or need at least five movies with you at all times, this may not be the device for you. If you don't need those things, then you have 16GBs to work with – about 13 of which are accessible to the user.

Camera

So the Life View has a 12MP rear shooter, and it's not bad. Outdoors, color reproduction is bold and vivid, but not oversaturated. Indoors, it's decent – it's definitely nothing to brag about, but it'll get the job done. I found indoor images to be grainy (depending on the subject, of course), but still not quite as bad as some other devices. The five megapixel front shooter is also surprisingly good for snapping selfies, but as you can see, lighting plays an important roll here. Speaking of lighting, low light photos... well, aren't very good. Not the worst I've seen, but they're far from the best. 

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Front camera:

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Low Light:

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With flash, without flash outdoors – not a lot of difference.

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With flash, without flash indoors

Battery Life

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One word: beastly. The Life View may only have a 2600mAh battery, but the fact that it's sporting a MediaTek A7 processor ensures it has absolutely outrageous battery life – I used it for a little over two days without charging. That was streaming music for about 8-9 hours, 4 hours of screen-on time, and two hour-long phone calls. That experience was basically consistent the entire time I've had the Life View. Hands down, it has the best battery life of any phone I've ever personally used. And I've used a lot of phones.

Update: The screen-on time has come into question here because it shows only 2% of the battery was consumed by the screen. Unfortunately the readouts here aren't accurate – it doesn't matter how much I used the phone, Cell standby was always the top process with 25% usage. There was absolutely four+ hours of screen time here.

Software

UI and Features

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While the Life Play uses mostly stock Android, the Life View is basically a bone stock experience with a few enhancements added in here and there. The beauty of it is that you don't actually know these changes are there until you start using the device – on the surface it just looks like stock Android.

For example, if you get a text message, it pops up on the lockscreen, allowing you to unlock directly to the messaging app. Similarly, it also has a popup dialog for texts, allowing you to reply without having to leave the foreground app (this can be disabled if you're not into it).

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One of my biggest complaints with the Life Play is the dialer – it's just weird. Thankfully, this has been basically revamped with the Life View to have a more stock-ish feel. It's still slightly different than stock, but the changes are pretty minimal. The Quick Settings pane is very similar to the Life Play's – it looks stock, but adds many useful toggles over stock Android.

Otherwise, you're looking at basically a stock 4.2.1 experience on a massive 5.7-inch display. There's a lot to like about that.

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BLU also jumped on the gesture bandwagon with the Life View and packed it with some touchless controls. You'll find things like proximity unlock, upset silent, upset speaker, proximity answer, proximity dial, proximity incoming call, and proximity camera snap. Most of these should be pretty self explanatory – you wave your hand in front of the phone to activate the specific task. It's also worth noting that the menu options for these settings say "promixy" instead of proximity. Oops.

I didn't have any issues getting touchless controls to work as advertised, but I still find this sort of thing super gimmicky. For example, to get proximity unlock to work, the display has to be on. If you're going to go through all the trouble of reaching down to hit the power button, you might as well finish the job the old fashioned way and just touch the screen to unlock it. Hitting the physical button and then waving your hand in front of the display is just silly. The same goes for the camera gesture – you already have it open, why not just hit the shutter button? I suppose there's an instance when gestures could be useful... though I haven't been able to find one yet.

Performance

The Life View is packing the same MediaTek processor and 1GB of RAM as the Life Play, and despite having a larger screen, it chugs along just as nicely. This makes sense, because even though the display itself is larger, it's the same resolution as the Life Play's, so the CPU/GPU isn't actually having to work harder to push more pixels.

Since everything is basically the same between these two devices, it stands to reason that the performance is also identical, but that's not actually the case. Perhaps it could be attributed to the somewhat "lighter" interface, but the View is actually quite a bit snappier and more responsive than the Play. In areas where I saw some lag with the Play – like when playing Canabalt, for example – there is none on the Life View. That said, it did show some stutter when playing Dead Trigger 2 when there's a lot going on at once – say, umpteen zombies trying to eat your face. But that was the only occasion when the Life View showed any signs of slowing.

