HP = Horrible Pcomputers

  By Shamus   May 2, 2007   42 comments

Pixy shares his experiences of using an HP computer.

Let us not forget Ubu Roi and his HP adventures. Steven tells a now-familiar tale about his HP. And I never miss a chance to link back to my own personal trials with the demon-infused box of madness that is HP Pavillion.

The folks at HP really are horrible people. Those machines spread a lot of misery. I can’t say enough bad things about them. What sickens me is that churning out crap for years on end doesn’t seem to have hurt their reputation. I do what I can here to inform people as a low-grade form of revenge, but it’s not like my efforts will ever cause any distress for the people responsible, which is the only thing that would really give me any sort of satisfaction.

2020242 comments. (Insert played-out "meaning of life, the universe and everything" joke here.)


  1. Phlux says:

    I was on a committee (yech)…where we had to pick a computer vendor for my organization. Bids were solicited from all major manufacturers, Gateway, IBM, Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, Sony, Etc… Some were only included because of certain brands. The RFP (request for proposal) we sent was about 20 pages long, asking for solutions for each of our needs (laptops, desktops, tablets, etc…) Dell, Gateway and IBM/Lenovo responded each with around a 100-150 page proposal with good information and details solutions.

    HP sent us back a 5 page price quote and an 800 number to contact their sales office.

    It’s not just home user’s. They can’t even be bothered to deal with customers willing to buy a couple million dollars worth of hardware each year from them.

  2. Kris says:

    You know, they actually make good enterprise systems. However, I quite agree their consumer grade products are atrocious. I’ve spent so many hours fixing friends HP systems so they run decently it’s ridiculous.

    Keep up the good work, maybe they’ll start turning out decent PC’s someday.

  3. Kristin says:

    Ugh, HP. When I first went to college, I was young and naive and bought an HP Pavilion. It locked up on me every ~2 hours – not reliably enough to be able to predict, but often enough to be annoying. I called, they eventually sent me a replacement/upgrade computer. This one didn’t work at all. Meanwhile, since I hadn’t paid for computer access because I had my own, I didn’t have access to a computer at all. In college.
    The replacement for the replacement came. Worked fine for two weeks. Started locking up. Since it was only annoying, and nowhere near as often, I put up with it until my parents wanted a new computer.

    I will never buy another HP product.

  4. Kristin says:

    Forgot to say: Moral of the story!
    “Make friends with the HP worker BEFORE you buy the computer, so you can take his advice and buy a Dell instead!”

  5. GEBIV says:

    I have to say that I’m pretty happy with my HP pavillion laptop. (If I don’t, it might burst into flames)

    Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with any technical support for it. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones.

  6. Corvus says:

    I had some serious HP trials a few years ago with an enterprise laptop. I have never before screamed so loudly or so often at someone on the phone.

    I used to buy and recommend HP printers without question, as I honestly felt they were the best product and worth the money.

    Now, I research and shop around in an effort to avoid giving them any more money.

  7. Dev Null says:

    I’ve got a new Pavillion that I’m fairly happy with – the uninstall-fest only took an hour or so before I could get on with my life. But apparently they learned a lesson from your restore disk problem… unfortunately they learned the wrong one! When I specced mine out I knew I had a lot of database work to do, so I paid extra for a smaller capacity high-speed hard drive. So the machine turns up with 10% of my high-speed drive used up with a restore disk partition? Excuse me? I’m thinking maybe not the allocation of resources I’d have gone with… but noone asked me my opinion on the matter. (And of course I didn’t notice til _after_ I’d done all my software installs, so now its just too much of a pain to repartition.) I’m not saying a restore partition might not be good for some people, but maybe you could have asked me first? It’s not like it would take HP the tiniest modicrum of effort to mass-produce restore disks and include them in the box…

  8. Tyrel Lohr says:

    HP machines have been an absolute scourge, mainly because (at least in this area) the HP/Compaq machines are the only “off the shelf” computers available — so the local yokels end up purchasing them. Then the hilarity ensues, and by “hilarity” I mean “inevitable hard drive crashes”. I hate computers that have all of the recovery software on a hidden partition… who thought that was a good idea?

    I am dealing with one such beast now. After the mess this machine, I don’t think I am going to recommend hard drive replacement on an HP to a client again; just tell them to go buy something else, it would be cheaper.

