Televisions, Intel in focus at CES ahead of keynote speech
The annual Consumer Electronics Show, where the world's biggest tech companies introduce scads of new gadgets, doesn't officially kick off until Qualcomm's keynote speech Monday night, but there was still plenty of action Monday in Las Vegas before the big speech.
Much of the early attention went to television technology, with the most focus on "ultra HD" televisions, also known as 4K. The new technology offers four times as many pixels as today's HDTVs, which allows users to sit closer to the screen and still enjoy the experience.
LG unveiled its smallest ultra-HD television yet on Monday, a 55-inch set, and Sharp showed off its first ultra-HD computer monitor, which it hopes will compete with Apple's highly regarded Retina display
The new technology, similar to HD's original rollout and the push for 3-D TVs in the past few years, will be expensive at first, with analysts saying it will be years before price tags come down enough for ultra HD to make it into most living rooms.
"It has some potential in the future, but it'll remain a niche, high-end business for a while," NPD analyst Paul Gagnon told the Associated Press.
Televisions weren't the only gadgets showing off new screen advances, as Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei debuted a new phone with a screen larger than any other offered with a resolution higher than Apple's vaunted technology. The Ascend D2 and Ascend Mate devices will launch in China in February, but the company has not made a deal with a U.S. carrier as of yet.
One of Monday's biggest Silicon Valley presentations came from Santa Clara chipmaker Intel, which showed off a new line of low-power microchips and pushed its Ultrabook technology.
Intel announced that Ultrabooks, the company's attempt to push laptops back to the fore of computing, must have touchscreens and that battery life will improve.
"Absolutely all-day battery life where you just don't have to bring your power brick at all anymore," Intel executive Kirk Skaugen touted.
Intel's new low-power microchips were presented as the reason battery life can be extended, as the company attempts to catch up with Qualcomm and other chipmakers that have been focusing on low-power smartphone chips for years. Intel said Ultrabooks will receive its upcoming Haswell processor, and debuted a new line of chips dubbed Lexington, which will be marketed for cheaper smartphones targeted for Asia and Latin America.
Other companies announced smaller, consumer-focused technologies, many of which are focused on popular Apple and Android mobile devices. Dish Network announced its new set-top box would beam live TV to a multitude of mobile devices, even when a user is outside of the home, and recorded TV could be beamed to iPads inside the house; and Lego showed off robots that can communicate through Bluetooth technology with Apple products. Meanwhile, Samsung showed off a camera lens that can shoot in 2-D and 3-D, and Panasonic introduced headphones that send sound waves into a user's skull, helping the hard of hearing.
For coverage of Monday night's keynote address from Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and constant updates from CES, follow the live blog and go to www.siliconvalley.com/ces.
Wall Street settles back down as banks settle foreclosure charges
After hitting five-year highs on Friday, Wall Street dipped slightly on Monday, as banks agreed to pay a total of more than $18 billion to settle complaints about foreclosures during the mortgage crisis.
While the financial services sector of the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.3 percent after news of the banks' deal, other sectors fell harder as investors await the beginning of earnings season. Stocks fell hard in the run-up to earnings at the end of last year, as well, but companies performed better than investors' extremely low expectations.
"It would not be hard for earnings season this time around to turn out better than the last one," Jason Pride, Glenmede's director of investment strategy, told The Wall Street Journal. "Disappointment might not be as widespread, but it could also be a period where earnings guidance moving forward gets pulled back to reality a bit."
The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average suffered the most of the three major U.S. indexes Monday, dropping 0.4 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq had the slightest gains, losing 0.1 percent.
Apple and Yahoo decline, Netflix and SolarCity receive boosts
Silicon Valley stocks also fell Monday, as the SV150 index of the region's largest technology companies declined 0.3 percent.
Apple fell 0.6 percent despite announcing that it had surpassed 40 billion app downloads, with almost half coming in 2012 thanks to a record December. Analysts doubt the company will be able to appeal its way to a Samsung sales ban, and the Cupertino tech giant's leading market cap is now back below $500 billion.
Yahoo, which had been on a strong positive run, declined 2.3 percent after Bernstein Research analyst Carlos Kirjner cut his rating of the stock and a virus seemed to affect scores of Yahoo Mail users.
On the positive side, Netflix (NFLX) soared into the triple digits for the first since April after it announced yet another content deal for its streaming service, though the price settle back down to $99.20 at the close, giving the Los Gatos company a daily gain of 3.4 percent. Newly public solar manufacturer SolarCity had its strongest day since a big first-day pop, as the Redwood City company gained 10.9 percent after Credit Suisse initiated coverage with an "outperform" rating and $22 price target. SolarCity shares closed at $15.97.
Silicon Valley tech stocks
Down: SunPower (SPWRA), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Nvidia, Jive, NetApp, Yahoo, Palo Alto Networks, Yelp, VMware, Applied Materials, Juniper, Splunk, Cisco (CSCO), Apple, Oracle (ORCL), Adobe (ADBE), Google
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 2.85, or 0.09 percent, to 3,098.81
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 50.92, or 0.38 percent, to 13,384.29
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 4.58, or 0.31 percent, to 1,461.89
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.