A Wireless Mouse That Never Dies: The Logitech Powerplay Wireless Charging System
Logitech Powerplay Wireless Charging System
Logitech was the first company to introduce a commercially available wireless mouse, way back in 1991. Since then, the company and its competitors have evolved the concept to the point where most of the technology's downsides have been addressed, even for some of the most demanding users. But despite significant improvements over the past few years, the one advantage that traditional wired mice have continued to hold over their wireless counterparts is power.
Absent technical issues, a wired mouse will always be ready to work when you sit down at your PC. It will never give up and quit on you in the middle of a gaming session or business presentation. Wireless mice, conversely, rely on batteries with limited running time. The batteries in modern wireless mice can last weeks, even months in some cases, but at some point they'll need to be recharged or replaced. Depending on the situation, it might not be a big deal to simply plug in the USB charging cable or swap batteries when your mouse dies, but it's a safe bet that most wireless mouse users have been caught without adequate battery life at a highly inconvenient time at least once.
The obvious solution to this issue is wireless charging. The technology is already commercially available for devices like smartphones and smart watches, and for years we've been promised more ambitious solutions, such as desks that charge all of your devices at once. But there's a difference between the type of wireless charging products that have been on the market for the past few years and the type of product that would be ideal for your mouse. In other words, it's easier to design and implement a small wireless charging system that accommodates a stationary object (your smartphone) than it is to create an adequately sized mousing surface that can charge an often rapidly moving device.
But that's exactly the challenge that Logitech decided to address, and the result of their efforts is the Powerplay, the world's first consumer-targeted wireless charging system for mice. When paired with compatible Logitech devices, the Powerplay system offers a low latency "Lightspeed" experience for both gaming and everyday productivity, and it's the first step into a world where users may never need to worry about charging their mouse.
Powerplay Charging Base Overview
Those interested in making the leap to wireless charging for their mouse will need to pick up two new products to take advantage of the Logitech Powerplay system. The first is the Powerplay Charging Base, a $99.99 13.4-inch x 11-inch (340mm x 280mm) wireless charging pad. The Powerplay Charging Base consists of the wireless charging surface itself along with both a hard and cloth mouse pad, one of which the user will choose to place over the charging surface.
While other mouse pads may allow the wireless charging signal to reach the mouse when placed over the charging base, Logitech has designed the two included pads specifically for wireless charging support, and only guarantees optimal functionality (or functionality at all) with the Powerplay's own pads. The wireless charging base and the cloth mouse pad bring the total thickness to 4mm, while the charging base and hard pad take it to just under 5mm. This may be thicker than some mouse pads but is easy to adjust to after a few minutes of use.
At the top-left of the Powerplay Charging Base is a control module that serves the triple role of managing the device's wireless charging, receiving the mouse's wireless data signal via Logitech's "Lightspeed" interface, and supplying the Micro USB interface for connection to your PC. It also features an RGB-lit Logitech logo that can be managed or disabled via the company's Logitech Gaming Software. This does add about 1.5 inches (40mm) to the overall depth of the Charging Base, however, so make sure to factor that in if you're working with limited desk space.
Finally, the included USB charging and data cable is 6 feet long (1.8m), and is designed with plastic prongs on either side to help keep it connected and prevent damage to the cable or the charging base's port.
Wireless Charging Mice: G703 & G903
The Powerplay Charging Pad won't magically start wirelessly charging your existing mice, so you'll need to also pick up a new compatible mouse to complete the system. At launch, that includes the Logitech G703 and Logitech G903 gaming mice, with MSRPs of $99.99 and $149.99, respectively.
The G703 and G903 are successors to previously released Logitech gaming mice, the G403 and G900 Chaos Spectrum, respectively, and share the same basic design and features of their predecessors, with the major addition of Powerplay wireless charging support.
Previous PC Perspective articles already looked at the features and design of of G403 and G900, so we'll focus on the experience of Powerplay wireless charging for the remainder of this review. If neither mice appeal to you from a design or functionality standpoint, Logitech will be releasing additional devices with Powerplay support over time. Conversely, if you love the look of these mice but aren't ready to make the full upgrade to wireless charging, you can buy the G703 or G903 and use them as traditional wired or wireless mice until you pick up a Powerplay charging base in the future.