  9. ShadoStahker says:

    My fiancee bought a Compaq in Jan ’06. It has some bloatware, but not nearly as much as your account. The initial uninstalling was about the same as I had to do on an eMachines computer at work, and took about 1/2 hour.

    The really annoying things, like HP Organize, don’t exist.

    It’s really no worse for this than any other manufacturer now. (Though I’m not too familiar with Dell.)

  10. Shamus says:

    From now on I get “linux” PCs or ones with no OS at all, and then buy a copy of XP to go with it. The price is roughly the same, and there aren’t any nasty surprises.

  11. Lord ZYRK says:

    When I bought my laptop, I thought “There’s no way in HELL I am going to buy a shitty HP like my parents’ computer,” so I buy a Compaq since its hardware is pretty decent and its at the right price. A week later I found out that HP owns Compaq. Fuggin shit. That’s why I’m now saving up to buy parts and build my own computer so maybe I can finally have a PC that won’t suck hard. Seriously people, do not buy HP made computers!

  12. Hal says:

    The problem with this is the mass-production computers. You’ll get this in some form from anyone (though your success with customer service will vary).

    Our first real computer (i.e. ran Windows95) was a Compaq, and it was an absolute nightmare. The hard drive crashed (to the point of having to be wiped clean) if you so much as looked at it wrong. Consequently, I have yet to finish Final Fantasy VII.

    I later bought an HP to go to college with. I saw a lot of the BSOD for a few months, but I blame that more on Windows ME than on the HP tinkerings. They screwed with the networking device, though; that thing still won’t connect to a network via LAN, and I’ve wiped the hard drive.

    We now have an HP laptop and I can’t complain; the thing works flawlessly. I suppose I just haven’t done anything to put it through its paces, but I only bought to have a portable work machine (web browsing, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.).

  13. Telas says:

    A few words of advice from a guy who fixes these things for a living:

    Build your own desktop, and don’t scrimp on components. You will learn enough about computers that the extra money you spend doing so will come back with interest when you realize that the Geek Squad and others overcharge on a nearly-criminal level.

    For a laptop, get a Dell from an Employee Purchase Plan, or from the small business group. Home user support is terrible, and it’s worth a little extra for the support. Buy the complete care warranty, a cracked LCD costs 60% of a new laptop, and one soda spill or dog tripping over a cord can take out the entire thing.

    If you don’t like Dell, get a Lenovo if you’re okay with supporting a company partially owned by the Chinese government. (Lenovo is 49.6% owned by Legend Holdings, which is controlled by the PRC.)

    Sonys are great when they work, but are filled with proprietary stuff, and driver updates tend to break everything related to them. Support is insane from Sony – I’d rather buy a new laptop than call them again. And I don’t like to support a company that spies on its customers.

    Telas (former Dell tech support contractor)

  14. Pixy Misa says:

    Now that I’ve wiped the beastie and installed stock Windows XP, it’s running very nicely. There’s nothing wrong with the hardware, the software, or the price; the only problem is that they fill it with crap and give you no practical way of removing said crap. So I don’t regret buying it; I’m just ticked off that HP go out of their way to reduce the value of their own products.

    (Dell have some nice-looking notebooks at good prices, but after a bad experience with another company, I’ve sworn off buying notebooks unless I can try out the exact same model in the store first.)

  15. Pixy Misa says:

    On the “recovery partition” subject: Bundling a DVD or two costs next to nothing, so I assume that the reason for this trend lies elsewhere. I can think of two reasons: First, that Microsoft offer a better deal if you don’t provide proper install disks (because you’re likely to end up having to buy Windows yourself just to make it work properly); and second, because they’re sick of people losing their install disks and then contacting tech support to ask for replacements (though they could just charge $20 for them and turn it into a profit center).

    I hope one of those is true, because the alternative is that they’re assholes who don’t give a damn about their customers.

  16. Jeremiah says:

    “I used to buy and recommend HP printers without question, as I honestly felt they were the best product and worth the money.”

    That’s wierd, as I’ve always had terrible experiences with HP printers. Every one I’ve seen prints a little, then pauses, prints a little, repeat. On the other hand, I’ve always had fabulous success with Canon printers.

