Re: The road ends eventually.
" will your television carry the brute force needed to handle newer, tighter codecs? "
Spot on. I remember the first HD DVB-T2 trials in London where participants were sent new receiver boxes, back in 2006/2007. The channel "BBC HD" was broadcast from Crystal Palace.
I wasn't a participant, but it was perfectly possible to capture the raw data signal on a PC capture card, it just couldn't natively decode the exotic new MPEG-4 data stream. I managed to get the signal to decode, but couldn't manage it on my reasonably well-specced PC in real-time, it probably transcoded at around 10fps. My current TV is older than this trial, so definitely wouldn't be able to handle MPEG-4 with a mere firmware upgrade.
Similarly, when DVD first launched, PCs at the time needed an MPEG-2 add-on card as the required decoding wasn't possible in software-only due to the limits on CPUs grunt at the time.