So naturally, don't expect a speed demon. It's not Snapdragon 800 with 2GB of RAM fast, but it's definitely not dual-core processor with 768MB of RAM slow, either. I found that it stayed consistently snappy throughout the duration of use, regardless of what apps were running in the foreground or background.

Conclusion

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Compared to the Nexus 4

Overall, the BLU Life View is an excellent phone given the sub-$300 price point. If you're in the market for an oversized phone but don't want to lock into a two-year contact (or want to go with a pre-paid carrier like Straight Talk), then the Life View (or Life One, as pointed out in the intro) is an excellent choice. It's snappy, well made, and an overall pleasure to use.

During my testing, I actually didn't find any glaring issues with the device or software experience, though there are certain things worth mentioning, like root/ROM/developer support or update timelines. Both things are important to specific users, and should definitely be considered before picking up a device like this. With Android 4.4 around the corner, one has to question BLU's update plans not only for this device, but all others in the Life line – will it get 4.4? If yes, when? These are questions that unfortunately can't be answered at this time. Hopefully BLU realizes the importance of timely updates and can accommodate its users accordingly. Since the View has what is essentially a stock UI, hopefully this isn't something that's too difficult to achieve.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • h4rr4r

    Is the bootloader unlocked?

    • Mandeep Singh

      Yes

    • psychoace

      There is no source code though since Mediatek likes to keep their source locked.

      • h4rr4r

        Why are they not being sued?
        Sounds like a GPL violation to me. I would be more than willing to buy one for a kernel dev if that is what it takes.

      • Ryley

        Mediatek has always been a "screw you" company, so this is no surprise.

  • Harsha

    Where to get that wallpaper and icon pack which is shown in Nexus 4?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      The icons are from the Tiny White icon pack and the wallpaper is from the Glasklart pack. Both can be found on Google Play.

  • http://androidandme.com/ Taylor Wimberly

    These BLU devices would be much more attractive if they killed the Menu button or just went with on-screen buttons.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I definitely agree with this.

    • Ursula Wins

      I disagree. I HATE onscreen buttons. HTC & Co for life!

      • hairyback

        I don't hate them, but they are annoying in games, because you end up touching them all the time by accident.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      I disagree.

    • Greyhame

      Or at least go with the stock android arrangement.

    • David Hart

      Eh, I prefer a device like the Nexus 4 with OSD buttons. Coupled with a custom rom, I can choose exactly what buttons I want down there. The phone can also be used upside down too..

      I have my buttons: Recents | Home | Back | Menu

      I know it's slightly redundant to have a menu button, but I don't like to have to look around in an app for it, if it's even there.

    • Disasterpiece

      I totally hate onscreen buttons. That is the main reason I stick to Samsung and HTC devices.

  • Piterson Massenat Desir

    Not sure why the article says it will work well on T-Mobile. It will be stuck on 2G most of the time. It's missing the essential 1700mhz band hence no hspa+ on T-Mobile. That alone should not qualify it as a good T-Mobile phone

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Where does it say it will work "well?" It doesn't. Technically it *is* compatible with T-Mobile.

      Anyway, I added in a note that it's 2G only on T-Mobile.

      • Piterson Massenat Desir

        You're right. my bad. But adding 2G helps clear things up. Not trying to cause any commotion

        • jose

          I have a Blu life play with the 1900 and 2100 bands and get excellent 3g and 4g services.

          • fa

            DO u know how to remove the battery please

          • Shawn

            Not sure is you can. I havent had any charging issues and ive had my Blu Life View for 5 months now. The case is sealed in the back....so I'd keep a real careful eye towards the end of the warranty just in case.

      • http://androidandme.com/ Taylor Wimberly

        Lots of T-Mobile markets (I think 200+?) now have 1900MHz for HSPA+.

