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Compact player fills the room with sound

By Mark Baard
July 25, 2011

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Music systems
Many folks trying out a restaurant like to explore the wine list, taste the beers on tap, or grill their waitresses about where their chicken was raised.

I like to check out the sound system.

Recently, I was enjoying the stellar Sonos wireless sound system at Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown.

I’ve long been a fan of Sonos Inc., whose wireless systems can be controlled by a single, wheeled remote controller, a smartphone, or a tablet PC.

The company’s latest compact player is the Play:3, which at about $300 will provide enough sound to fill a large room in your home.

The Play:3, which measures less than 11 inches across, has a bass radiator, two mid-range drivers, and a tweeter. It connects to the Internet, where you can hook up with your favorite radio stations, podcasts, and streaming music services.

You can navigate through your music selections with any of the Sonos Controller apps the company has made for the Android, iPhone, and iPad.

Over time, you can build out a wireless home-stereo system with additional Play:3 speakers and a wireless networking accessory that you will also need to purchase from Sonos.

Laptop bags

Cocoon protects and organizes gear

The bag I use to transport my laptop is about as sexy as a cellphone in a hip holster. It’s boxy, with big rubber feet, a briefcase handle, and a big flap with a Velcro strip strong enough to hold a man suspended in thin air.

There are, of course, better-looking options for trucking your laptop or tablet up mountain trails, to Tanglewood this summer, or to school this fall.

New York-based Cocoon Innovations LLC, whose bags have a unique hardware storage system, has released a stylish nylon backpack, the Central Park Professional (available at for about $80), in black, brown, gray, or red.

The Central Park has a nice rounded shape with padded, breathable shoulder straps and a strap that goes across your chest. That takes the strain off your shoulders as you lug your stuff over long distances. The backpack also has a handle on the top and a strap on the bottom. It has waterproof zippers and a hood you can break out to add a layer of protection for your gear against the elements.

A pocket at the top can hold a smartphone or music player; you can listen to the device while you walk. A mesh side pocket holds water bottles or power bars.

The Central Park’s padded compartment is big enough to hold a 17-inch laptop. An organizational system, Grid-It , consists of overlapping, rubberized mesh straps that can hold devices of varying sizes and shapes.

The Grid-It system appears in many of the company’s other cases and camera bags.