    As far as computers, I’ve never heard anything good about HP, Compaq, or Gateway. And I’m hearing more and more negative comments about Dell (the University here uses Dell almost exclusively and the company my girlfriend works for does as well). Although, I have to admit, my very first computer was a Packard Bell, and truth be told it did pretty well by me. After that I started building my own.

    Then, in the last 5 years I’ve bought 2 Alienware desktops (the most recent a year and a half ago), which I’ve been extremely happy with; it’s nice building my own system sometimes, but on the other hand it’s nice to have someone else build it and benchmark every last component; and they’re pretty. And I’ve recently bought a Toshiba Satellite laptop that I’m very happy with so far.

    Oh, and for Sony, my girlfriend has a Sony Vaio laptop that’s over 3 years old that still runs really well; she had less trouble using it for work than the Dell desktop at the office.

  17. Justin says:

    The best thing about HPs is that they aren’t Packard Bells (or eMachines).

  18. Pixy Misa says:

    That’s wierd, as I’ve always had terrible experiences with HP printers. Every one I’ve seen prints a little, then pauses, prints a little, repeat.

    In the good old days, HP laser printers were built like tanks, even the cheap ones. I have a Laserjet 4M that still works perfectly. I replaced it recently with a Brother printer because it’s faster and half the size. And one tenth the price of the 4M.

  19. Coarse.Sand says:

    I’ve had a Compaq r4000 for two years now and I can list enough problems to hopefully dissuade anyone else from buying HP’s products.

    1) The DVD-R/CD-R combo drive started to fail within months
    2) The primary of two fans in the computer stopped working around the same time, making the other fan speed up and create a horrible buzzing noise.
    3) About 8gb of my 100gb hard drive is taken up with a restore partition, which unfortunately I don’t have the knowledge to remove.
    4) The computer has required a format of the drive every five months to make it function again.
    5) Recently, I discovered that the Xpress 200m chip in the computer doesnt support the OpenGL API.

    The last of these problems really annoys me. When I bought the laptop I made sure to read reviews and do my research (or so I thought I had). One of the reviews I read was from a design student who thought the laptop would be enough to suit his needs. I also tend to use CAD programs so I thought it would also suit me, and since I game a bit I made sure to check the GPU. I knew it was going to be mediocre and I was ready to accept this since it was a notebook, but HP actually listed it as being a gaming platform. I wish I hadn’t been suckered in by that.

    I recently tried Blender on a few other computers, and wanted to bring it over to my notebook. Blender is an open 3D modelling program that operates under the GNU, and whose interface is entirely made with OpenGL. Great. Upon opening Blender, I’m lucky the whole laptop didn’t just crash. Instead, I got treated to the worst GUI ever. The OpenGL support in this supposed gaming laptop is so bad that the interface of Blender will actually stutter. In fact, it also screwed up my mouse control as a side effect.

    Just as proof that HP did at one point say this was a gaming laptop, I’ve been able to track down almost the same text as HP had in its product information for the r4000 when it was being sold.

    “Built-in DirectX™ 9.0 and OpenGL™ graphics for gaming

    The ATI Radeon Xpress 200M offers an integrated ATI Radeon graphics core, that is a derivative of Radeon X300 PCI Express technology designed for DirectX 9.0 and OpenGL compatible games. It offers high-performance graphics, unleashing the competitive power you need for playing the latest game titles on your notebook.”

    Yeah right HP. You keep digging your hole, while I go spend the exact same amount of money as I did on your pathetic notebook making my own custom desktop. With about six times the power of the r4000 of course.

  20. Kortir says:

    I dunno, I’ve owned two HPs (refurbished, at that) and both worked quite well. Had an HP laptop that was solid as a rock for most of my high school years (and I sold to my sister when I left for college), and a desktop that I used for five years and still own- it’s now my server/backup since I saved up enough cash for a custom-built.

    I guess everyone’s experience is a bit different. For me, the only comp problems that I’ve ever had consistantly have been with Dell. Would you believe my dad had to return two different lemons before they gave him a working computer?

