10 Places NOT to Use Your Debit Card  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

Debit cards have different protections and uses. Sometimes they're not the best choice.
1. Online
2. Big-Ticket Items
3. Deposit Required
4. Restaurants
5. You're a New Customer
6. Buy Now, Take Delivery Later
7. Recurring Payments
8. Future Travel
9. Gas Stations and Hotels
10. Checkouts or ATMs That Look 'Off'

Sometimes reaching for your wallet is like a multiple choice test: How do you really want to pay?

While credit cards and debit cards may look almost identical, not all plastic is the same.

"It's important that consumers understand the difference between a debit card and a credit card," says John Breyault, director of the Fraud Center for the National Consumers League, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. "There's a difference in how the transactions are processed and the protections offered to consumers when they use them."

While debit cards and credit cards each have advantages, each is also better suited to certain situations. And since a debit card is a direct line to your bank account, there are places where it can be wise to avoid handing it over -- if for no other reason than complete peace of mind.

Here are 10 places and situations where it can pay to leave that debit card in your wallet:

1. Online

"You don't use a debit card online," says Susan Tiffany, director of consumer periodicals for the Credit Union National Association. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, "you have potential vulnerability there," she says.

Her reasoning: If you have problems with a purchase or the card number gets hijacked, a debit card is "vulnerable because it happens to be linked to an account," says Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center. She also includes phone orders in this category.

The Federal Reserve's Regulation E (commonly dubbed Reg E), covers debit card transfers. It sets a consumer's liability for fraudulent purchases at $50, provided they notify the bank within two days of discovering that their card or card number has been stolen.

Most banks have additional voluntary policies that set their own customers' liability with debit cards at $0, says Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel for the American Bankers Association.

But the protections don't relieve consumers of hassle: The prospect of trying to get money put back into their bank account, and the problems that a lower-than-expected balance can cause in terms of fees and refused checks or payments, make some online shoppers reach first for credit cards.

2. Big-Ticket Items

With a big ticket item, a credit card is safer, says Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. A credit card offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or the purchase, she says.

"With a debit card, you have fewer protections," she says.

In addition, some cards will also offer extended warrantees. And in some situations, such as buying electronics or renting a car, some credit cards also offer additional property insurance to cover the item.

Two caveats, says Wu. Don't carry a balance. Otherwise, you also risk paying some high-ticket interest. And "avoid store cards with deferred interest," Wu advises.

3. Deposit Required

When Peter Garuccio recently rented some home improvement equipment at a big-box store, it required a sizable deposit. "This is where you want to use a credit card instead of a debit," says Garuccio, spokesman for the national trade group American Bankers Association.

That way, the store has its security deposit, and you still have access to all of the money in your bank account. With any luck, you'll never actually have to part with a dollar. (full Story)

Intel's Core i7-980X Launches with a Bang  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Intel today launches its newest processor, the Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, which promises to be the new king of the CPU hill. The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition (codenamed "Gulftown") is Intel's first six-core processor for consumers, more specifically gamers and well-heeled multimedia professionals.
The Core i7-980X replaces the Core i7-975 as the top-of-the-line Intel processor. It costs approximately $999 per chip, which is the same price as the i7-975. (It's therefore no surprise that the Core i7-975 will be going away soon.) The Core i7-980 is truly a "drop-in" replacement, since it shares the same LGA-1366 socket as the i7-975 (and i7-920, i7-960, etc.). You should be able to use the most recent motherboards with an Intel X58 Express chipset; all you'll have to do is flash the motherboard's firmware before you install the chip. The usual suspects will have BIOS updates available on their Websites: Intel, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Foxconn, EVGA, Biostar, etc.
Intel Core i7 980X - Die Map
The Core i7-980X has six cores and comes with Intel's Hyper-threading technology. This means it can work on twelve streams at once. This is a boon for people that need multi-processing, like graphics professionals transcoding videos, or people doing 3D rendering in software (think CGI). Like previous Core i7 systems, the i7-980X has TurboBoost, which can turn off some of the cores and give that power to the remaining cores (if, for example, your photo editing program can only address two cores). It also can "boost" all six cores above the usual 3.33-GHz specs, as long as the CPU cooler can keep up with the heat output. Intel can do this because it builds a large amount of overhead into its chip design, so that its new standard cooling fan can handle the occasional spike in thermal energy. Needless to say, this on-demand overclocking won't be constant, but most of the time a computer is waiting for you, rather than vice versa.

Intel DX58SO - Smackover Motherboard

Another boost in performance is the result of the larger 12MB L3 cache on the processor (up from 8MB on the Core i7-975). The L3 cache is a holding cell for the data the CPU is processing, and more L3 cache means that the CPU has to access the relatively slower DDR3 memory less often. The cache will help speed up single-threaded tasks like gaming, though as seen in our testing, the choice of GPU is still more important to the hardcore gamer..

