I might get excited by this if it wasn't another person pushing for insane 24 bit audio. It is unnecessary and effort that could be instead pushed towards getting people to appreciate ordinary FLAC files. We don't really need all these insane 24 bit files regardless of how insane you push it.
I do on the other hand like the idea of a stand-alone music player and like the return to the old days when you could actually buy one. I still use a zune because I can fit 80 gigs of music on it and I can have a device that is completely separate battery-wise than my e-reader, phone, and tablet. There are so many other things I use the other devices for that having a separate music device is useful for long trips, whether a road trip or international flight. My tablet is often filled with video files for watching that drain its battery pretty fast. Though I can and do occasionally play music on other devices I find a separate device a good idea. I'm just not sure if I want to spend $400 for one.
There still is such a device. It's called the iPod Classic. I can play lossless files and is a lot cheaper then a Pono.
It can play them but it's not engineered to deliver that caliber of quality to one's ears! Or that's what I hear.
It all comes down to what hardware this Pono-thing will use. It has been surprisingly quit at that front. The only two things that really matter sound wise is the DAC and the amplifier. Apple's DAC is probably the best mainstream portable solution in the market right now. It's amplifier can be improved on with stuff like a FiiO amp or an iCAN.
The real news is probably that the Pono also comes with a new store to buy hi-res music. But that's hardly new. I've bought a couple of albums through the Bowers & Wilkins-store at 24-bit FLAC and though they sound terrific, even with my iPhone and a B&W P5, it's not *that* a big step up from "regular" cd-quality recordings IMHO.
Then again, I guess the real trick in great sounding recordings, is probably the alignment of mastering the recording to the equipment which will be used for the playback. So if Pono is trying to create some sort of closed system from recording to playback, they might have a great sounding product. But only within their system. It won't mean it'll automatically sound better everywhere.
Either way, I don't think I'm gonna carry an extra device with me for music with iPhone+Lossless+P5 performing as it does. Especially not an un-ergonomicly designed one as the Pono. As for home listing, lossless files on my Mac streamed through Apple-tv sound excellent. Let's hope you will be able music tom the Pono-shop without subjecting yourself to their eco-system.
Are there other players around with microSD ports? That's one feature I do like -- I'd much rather have a library of microSD cards that this business now where I have to delete stuff from my iPod every time I want to add new stuff.