Hah! I remember when the first large flat screens came out for 10s of thousands, and I wondered who would ever buy such an expensive device.
Buyers of these devices won't necessarily want UHDTV over the air or over networks, at least for a while. What we need is an Blu-Ray alliance to come up with a device that can play UHDTV movies. I think there are some things out there but I don't know if anything is standardized yet (something to look for at CES). Certainly, multi-layer Blu-Ray disks can hold enormous amounts of data.
I also love the Romneyvision comment!
I'm with Junko on this one. The form factor (and price) was the number one reason HDTV succeeded, not the content (unfortunately). The majority of HDTV viewers still watch mostly non-HD content on their flat panels, even though so much of it is available. Many can't even tell the difference. The only time they might make the effort to get HD is in live sports and movies. I think most people are satisfied with the picture quality already. In order to really tell the difference, screen sizes have to be 60 inches or larger. At 84-inches, you're talking about a redesign of the American living room (higher ceilings for one thing). I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
I give it ten years. I'm not sure what the median purchased TV size is these days, but I'd venture that it's pretty close to 40". Back in the late '70s/ early '80s, I worked for a place that sold TVs and appliances. The standard big console TV of about 20" cost around $700.00. I delivered and installed those TVs in houses through a wide economic spectrum.
That amount of money today would get you a lot of TV, even if you didn't consider inflation. I don't think cost will be an issue in the long run.
It really depends on the availability of quality content. I've seen some 1080p images so mucked up by over compression that an old CRT could probably have bested it. If 4K comes off like that, then no. It won't take off. But my bet is that it will become the (or a) standard in the not too distant future.
Of course, TVs could take a left turn into a different technological factor and blow my prediction. OLEDs may turn out to have such rich colors and such a wide dynamic range, but be too expensive to produce in larger sizes or higher resolutions. TVs could evolve in that direction for a while.
In case that last point wasn't clear, I'm saying that in principle, "connected TVs" cold be great, and people would love them. The fact that the CE vendors seem to be in bed with the cable systems, making their "connected TVs" ridiculously crippled, is another matter.
Don't think that just because the ones on the market are dismal, this must always be the case.
I wouldn't be quite so negative, and here's why.
HDTV is great. Pretty much everyone (finally) figured it out. And yet, even on small devices, look at the hype "retinal displays" have created. So forget about the narrative that the "average joe" can't tell the difference. Retinal displays are higher resolution than 1080p, and yet average people like this "retinal" stuff EVEN on tiny screens. What does that suggest about UHDTV on more sensibly sized screens, like 50" or less?
All the naysayers were telling us how expensive HD displays would be. Nonsense, I told them. HDTV is meant for the masses, and prices in fact came down to less than fuzzy analog sets were going for, toward the end of their tenure.
What really made HDTV practical, Junko, was not that the FCC mandated "digital." The point was, it was to be spectrum-compatible. Initially, HDTV was envisioned as some pathetic 6 channels exclusively over satellite. But when the FCC required it to fit in a 6 MHz channel, suddenly cable systems and over-the-air broadcasters could carry HD too.
Well, if we're to believe what we're being told, the new compression algorithm called H.265, which is an evolutionary upgrade to H.264, which in turn was an evolutionary upgrade of H.262 (MPEG-2 compression), is supposed to be four times as efficient as H.262. So, unless there is hyperbole there (I wouldn't be surprised), this UHDTV will also be spectrum compatible, potentially available over cable and terrestrial TV just like HDTV is today.
As to internet TVs, since those who knock them also ballyhoo the wonders of Roku or AppleTV, I can only conclude that logic isn't their strong suit.
The same arguments are made with every new technology before it becomes commonplace.
UHDTV will eventually come down in price, and bandwidth will increase to accommodate hundreds of channels.
And at some point we will look back on current technology, as we do now on the first generation of cathode ray TV's and Atari game consoles.