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What is a Portable Media Player?

Erika Peterson
Erika Peterson

A portable media player is a device that plays digital media. It is usually small in size, and it can come in different colors. Besides its compact size, a player has other valuable features; for instance, in most cases, it is capable of playing more than one type of media. The different types of media that can be played on any media player are pictures, video and audio files.

Most of the time, a portable media player is a considered a consumer electronic device that is used for pleasurable purposes. It can also be used in business and professional environments, however. Professionals might use one to hook up to a television during a presentation or conference.

The first portable player was introduced in 2002 by a company called Archos. Archos was founded in 1988, and is famous for its portable media devices. The first portable media device played digital video and audio files.

Handheld MP3 player.
Handheld MP3 player.

Today, there are many types of portable media players. Most of the basic models can play digital audio files, digital video files, and digital image files. More advanced players can record video and support games. Some models may even have a personal organizer.

The best media players also offer additional storage space. This space is usually in the form of memory card slots. Memory cards are ideal for holding digital files; plus, they are small in size and easy to use. Portable media player memory cards come in different sizes to meet the needs of different people.

The amount of storage space that a person needs for their media player depends on the amount of files the person wishes to carry with them. Some types of files are larger than others, but they can all usually be played on a standard media player. There are some basic pictures, audio and video files that are almost always compatible; these files include MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, JPEG, MPEG-4, and WMV. Some players can also display GIF, TIFF, and PNG image files as well.

Getting files onto the portable media player can be a difficult task if one does not know how to do it properly. Players can usually be hooked up to a computer to transfer files. Files can also be transferred to a memory card from a computer.

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Discussion Comments


I think it's a wonderful, wonderful wonderful device. I will buy one for my great-grandchildren.


If I decide to purchase a portable media player that has a memory card slot to hold data, what size would I need for say, 1000 songs, or a movie?

I like the idea of being able to store separate media on individual cards, as I feel there is less chance of losing everything if it crashes.


I think that portable media players are great for keeping ourselves entertained, but as a teacher I think that their use has gotten out of hand. I constantly have to fight for my student’s attention because they have instant access to their friends, games, music and videos.

It is difficult as an English teacher to compete with the latest racing game. For parent thinking about purchasing this item for their kids, I would suggest putting some strict rules in place for their use. They really don't have any place in the classroom.


I think it is wonderful how there are now so many portable media players available at all price points. I was in the store yesterday and noticed a small MP3 player with 2GB of storage for only $20. This would be great for children who have a habit of losing their players, or someone who just has a simple playlist for working out.

The larger touch screen models are gorgeous, but I am not sure how comfortable I would be having such an expensive product get sweaty with me at the gym.

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    • Handheld MP3 player.
      Handheld MP3 player.