Not surprisingly, the Core i7-980X will show up on gaming PCs first, like the Maingear Shift and Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i-980X). Well-heeled gamers are exactly the type of consumer who will crave a $6,000+ system with a $1,000 processor and $1,500 worth of graphics cards. Gaming system builders have a lot of experience combining the extra overhead in the CPU's thermal envelope with liquid cooling to bump the stock 3.33GHz clock speed up to as much as 4.3GHz while running heavy loads. The overclocked processors still cool down while idle, so they're not running at full speed all the time.

So, is it worth it? Yes and no. Our performance tests with the Falcon Northwest Mach V and Maingear Shift show a significant performance bump in multi-threaded tasks like CineBench R10 (a doubling of performance from the mid-range Core i7-870). There's also a significant speed bump for the PCMark Vantage test, which is multi-threaded and measures day-to-day tasks. However gaming tests still depend more on the graphics you put into the system, with the credit going to multi-GPU systems rather than multi-core CPUs. The multimedia tests are starting to reach a plateau of diminishing returns: while the scores are still getting faster, having an ultra-fast quad core and SSDs are "enough" for tasks like Windows Media Encoder and PhotoShop CS4. Throwing two more cores at the multimedia tasks won't help at this time. Maybe they will help when Adobe releases CS5; time will tell. (story Link)

Intel Core i7 980X - CPU

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Kingston has introduced new DataTraveler 310 USB Flash Drive with a massive 256GB capacity. This device is better than the 256GB DataTraveler 300, thanks to DataTraveler 310's faster data transfer speeds. This USB Flash Drive is available in India for Rs. 48,380 and is backed by a warranty of five years.
New Kingston DataTraveler 310 can hold up to 54 DVD worth data in its 256GB capacity. It offers read speeds of 25MB/s and write speeds of 12MB/s. While the DT 300 offered read speeds of 20MB/s and write speeds of 10MB/s. Kingston DataTraveler 310's dimensions are - 2.90-inch x 0.87-inch x 0.63-inch (73.70mm x 22.20mm x 16.10mm). This Flash Drive also features Password Traveler software. Using that software, consumers can create and access a password-protected privacy zone.
DataTraveler 310 is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X 10.3 or higher and OSes with Linux Kernel 2.6.1 or above. However, the Password Traveler software works only in Windows platform (Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000).

As mentioned earlier, this new DT 310 also supports Windows ReadyBoost feature. Windows Vista and Windows 7 Essential make use of Flash memory based mass storage system as drive for disk cache and thus can be used as additional memory.
This pricey USB Flash Drive is meant for those who're always on the move and need to take large, critical data on a tiny device. It's a miniature alternative to portable HDD drive in terms of size. (story Link)


Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Following a successful run with the codenamed R700 family of GPUs, which was originally released back in June 2008 as the Radeon HD 4000 series, AMD is launching the highly anticipated R800. Debuting to no one's surprise as the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series, on our test bed today we have a reference HD 5870 graphics card packing some 2150 million transistors and produced on a 40nm process.

The new Radeon HD 5000 series is said to deliver around 2x more performance than previous generation Radeon cards, and brings DirectX 11 support to desktops for the first time. Even while Nvidia is downplaying the latter, AMD sees it as a great advantage and expects DX11-capable games to start shipping before the end of the year.

Nvidia will also support DirectX 11 on future hardware of course, but the way things are going it looks as though we'll still have to wait a few months before their response to the new Radeon HD line arrives.

DirectX 11

AMD's pricing strategy with the Radeon HD 5000 series will be quite interesting too, as for the first time in a long while the company will be looking to take the performance crown from Nvidia. Previous generation ATI graphics cards have been unable to compete with the fastest Nvidia solutions, forcing AMD to heavily discount their products in an effort to deliver better value.

In the end the Radeon HD 4850 was competing with the much older GeForce 9800 GTX, while the Radeon HD 4870 ran somewhat unopposed at $299. At this price point the 4870 delivered an impressive level of performance, though it was overshadowed by improved GeForce GTX graphics cards over the next 12 months.

Radeon HD 5870 board

The new Radeon HD 5870 is in a very different position, though. This time around it looks like AMD is not going to be forced into a pricing war as easily -- at least not yet anyway. So for now the HD 5870 makes its debut with an MSRP of $380, while the Radeon HD 5850 is also arriving today priced at around $260.

This makes the Radeon HD 5870 roughly $120 cheaper than today's undisputable performance champ, the GeForce GTX 295. It also makes it almost twice as costly as the Radeon HD 4890, however, which begs the question: is the Radeon HD 5870 really that much faster? Today we finally get to find out, as we will be comparing AMD's latest and greatest against every single high-end graphics card released over the past year. (Full Story Link)

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