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Back To School: Fresh Tech For A Fresh Start

Sonos Play:3 Wireless Speakers

Every college kid has been there or will be there at some point: you’re having a party, entertaining friends or trying to romance some coed you met down on the quad a few days ago. In any of the aforementioned scenarios, music is the key. Typically your dorm room or apartment is limited to whatever’s on your iPod, and the music is going to be stuck in one room…not the best scenario for parties.

Enter the Play:3 from Sonos, a new wireless speaker system that can “Stream Every Song on Earth.” Once connected to your router, the Play:3 can play music from your own collection, music from any networked computer, Internet radio (FM or HD), satellite radio, or one of the many popular online music services (Spotify, Pandora, to name a few) currently available.

The Play:3 setup was a breeze; we used an optional $49 Sonos Bridge, connected to our apartment’s router, to stream music to two Play:3 speakers set up on different floors (one by the TV and one in the loft). The software install on our desktop was painless and took less than three minutes, and syncing the speakers to our Bridge was literally a two-button operation. Once your press the volume up and mute buttons on that Play:3 speaker, it syncs with the Bridge in a matter of seconds, no wires required. You can also connect a Play:3 speaker to your Bridge or router via Ethernet, as each speaker has one Ethernet out, and the Bridge has Ethernet outputs and inputs.

Of course this wireless system would be a pain if you were tethered to your desktop or laptop in order to switch songs or services, but Sonos is one step ahead of you. As long as the device is on the same wireless network, you can control your entire Sonos system via an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. In the middle of a game of beer pong, but don’t want to run to your laptop to put on Run DMC? Simply change tracks from your Droid while your partner is taking his/her shot! You can also adjust volume from the app, be it on a master level or for each individual speaker.

Living in a suite or apartment? Multiple Play:3’s mean you can stream the same music to every speaker, or control each independently; blast Slayer up in the loft while your hippie roommate stays glued to NPR downstairs or in the next room.

Of course, all of this simplicity and wire-free bliss counts for nothing if the sound quality is severely lacking. Thankfully, the Play:3 speakers sound as good as any high-end iPod dock or mini shelf system. Despite its small size, the Play:3 packs two drivers, one tweeter, a bass radiator, and three digital amplifiers…all in a package smaller enough to fit on any TV stand or bookshelf.

$299 is steep, we know, but that’s the same price as the lowest-end Bose iPod dock, and the Sonos Play:3 can do so much more. Setting up Sonos speakers in your off-campus apartment will likely make you and your roommate’s gods of the weekend gatherings, so keep that in mind if the price keeps you on the fence.