  21. Marmot says:

    Even though my knowledge of PCs/laptops/tablets/OSs is rather basic, I can emphasize with those troubles. Just as I was reading this text an amusing quote from you came to my mind:

    “I had the knowledge required to clean off the machine and make it perform as it should, but I’m far from the average user. I’ll bet there are still hundreds or perhaps thousands of people out there right now who have simply accepted that part of the boot-up process is closing HP Organize, and the picture viewer. They are used to seeing a half-dozen blinking icons in their system tray. Icons about which they know nothing, which they have never used, and which have been needlessly clogging up the works since day one.”

    – my mother has a HP too, and it behaves more or less yours, excluding the HP organize. Reading your tale, heh, it’s not hard to recognize “used to seeing half-dozen blinking icons in their system tray”. I hope that can be changed one day, either by learning more about dealing with crapware, or driving HP bakrupt

  22. I’ve been using their enterprise systems for years and have been very, very pleased with the ones I’ve gotten and the way our node works. The poster who noted that they did an excellent job on enterprise systems had it right.

    As for their bids, thousands of machines, but short and simple.

  23. Eltanin says:

    Telas, thanks for the run-down. That was very helpful. I’m not in the market to purchase another computer anytime soon (newly purchased house = no new toys and eating paste at home), but I’m always scheming about the next one.

    I currently have a Dell laptop (XPS Gen 2) which was a complete and total nightmare to get. The first XPS failed on me and I spent the better part of 9 months wrangling with Dell about it. Ultimately I got the e-mail address of the poor bastard in tech support over in India. That’s when I sent an e-mail out to 25 of my friends and asked them to send him an e-mail saying “I’ve heard about the terrible experiences with customer support that my friend has been having. I’ll be watching to see how you resolve this issue so that I can decide if I ever want to purchase another Dell computer again.” Long story short, it seemed to work. However, the thought of dealing with Dell “Customer Care” ever again gives me the shudders.

    So I understand exactly the feeling behind Shamus’ post about HP. I hadn’t heard that about their computers. Makes it so that a guy doesn’t know [i]which[/i] mega-corporation to buy a computer from!

    So thanks for reaffirming my desire to build my own Telas. When that time comes (just as soon as that mortgage payment eases off – in 30 years) I’ll come here and beg for more crumbs of wisdom about components.

    Cheers, all.

  24. Zack says:

    Recently I needed to get a high end gaming rig. I looked at a dozen sites including alien-ware but an alienware rig would have run me 4-5 grand for a machine that was not sitting right on the price performance curve. (at the time they had a performance liability they have since fixed, so I won’t bring it up.)

    I found visionman while searching for alternatives (www.visionman.com) and there I made a machine customized to my needs for under 2 grand. (took base model, upped bus speed, added faster memory, used a set of raid drives instead of one fast drive, and decreased CPU slightly to get a high performing machine for half the price of the alienware model and threw in a Nvidia 8800 card while staying under 2k.) I was shocked I could get so much for so little. A full alienware machine could beat me in raw benchmarks, but this thing crushes the need of games by so much I don’t care… and in two years I can buy another box for less than the alienware kit would have set me back.

    For my needs Visionman was great. I would wait for them to work out a few bugs in their order tracking system (they switched right as I ordered and their online order status never updated, I had to call for updates) but I got a sweet machine for the price. I don’t know anyone with a better machine in my area.

  25. Roxysteve says:

    Interesting.

    BTW, there are only three companies making laptop motherboards now, two of them Chinese. I was told during (another) service call on a Dell Inspiron that the case was made by one of the three (Chinese) case manufacturers in the world. T’would seem that the odds are that if you own a laptop it has been largely if not completely manufactured in The People’s Republic of China.

    I have owned a Compaq since ’02. No hardware has ever failed. The system has had to be restored twice though, once becuase RealPlayer nagware malfunctioned and offed my registry and once because I tried a shareware “replacement” for Norton Ghost. Which nuked my registry.

    I’ve seen two, count ‘em, two BSODs, and one of them was caused by me firing up a game before the interminable boot process finished.

    Finally, I wouldn’t give you a thank you for Dell lap tops. I had one almost completely replaced (in stages) under warranty for a friend, and the damn thing ran for 18 minutes before cooking some semiconductor or other. I like fried chips, but I like ‘em on a plate with a fillet of cod, not in an expensive yet short-lived computer. Replacement motherboard and video card, both now so much scrap. Add to that the recent spate of LCD problems Dell purchasers are experienceing and the less-than stellar Dell help they are getting and I can’t see why anyone would buy from them.

