No 'Zune' jokes, please

Neil Young has been working on his own digital music format and player for a while and has just announced details. Originally called "PureTone," the company is now called Pono and promises "the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who wish to experience music the way the artists intended, with emotion, detail and power intact."

What that entails is a new lossless music format and also its own portable high-resolution digital-music player (pictured above) that holds 128 gigs of music, which comes out to "about 100-500 high-resolution digital-music albums, depending on the resolution and length of the original recording." You can use memory cards for additional music. There's also an iTunes-like Pono interface.

While the lossless Pono format may only appeal to audiophile types, the player might hold some interest for others. One of the biggest criticisms lobbed at the iPod was it's not-very-good internal amplifier and digital-to-analog converter. So if you've always wanted a better-sounding player... this could be it. There are some questions, such as "Will this also play my MP3s?," "Will I have to repurchase albums I already own in other formats," "Can I rip my CDs into the Pono format," "Is there cloud storage?," "Can I play Words With Friends on it?" and "If this all goes belly-up do I get my money back?" Those remain unanswered but you can pre-order your Pono player starting March 15 via Kickstarter.

Some of those questions might be addressed by Neil Young himself who will talk about Pono on Tuesday (3/11) at SXSW.

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