  • Milind Shah

    the double tap for google now won't work, as people will get pissed off even more when they are already pissed and trying to smack that home button! many people continuously tap the home button until it reaches to the home.

  • firesoul453

    At first glance I thought it was a GS4

    • bprichard

      That horrifying button arrangement (and shape) will definitely do that.

  • Tuấn Ankh

    I got a BLU Life Play. I'll never buy another BLU phone again.
    - Quad-core doesn't perform like you expect.
    - Takes 20-30 seconds to load up a stage in Riptide GP2. (My old Galaxy S Blaze 4G takes 2-3 seconds)
    - Poor reception. It loses 3G/4G all the time on T-mobile. My mom's unlocked AT&T iPhone 4 (running on T-mobile) gets better signal and higher speed at the same locations.
    - Poor GPS. Most of the time, it doesn't work. It takes forever to lock satellites

    Actually I would get this View if only the GPS were good and the reception were a little bit better

  • blast0id

    BLU's biggest downfall right now is lack of rugged cases available... they really need some rugged cases, I bought a pink life play for the fiancee (her first android smartphone) and even with the included silly case when dropped from her hip height the screen shattered... blu was very easy to deal with though, when getting it repaired and was very reasonable cost wise as well (83.50 + my cost of shipping the device to them).. they also upgraded the phones software while it was there...

  • GraveUypo

    i'm gonna go ahead and just say this phone is probably BETTER than all of the high-end stuff for most people because of the battery life. but people will be people and will never realize that. (assuming you're on a fully supported carrier)

    • psychoace

      There are at least 3 phones right now that have better battery life then this with much much better specs. So I don't think it's even close to being better then any of those high end phones.

  • me

    can we consumers get together and create a movement demanding that production costs will be printing along with selling costs for each product, from food, clothes, to technology?! When confronted with the real production cost, this way people will review their buying habits and think twice, making different choices, and overall this will also bring prices down!!!

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    Is the battery removable?

    Also, has there been any dev support of these devices? CM seems like it is built for a device like this.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Non-removable battery. And I would love to see CM support for Blu devices, but alas, that doesn't exist right now.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

        Gotcha, thanks.

      • psychoace

        Because mediatek is closed source.

  • fonix232

    That magnificent beard was worth reading this article.

    My only thing against this phone is the damn SOC. Why do they use the MTK ones when they are so crappy? Speaking from experience. I'm yet to meet a good Chinese phone with an MTK CPU in it. They just *don't* work well. Replace that with anything else, Snapdragon, Exynos, hell, even Tegra, and I'm already happier.

    Plus the pricetag is a big *!2@#9)(¤! Seriously, 290USD for this? You can get phones with better screen, build quality, more storage, memory, better chipset, for less. Including all import taxes. Of course, just like the Blu phones, they won't even get near the quality and performance of higher level devices.

    And again. Magnificent beard. Must set new wallpaper.

    • Oilersfan74

      Besides the Nexus, name one?

      • fonix232

        Xiaomi Mi2 (if you don't buy it from the overpricing AliExpress/DHGate retailers) for example. But there are a few more devices that are in the 200-250USD pricerange, with better specs. just wander around the internet for a bit...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      haha, thanks!

  • rebranded

    this is just a re branded phablet.all BLU devices are re branded products.don't buy them.

    • psychoace

      I wouldn't say they are rebrands but more like CT China sells the phone in different markets under different brands. They just renamed it and made it marketable to the American market place. It's still a Chinese phone and Blu/CT Miami is just a shell but I would hardly call it a true rebrand.

  • krbmedia

    I'm not seeing the great battery life. I'm also noticing an issue where even if its charged if I leave it sitting overnight I have to reset it to wake it up. And the buttons are at times unresponsive and I did notice the GPS issue. It wouldn't take much to make this kick ass, like a card slot, better chip and removable battery

    • psychoace

      Look at his screen on time. 2% of 48 hours is not even an hour. He barely even used his phone.

