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Portable, personal stereo systems were all the rage back in the early 1980s when Sony first introduced the legendary Walkman. Those devices, and similar ones from other vendors, featured a cassette tape player in a handheld package that used headphones for speakers.
Over nearly 20 years, portable stereos became smaller, fancier, more complex, and even cheaper in general. Today, many portable stereos can even play CDs. But all portable stereo systems contain moving parts, which tends to make them rather delicate and power-hungry. But thanks to an Internet-driven development, that might soon be a thing of the past.
By now, most have heard of MP3. MP3 audio is basically MPEG-compressed audio, which can package a typical song in about one tenth the space that the same song recorded on a CD would occupy. As an example, a 40-megabyte song on a CD can …