Portable media player

A flash-based player (Creative MuVo)
An embedded hard drive-based player (Creative ZEN Vision:M)
An MP3 CD player (Philips Expanium)
Rio PMP300, one of the earliest marketed DAPs, plays music in the MP3 format
The third generation iPod stores audio files on a miniature hard disk drive.
The Archos Jukebox 6000 released late 2001 was a DAP with a hard disk, one of the earliest of its kind
PlayStation Portable
A recent player, Sony Walkman NW-A35, focusing on audiophilic capabilities such as the ability to play Direct Stream Digital (DSD)
Sony Walkman NW-A1000, one of the earliest Walkman players that played MP3 alongside the proprietary ATRAC format
Toshiba Gigabeat running Portable Media Center, allowing video playback
An iRiver iFP-190 player, with a built-in microphone for voice recording
Rockbox, a popular free and open source firmware for various PMPs
Interior of a small unbranded flash-based DAP
The Iriver SPINN portable media player features Samsung storage and a Telechips processor. It also features both touchscreen and a clickwheel mechanism for navigation. The SPINN implements haptic feedback by vibrating with user input. Additional hardware capabilities enable it to decode the MPEG-4 Part 2 format and play back audio using SRS WOW.
An "MP4 player" from Newsmy, a major PMP manufacturer in China
A Sansa Clip player with a clip to attach on a person's clothing
An iPod Shuffle DAP, featuring no display screen
Connecting a computer to a Sansa Clip DAP to transfer content by "syncing"
An early DAP (NETrax, from 1999) in its dedicated docking station for charging and connecting to a PC

Portable consumer electronics device capable of storing and playing digital media such as audio, images, and video files.

- Portable media player

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Consumer electronics

Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic (analog or digital) equipment intended for everyday use, typically in private homes.

A crowd of shoppers in the flatscreen TV section of the big box consumer electronics store Best Buy
A Radio Shack consumer electronics store in a mall
A radio and TV store in 1961
A typical CoCo 3 computer system, from the 1980s
A modern flat panel, HDTV television set
Gramophone factory in Hannover-Nordstadt
This picture illustrates how the mobile phone industry evolved to what we see today as modern smartphones
Guide to Greener Electronics 2017 findings
Electronic waste: discarded electronic equipment

Later products included telephones, televisions, and calculators, then audio and video recorders and players, game consoles, mobile phones, personal computers and MP3 players.

Flash memory

Electronic non-volatile computer memory storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.

A disassembled USB flash drive. The chip on the left is flash memory. The controller is on the right.
A flash memory cell
NOR flash memory wiring and structure on silicon
Programming a NOR memory cell (setting it to logical 0), via hot-electron injection
Erasing a NOR memory cell (setting it to logical 1), via quantum tunneling
NAND flash memory wiring and structure on silicon
3D NAND continues scaling beyond 2D.
Minimum bit cost of 3D NAND from non-vertical sidewall. The top opening widens with more layers, counteracting the increase in bit density.
NOR flash by Intel
Serial Flash: Silicon Storage Tech SST25VF080B
An Intel mSATA SSD

Flash memory is used in computers, PDAs, digital audio players, digital cameras, mobile phones, synthesizers, video games, scientific instrumentation, industrial robotics, and medical electronics.


About the series.

iPod line prior to July 27, 2017. From left to right: iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Touch
iPod line prior to July 27, 2017. From left to right: iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Touch
Various iPod models. From left to right: iPod Video, iPod 4th Generation, iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle.
Four iPod wall chargers for North America, all made by Apple. These have FireWire (left) and USB (right three) connectors, which allow iPods to charge without a computer. The units have been miniaturized over time.
The "Made for iPod" logo found on most classic iPod accessories
The signature iPod click wheel
iPod quarterly sales. Click for table of data and sources. Note that Q1 is October through December of previous year, the holiday season.
Comparison of iPod Mini (right) and a competitor Creative Zen Micro (left)

The iPod is a discontinued series of portable media players and multi-purpose mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first version was released on October 23, 2001, about 8 1⁄2 months after the Macintosh version of iTunes was released.


Headphones are a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user's ears.

Headphones on a stand
Wireless headphones
Bone conduction headphones.
Brandes radio headphones, circa 1920
Sennheiser HD 555 headphones, used in audio production environments (2007)
Headphone cord with integrated potentiometer for volume regulation
Circumaural headphones have large pads that surround the outer ear.
A pair of supra-aural (on-ear) headphones
In-ear monitors extend into the ear canal, providing isolation from outside noise.
A typical example of a headset used for voice chats
Sony Ericsson Cordless bluetooth headset
Lightspeed Aviation 30 3G ANR Aviation headset used by aviators
In-ears are among those good for noise isolation.
A typical moving-coil headphone transducer
Electrostatic loudspeaker diagram
Balanced armature transducer with armature balanced and exerting no force on diaphragm
A custom in-ear monitor which uses 8 balanced armatures in a triple crossover configuration (4 low/2 mid/2 high). Headphone designs often use multiple balanced armatures to provide a higher fidelity sound.
Sony MDR-7506 headphones in stowed configuration
Product testing - headphones in an anechoic chamber

Headphones connect to a signal source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD player, portable media player, mobile phone, video game console, or electronic musical instrument, either directly using a cord, or using wireless technology such as Bluetooth, DECT or FM radio.

IPod Touch

Discontinued line of iOS-based mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. with a touchscreen-controlled user interface.

iPod Touch 6th/7th generation in Pink
iPod Touch 6th/7th generation in Pink
4th and 6th generation iPod touches

As with other iPod models, the iPod Touch can be used as a music player and a handheld gaming device, but can also be used as a digital camera, a web browser and for messaging.