      • krbmedia

        Any ideas on my freezing issue and tips to improve battery life? Android newbie.

      • Evan Knofsky

        In the post he said 4 hours of screen on time.

      • Oilersfan74

        Yes, I call bullshit that 4 hours screen time could only add up to 2% battery. When cell standby is the first thing listed you know the phone wasn't used much.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          I added a blurb to the post about that.

  • PamelaLibrarian

    Nice selfies! :-)

  • 血区鸟

    this totally looks like the myphone iceberg!

    • Tuấn Ankh

      Because they are the same phone, only running different software.

  • Ryley

    Nice specs! But.. No Cyanogenmod support means: No purchase.

  • Ryley

    Nice specs! But.. No Cyanogenmod support means: No purchase.

  • Tringal

    my blue life view froze.. how can i rebooth? there is no battery to remove. i took out sim and the screen is just grey now.

  • http://kjevonchambers.weebly.com K. Jevon Chambers

    Help....I can't make updates to applications because I'm out of storage space; how do I move things around in order to do that?

    Also, how do you change to a more personal ring tone as opposed to what was pre-installed?

    • Dave

      If your talking about moving pictures and video and audio recordings to your PC, and add your own mp3 music to your phone for a ringtone !
      The blu life view manual says on page 25 Storage: connect the phone with the USB cable , a connection icon will appear in the status bar. slide down bar and click on connection icon., Once your in the connection mode interface, select USB mass storage and turn it on from the connection screen. Your PC opens a window of your Blu files, go to DCIM folder,move your Pics and videos from the camera folder, Now add your mp3 music to the music file, then turn off USB storage, click music icon, and playlist , then recently added, play your music, click menu button and select Use as ringtone.

  • Papa Smurf

    Please stop with the aesthetics comments on phones. Bikini models are "attractive", not your dang phone. I don't need to be attracted to my phone, duh! Every time they try to make a phone more "attractive" they take functionality away from the user. This phone has no sd card and no removable battery. We don't want an iPhone clone, everybody is trying to get away from that. In the non-contract cell phone purchaser arena, what we want is full user control, not cloud storage. In the cloud storage scenario we sense a future of monthly payments to manage that, so sd cards are far preferable.

  • Dave

    I got this Blu Life view for 250 from staples.com online it does what I need it to do, it's unlocked and I don't get those annoying emergency or Obama alerts, I like the screen size for the drawing apps, the battery is great, a lot of apps will use the battery, the apps that came with the phone start by them selves and reduce the battery , as you can see in this screenshot and then the battery goes up when I stop them manually. I don't need a 1000 apps on my phone, I think 16 GB is plenty, and the menu button is fine where it is, and when people are getting a BCI with newer phones I'll still have this Blu

  • jack

    OK, I am a hardcore fan of the blu life view however..... Me and my wife have been experiencing some technical issues, for example if you do not update your phone you will start to go through memory issue's and freeze up games during play as well. Not to mention it only took like 9 months to finally get a simple case that protects the phone from anything like dropping it. Lately it has been battery issues, if your phone will not turn on or the blu screen is still on. Its the battery!!!! Now my wife's phone is acting up again the three bottom choices are not responding. Over time this phone SUCKS!!! To many technical issues

  • Shawn

    Excellent throrough review! I've had my Blue Life View since this past Dec and am very happy with it. As you said..it's very snappy and quick with the modified 4.2 Jelly Bean. No issues with video or games.

    One big slip I see it the way Blue partitions the internal and "phone" memory. The internal mem is 1GB where apps are installed by default and the 13GB "phone" storage seems arbitrarily tucked on the side where apps need to be transferred to. Hopefully the next update will fix this and the 9sec display dim.

  • Stacie Iline Whitten

    I had my blu life view phone for 1 day and its locked up. If I turn on the phone it stays on the blu screen or restarts but never wrks.

  • Nicolas

    Any update on the 9sec display dim? I would like to get one but I do a lot of Reading and this could be a drawback.

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