    As always, informative and useful comments.

    Thanks everyone.

    Steve.

  26. Roxysteve says:

    I meant that last comment, by the way. I wasn’t being snippy. Like I realised it sounded after I clicked “Submit”. Honest.

    Steve.

  27. neminem says:

    I’m not defending their desktops at all, but I will say this. For the longest time, I had been a huge fan of laptops from Fujitsu – they’d always had exactly what I was looking for, every time I needed a new laptop, and for the cheapest prices anywhere. Well, a year ago, I was once again looking for a laptop, and for the first time, they didn’t have anything near what I wanted. Guess who did, and for cheap? HP. And really, I haven’t had any regrets about the laptop I ended up buying (a dv8000t, if you were wondering).

    Ok, yeah, the amount of crapware that comes with it, that was pretty sad – Fujitsu never insulted their customers like that. But really, that’s just a couple hours of work removing it all.

  28. wumpus says:

    Heh.

    I mostly use Macs at home, and, uh, don’t have much in the way of trouble…

    After Microsoft bought VirtualPC and turned it into bloatware, I built my own basic PC for about $300 and used my former VirtualPC copy of XP on that. A few minor hitches in getting it all put together (the serial ATA bus didn’t seem to work, so I swapped that drive to my brother for a vanilla ATA one), but no worries, really, since then. It’s obviously not a gaming machine, but it does everything your average user needs: email, browser, Orifice, etc. $300 + XP.

    And then there’s my laptop: a MacBook. Thanks to Boot Camp, it now can boot to either Mac OS 10.4 or to XP, and seems quite stable running either. I don’t know how the price compares to PC laptops, but you can certainly get a MacBook for under a grand these days, and my new ‘OEM’ copy of XP SP2 was $85.

    Returning to the topic: Yeah, my last HP/Compaq at work was loaded with crap. And when it crashed (Probably my fault – never install prototype drivers on your dev box!), the easiest way to recover it was to buy a new drive, but even then, some of the drivers never worked quite right again. Yuck.

    Alex

  29. I’ve had the opposite experience. We used HP workstations here (and still use HP servers) and they were virtually trouble free.

    Especially in regards to Dell and Gateway. We got a shipment of around 150 dells–of which number half had to have their motherboards replaced. We’re currently using Gateways–and don’t get me started. Worst computers ever.

  30. Matt` says:

    Never had the “experience” of owning anything from HP, but I’m writing this from a Dell laptop.

    Its had a few problems (they happened in very quick succession so at one point the CD drive was non-functioning, Windows was falling apart and the power cable had a break in it somewhere along the line) but it all got fixed under warranty (except the Windows bit – I fixed that with the hidden restore partition thingy, not the best solution but it made it work again afterwards)

    Sat downstairs is the desktop I assembled myself. Much nicer on all fronts, so far only a few issues, all caused by me poking something I should have left alone :wink: The only one still outstanding is getting Java to install – keeps telling me it “encounters a problem when trying to rename/delete a certain file” then it undoes everything and I’m left with no Java :(

    Oh, and the driver disc with a new video capture card is fucked, but the support case for that is only just beginning (only one email back from them so far, awaiting the next)

  31. Telas says:

    Steve – no problems; everyone’s had different experiences. During the “P4-mobile” years (C640, etc), I wouldn’t buy a Dell, either. Too hot, too much power used, too slow.

    FWIW, I live in Austin, and a number of my friends work for Dell. Their current support woes are entirely self-inflicted; they’re working to fix them, but nothing that big moves quickly. Now if they could just design a small system with an internal optical drive…

    And I’m okay with components made in China; I just am a bit leery with buying the entire thing from them. Everyone’s got to pick their spot on this, as well.

    Cheers,

    Telas

  32. Cadamar says:

    This is why I built my machine myself with hand-picked components. It’s really not that hard. I’ve only bled on it twice and it’s only burst into flames (literally) once (not my fault, power surge damaged the motherboard).
    Then you install a clean OS on it. No bloatware, no adware, no wacky tools, everything exactly the way you want it.
    It’s beautiful.

