Consumer electronics company Pioneer wants to take on the Walkman, even after the venerable Sony brand is itself trying to get back its footing in the market now almost obsoleted by smartphones. It has just announced the upcoming availability of its XDP-100R, a standalone Portable Music Player or PMP. And like many PMPs that are trying to view for attention in a smartphone-obsessed world, like Neil Young’s Pono or the most recent generation of Sony’s Walkman, the XDP-100R is trying to sell the idea of high resolution audio as its killer feature.
Smartphones are said to be killing the point and shoot digital camera market but it has also killed the PMP market long before that. Even the iconic iPod has trouble keeping up these days, almost supplanted by its fancier iPod Touch cousin. So when Pioneer announces that it has a brand new PMP, one cannot but help raise an eyebrow or even two.
The battle cry of PMP makers, however, are no longer about portability or touch screens. Those are a dime a dozen these days. Instead, they are trying to carve out a new market segment that rallies around the concept of high resolution or hi-res audio. Pretty much like 2K and 4K screens on mobile devices, hi-res audio promises an even better listening experience thanks to higher bitrates. To be specific, hi-res audio works at rates of 24-bit/96 KHz or even 192 KHz. CD quality audio, in comparison, goes only as far as 16-bit/44 KHz.
As a device, the Pioneer XDP-100R is practically an Android smartphone minus the phone and housed in an odd chassis that has a handle at the top. It runs Android and even has Google Play Store included. With the 4.7-inch screen, it becomes a device not just for listening to music but also for watching videos and playing games. There’s 32 GB of internal storage, but given how big hi-res audio files can be, Pioneer throws in two microSD card slots, each of which can hold up to 128 GB cards. That’s practically 288 GB in a single device.
The Pioneer XDP-100R will go on sale in Japan starting next month for an astounding $500. No word yet on whether Pioneer believes the PMP has a chance in other markets outside of Japan.