Brand of portable audio players manufactured and marketed by Sony since 1979.

Original 1979 Sony Walkman TPS-L2
The classic Walkman logo from 1981 to 2000
Three Walkman players, variously dating between 1984 and 1991
Classic Walkman advertising
An MD (MiniDisc) Walkman player
Walkman NW-A55, released in 2019
Second generation budget Walkman model from 1983 (model WM-4)
WM-F5 "Okinawa" Sports Walkman
WM-75 Walkman "Sports" model (1985)
Walkman professional with Dolby B and C, model WM-D6C, 1985–1999
Model WM-F77, c. 1986
WM-B603 (1989)
WM-F404, high-end model with TV tuner (1990)
A "Sport" Walkman model from the early 1990s
A 90s Walkman with a combined radio
Mid-1990s Walkman (WM-EX116) with supplied headphones
Sony Walkman WM-EX194 (2004)

The Walkman brand was extended to serve most of Sony's portable audio devices, including DAT players, MiniDisc players/recorders, CD players (originally Discman then renamed the CD Walkman), transistor radios, mobile phones, and digital audio/media players.


Coding format for digital audio developed largely by the Fraunhofer Society in Germany, with support from other digital scientists in the United States and elsewhere.

Comparison of coding efficiency between popular audio formats

With the advent of portable media players, a product category also including smartphones, MP3 support remains near-universal.

Cassette tape

Analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback.

A TDK SA90 Type II Compact Cassette
A TDK SA90 Type II Compact Cassette
The Sony Walkman
Burmese music cassette tapes for sale, Yangon, Myanmar.
Visualization of the magnetic field on a stereo cassette containing a 1kHz audio tone.
Notches on the top surface of the Compact Cassette indicate its type. The rear-most cassette at the top of this picture, with only write-protect notches (here covered by write-protect tabs), is Type I, its tape consisting of iron oxide. The next cassette down, with additional notches adjacent to the write-protect tabs, is Type II, its tape consisting of chrome and cobalt. The bottom two cassettes, featuring the Type II notches plus an additional pair in the middle of the cassette, are Type IV (metal); note the removal of the tabs on the second of these, meaning the tape is write-protected. Type III was a combination of Types I and II but never gained the popularity of the other three types and was made obsolete by Type IV.
Maxell compact cassettes, C60 (90m) and C90 (135m).
A compact cassette with write-protect tab for Side 2 removed and then restored.
Maxell four-function leader.
Tape Guide via Security Mechanism (SM)
Tapematic 2002 audio cassette loaders, used to wind ("load") magnetic tape from tape reels ("pancakes") in the machine into empty cassette tape shells (known as C-0s or C-Zeros) The C-0s have just leader which is cut into two and the tape is attached to the leader, then wound
A typical portable desktop cassette recorder from RadioShack
Nakamichi RX-505 cassette deck; this one has an auto reverse feature that rotates the cassette, hence the bump in the middle.
Radio–cassette players of the design also called "ghetto-blasters" and "boomboxes"
A head cleaning cassette
A dual cassette-based Panasonic answering machine
A Magnavox dual deck recorder with high-speed dubbing. Doors are open showing capstans.
A C2N Datassette recorder for Commodore computers
German-made cassettes sold for computer data recording, mid 1980s
A streamer cassette for data storage, adapted from the audio Compact Cassette format
Size comparison of Elcaset (left) with standard Compact Cassette
A Compact Cassette and a Microcassette

Like the transistor radio in the 1950s and 1960s, the portable CD player in the 1990s, and the MP3 player in the 2000s, the Walkman defined the portable music market for the decade of the '80s, with cassette sales overtaking those of LPs.

USB flash drive

Data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated USB interface.

A SanDisk Cruzer USB drive from 2011, with 4 GB of storage capacity
A SanDisk Ultra Flair USB drive from 2020, attached to an HP laptop
A Kingston card reader which accepts Micro SD memory cards (Transcend card shown partially inserted), and acts as a USB flash drive
The internal mechanical and electronic parts of a Kingston 2 GB flash drive
The front and rear side of a USB flash drive with the casing removed
Flash drives come in various shapes and sizes, sometimes bulky or novelty, such as the shape of ikura gunkan-maki.
A USB flash drive in the shape of a key
Assortment of USB flash drives
A contemporary thumb drive styled solid-state digital audio player (Sony Walkman B180 Series)
The German band Wizo's Stick EP, released in 2004, was the first album released on a USB stick.
Ubuntu-branded USB flash drive and lanyard.
Punched cards in storage at a U.S. Federal records center in 1959. All the data visible here could fit on a single flash drive.
Size comparison of a flash drive and a 3.5-inch floppy disk. The flash drive can hold about 11,380 times more data.
Three different Micro Center-branded digital media, showing a USB flash drive, an SD card, and a Micro-SD card, all having a capacity of 8 GiB, next to a U.S 5-cent coin for size comparison
The internals of a 32 GB Toshiba USB 3.0 flash drive. The USB 3.0 standard is becoming increasingly popular. This drive has a write speed of 60 MB/s and a read speed of 120 MB/s, making it faster than the USB 2.0 standard.

Some devices combine the functionality of a portable media player with USB flash storage; they require a battery only when used to play music on the go.

Audible (service)

American online audiobook and podcast service that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content.

One Washington Park headquarters, in Newark, New Jersey
The former Second Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey was repurposed as Audible's "Innovation Cathedral".

The company's first product was an eponymous portable media player known as the Audible MobilePlayer; released in 1997, the device contained around four megabytes of on-board flash memory storage, which could hold up to two hours of audio.