  33. ngthagg says:

    I’m glad that I’ve learned how to build my own computer. My first build had a few issues (with an ATI graphics card and a Sony DVD drive), but since my most recent upgrade I’ve been running problem free for months. The best part is that my computer can run anything I want it to run, and it cost me less than a comparable pre-built computer.

    Happiness is a clean computer.

    ngthagg

  34. Rustybadger says:

    Give up on Wintel boxen and get a Mac.

    Ok, I am being a BIT facetious there – I know OSX isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (especially gamers, which it seems most of us here are.

    Regarding the HP debate, I would NOT buy their laptops, period. hell, I’d buy a frakin’ ACER before an HP. Same for their desktops. SUCKfest, plain and simple. On the other hand, we’ve been experimenting with tablets for some of our teachers (I work for a School District), and the HP TC-series wins hands-down. Price/performance ratios kick all other contenders’ asses. Toshiba? Poor performance, mega-bloatware, and not available in 12″ format. IBM Thinkpad? HUGE $$, and I think we got two lemons in a row (great customer service, though – they sent both replacements to us fast. Too bad they both sucked bag!) Acer? Horrible ergonomics, heavy, and a crappy screen (but to make up for it, the Acer performs like a Ferrari – screaming fast, and it has 256MB of nVidia graphics RAM, so I can play Battlefield 2 on it full-res). The HP, on the other hand is sturdy, reliable, lightweight, with a nice non-glare screen and great battery life. Its wireless has fantastic range, as well.

    I think that a few of the commenters’ experiences would show that each manufacturer has their weak and strong points. I am totally with Shamus in that I too vehemently encourage people to stay away from certain brands or vendors based on their lousy track record of keeping me happy.

    Aside from my Macbook Pro, I build all my PCs, since I don’t trust any of the corporate mills to use quality components (and because I can do it WAY cheaper that way!). Not only that, but the warranty on components is often better than on systems (ie, the standard warranty on a Dell system is 1 year. But if you buy an OEM hard drive, you get anywhere from 1 to 5 years of protection from the manufacturer). Plus, like everyone seems to agree on, I can avoid all those bloatware headaches that come with a PRC box.

  35. Pixy Misa says:

    I’d buy a frakin’ ACER before an HP.

    My last notebook was an Acer. It SUCKED.

  36. Dan says:

    Hmm. I’m running an HP dv900t notebook, have been for almost a year now. I’m a mad installer/uninstaller of free and open source software, constantly messing with my OS, and am now running a dual boot of XP Pro and Ubuntu Linux on it.

    I’ve never had a single problem with it. Most of the time when I read rabid comments about how “bad” a particular brand/computer is, it’s a lot of people that did something stupid and want to blame their lack of computer knowledge on the computer itself. Or they say stupid things like “Windows broke so my HP computer sucks”. I won’t explain why saying that is …not…smart.

  37. Marty says:

    Back around 2000, I was technical staff in an office that consisted solely of HP Vectras.

    I wasn’t inclined toward HP to begin with, but after dealing with them for a few years, I definitely would never buy an HP product other than a printer again.

    Of course, being a Mac user, I don’t have to pick Windows vendors very often, but occasionally in my day job I need to spec out a machine. Of course, where I work now is mostly HP, but at least I don’t have to maintain them in my current position.

  38. Zaghadka says:

    Back in the late 90’s, we had to service a bunch of new Pentium II machines by HP called the “Kayak.”

    I often muttered that it was “just like a real kayak: sleek, fast and totally unstable.”

    Nobody got the joke. I hope y’all appreciate it. HP sucks. :^P


    Zag

  39. bobby says:

    hp sucks . thats all i have to say. i just got a hpdv9000t and it has hardware faults. im getting a replacement but im afraid that they all suck .

  40. Cory says:

    Well I bought a Hp dv6000 and it works great!!!! I love it!!!! i also got a free good hp priter pith it…it was awesome

    Invest in Hp

    _
    Cory

  41. Hp destroyer says:

    Good luck with that dv6000… it has a warranty extension according to the HP website but when you call India for customer service they will deny it exists. I hope this company eventually gets the punishment it deserves.

  42. NBSRDan says:

    I don’t understand where all this HP hatred comes from. I have an HP computer and it works fine – that is, I have a computer with a Seagate hard drive, NVIDIA graphics card, Intel processor, and HP case. HP makes very good cases.

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