Projection: Ultra-HD Perhaps a Decade Away

Even as HD continues to grow its footprint across North America, Asia and Europe as it marches to inevitable ubiquity, there's a possible next step in HD. This is a technology that promises several times the video/audio quality available with today's HD, and it may only be 8 to 10 years away.

Noting increased speculation over what could be in the next-best-thing department when it comes to HD--Ultra-High Definition--market researcher In-Stat did a bit of speculating of its own and predicts that UHD in the United States likely will not reach a "critical mass of five percent household penetration" until perhaps near the end of the next decade (2017 at the earliest).

The study concludes that with UHD debuting in the marketplace during the next five to 10 years or so, there's an interval of several years for technology companies, manufacturers, service providers and media companies "to experiment with business models and strategies to make UHD a strong business in the long term."

Still, even predictions that appear to be conservative in the short run on emerging technologies tend to be far too optimistic in the long run--at least, when it comes to HD, Blu-ray Disc, and other technical breakthroughs that must achieve mass consumption levels to be deemed successful commercially.

UHD formats can provide at least four times the resolution of Blu-ray (1080p), as well as up to 22.2 surround sound channels.

In-stat, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., predicted that American broadcasters would ultimately start offering UHD content to an "addressable market of UHD TVs" between 2017 and 2022.