Musical artist Neil Young believes in the power of the portable music player, and not just the one pre-built into your smartphone or tablet. No, he believes that the age dominated by the iPod isn’t quite over, and thinks he has the device’s next great successor: the PonoPlayer, which will make an appearance at SXSW tomorrow, and was leaked via press release today.

The PonoPlayer, whacky name and all, is a $399 triangular prism of a device that’s sole purpose is to play “studio master-quality digital music at the highest fidelity possible.” This will allow owners of the device to “experience music the way artists intended.”

Think of it as the Beats headphones of the digital music player world.

But how does Mr. Young and his crack squad of music visionaries plan to make it happen? Firstly, let’s talk about how the device is planned to work.

Much like the iPod with iTunes, the PonoPlayer is designed to be used with PonoMusic.com, a music delivery service that will offer “the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels.” This means the device will not predominantly use MP3s like common devices, but will instead use the lossless FLAC file format, which is how files will arrive when purchased from PonoMusic.com. These files are also slightly larger than MP3s, given their enhanced quality.

As far as the specs of the device you’ll have in your pocket, it will come with 128GB of internal storage, which can store between 100 and 500 albums of music. The PonoPlayer can also be expanded by memory card, has an LCD touchscreen, and three front-facing control buttons.

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So… how can you get one? Well, like all good things in life, the PonoPlayer will begin its final production stages collecting money on Kickstarter. It will launch tomorrow, allowing interested buyers to snag one at a discounted price.

Look for the official public announcement tomorrow. Oh, and since we have boots on the ground at the show through our Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Weisbein, keep a tab locked to BestTechie for all the latest.


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