Speculation about Neil Young's super-high-resolution music player has been making the rounds on the Internet for more than a year, but it seems that the musician is serious about the device and that it will be released sometime next year.
According to Young, the Pono player will be playing the best quality of music you can get.
Young recently showed of a rather clumsy prototype design of Pono - whose name stands for righteous in Hawaiian, he said - without demonstrating it. However, new rumors suggest that Young has a functional device and is currently accumulating a music library and licenses for a music store that would hold 192 kHz / 24-bit recordings. Pono will also cover a "digital-to-analogue conversion technology intended to present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions". There is not much detail, but Pono is not vaporware, according to Young, and will be released sometime in 2013.
There is reasonable doubt whether a dedicated music player like Pono can be successful in a time when we expect our mobile phones not just to be music playback devices, but entire entertainment multi-talents that can also play videos and run games that we download from application stores. Music streaming via cellular networks will be out of the question for Pono, given the fact that Young's preferred music format consumes about 300 MB of space for five minutes of audio, which makes the data squeezed into a Netflix SD movie (700 MB) look rather small. Even if you were to use music streaming over a commercial DSl or cable broadband network, you would be brand was an excessive bandwidth user if you were to stream more than 30 songs per day on average. Pono will have to rely on massive local storage that would provide room for about 200 songs in 64 GB of space.