Today, Sony is expanding its high-resolution audio push with a no-frills Walkman. The slight little music player weighs just 2.3 ounces, making Neil Young's chunky Pono player look like a brick. High-resolution audio might be a little suspect, but there's no doubt this petite music player is a beauty.
Yes, the new NWZ-A17 Walkman (cool name, Sony) supports all of the fancy lossless codecs you'd expect form a player, but if it's worth your money it'll be because it's got higher quality components than your average phone, like a specially designed amplifier.
The hi-res Walkman has 64GB of built-in memory expandable thanks to a microSD slot. And there's built-in Bluetooth so that you can lose all of the audio fidelity you're paying for with the $300 price tag.
Sony has seriously scaled back its Walkman ambitions from the Android-based prototype is was showing off at trade shows last year. The current device has very simple UI and an a a surprisingly low-resolution 320×240 2.2-inch LCD screen. It's not even touch.
Still, if the explosive popularity of the Kickstarter for Neil Young's Pono music player is any indication, there's a lot of people out there who are interested in buying a standalone music player. Admittedly, the cute little Walkman A17 tickles a little bit of gadget lust in me even if carrying a single-use device feels silly to me.
What's more, I'm skeptical of the high-resolution audio push because it promotes insanely high-rate audio that's simply scientifically useless. We should definitely try to bring back CD-quality, but going above that quality is statistically foolish. But if a new player can get people excited about ditching low-quality streaming files and terrible MP3s, bring it on.