Portable media device [portable media player]
- Sumanth Gopinath
[portable media player]
An easily transported, often handheld machine that plays pre-recorded and/or broadcast media, sometimes possessing recording capability; the term is most often associated with portable digital audio and multimedia players. The history of the portable media device can be linked decisively, if not exclusively, to the invention of audio recording (portable magic lanterns and other cinematic precursors were common in the 19th century). Mechanical audio devices such as the suitcase gramophone, popular among sailors and soldiers, emerged during the first two decades of the 20th century, and early radio kits were portable, preceding the often-discussed “domestication” of the record player and the radio into household furniture. Radio sets became fitted components in automobiles around 1930, and so-called portable player pianos—portable player piano mechanisms applied to regular pianos—were even invented around the same time. But despite the commonplace description of such devices as “portable,” the term has meant different things at different times and for different devices: one could articulate a scale-of-portability continuum dependent in part on object size, ranging from media playback and transmission machines that were transportable (which by definition would include all consumer models), to those moved about with relative ease while usually requiring stationary setup and usage (including the examples above), to handheld and pocket-sized devices that could allow for media consumption while on the move. Another consideration in portability was the power sources for such devices, which during the first half of the century shifted from the mechanical to the electrical but which were still hampered by the limitations of batteries, notably their cost, size, and storage capacity....