The real magic mouse is made by Logitech, not Apple

We may never know why Apple insists that you charge its mouse upside down, like a beetle with its paws in the air, year after year after year.

But I do know this: if you want a mouse that actually feels magical, price is damn, Logitech has the gadget for you.

Now when I want to charge my wireless mouse, I don’t have to plug in a cord or place it on a dock. In fact, I don’t think about charging at all. It just does… Because last Christmas a very generous brother-in-law bought me a wireless mouse that charges itself.

Logitech Powerplay, with G502 Lightspeed mouse.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

What you’re looking at here is the Logitech Powerplay wireless charging system, basically a mouse pad with a wireless charger that magnetically beams electricity to a special puck. Logitech has been selling it since 2017 — almost as long as Apple has subjected us to the reverse bug.

To give you an idea, here’s the complete description of what I did when I received this product:

  • Opened the package
  • Placed the charging plate on my desk
  • Plow an included soft cloth mouse pad on top
  • Removed my Logitech G502 Lightspeed mouse’s wireless USB dongle from my PC
  • Plugged into the Powerplay’s USB cable instead
  • I clicked the magnetic puck into the bottom of my mouse
  • Mouse off and on

And then, I never thought of charging my mouse again† Not to this story.

Seriously, it’s been three months and I’ve never had to lift a finger – because it charges all by itself. All the time. Automatically. Just by being on the mouse pad.

Magic.

These are literally the complete installation instructions.
Image: Logitech

I’ve never reviewed a perfect product, and I’m not saying this is one – I wouldn’t like to curse myself. Especially when some customers to do claim their mice eventually stopped charging or that the mouse pad fell apart and had to be glued or glued. Plus, it’s incredibly pricey at $120 for the mouse pad alone, no mouse included. And no, it doesn’t double as a phone charger or use Qi: it just works with its own magnetic puck, which fits in only a handful of Logitech’s most expensive mice, including the G502 Lightspeed, G703, G903, G Pro Wireless, and G ProX Superlight.

Still, it has a 4.7 star rating on Amazon with surprisingly few negative reviews† The most common complaint is that nearby speakers or headphones can pick up a hum while charging, which I haven’t noticed myself.

What I have noticed so far is that there is nothing to notice. It just works. No disconnects, no on/off switches, nothing to adjust. Is it true that the charging coil does not cover the whole mouse pad, but I never had to think about it, never come back to a dead mouse. It comes alive every morning at work and every night I game.

Some users made the Powerplay themselves in larger mousepadsbut this is the only size that Logitech sells.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

It probably doesn’t hurt that I use it with the Logitech G502 Lightspeed, our pick for the best wireless gaming mouse, whose comfortable grip, plenty of well-placed click buttons, incredible performance and adjustable weight put it head and shoulders above the equally excellent, also wireless Razer Mamba and Logitech G900 I previously owned. But that’s a $140 mouse, and with both you will not get a discount on a bundle† Even the least expensive compatible mouse, the G703 Lightspeed, will usually cost you $70 on sale — and the Powerplay charging pad is rarely offered for sale.

But you could do what I did: grab the mouse, use it until the battery bothers you, then add Powerplay. (Also, find a generous brother-in-law while you’re at it.)

That was pretty much the idea, remembers Andrew Coonrad, who was technical marketing manager for Powerplay in 2017 (and wrote the reviewer’s guide). all.

Back then, there was still a stigma against wireless gaming mice, and battery life was part of that — while the Razer Mamba and Logitech G900 convinced me that low-latency gaming was possible over wireless, neither could do much of a thing. hold charge after a few years of use. With the G900, Coonrad says this is because while the PMW3366 sensor was capable, it used an order of magnitude more energy than Logitech’s newer Hero sensors.

The Logitech G900, with a play-and-charge cable inside.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

During Hero’s development, Logitech also looked at wireless charging, but at first didn’t like what it saw. Qi wireless charging meant that you had to keep your mouse in a fixed place. The same goes for wireless charging cases like this HyperX. Razer and Mad Catz Finally Installed Instant Charge Supercapacitors in some ill-fated mice, but that meant they stopped working if you took them out of their charging pads, and those pads and mice had to be sold as an expensive set. “We wanted to create a modular solution,” says Coonrad.

So Logitech charged its R&D lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, with that idea, and they came up with a set of loop antennas that could charge the mouse slowly — think days, not hours — even as you move it.

“I called it the dogbone when I first saw it,” says Coonrad, who visited the R&D facility during development. “They said, ‘Yeah, but it’s because of the way the concentric fields overlap, which creates that hotspot in the middle.’ Those lobes allow the entire pillow to be covered.”

“It’s really just a giant modular, movable transformer,” he explains. “You have that smaller winding coil transferring to the higher winding coil, and the field is wide enough that the energy charge is always more than the mouse’s total energy.”

According to an FCC filing, it runs at 6.78MHz, the same as the old A4WP/Rezence standard that fell by the wayside when Samsung and Apple nodded Qi instead. Coonrad wouldn’t say how much credit Logitech’s partners could earn: Both the charging pad and the transmitter circuit board are labeled LG Innotek, though it’s possible it simply served as a manufacturer.

The other thing that I find interesting about the Powerplay mouse pad is that it is not just a charger. It also doubles as a wireless receiver for the mouse, so there’s no need to leave the mouse dongle plugged into your PC – I keep it in the mouse so you can easily grab it and use it. The FCC filing shows that there are… a full 32MHz Arm Cortex-M3 computer and a working Bluetooth antenna in there — though Coonrad suspects the Bluetooth was never actually used. He says it’s not a functional part of the final product, and Logitech instead uses its own 2.4GHz “Lightspeed” wireless stack to connect to the mouse.

The Arm chip in the Logitech Powerplay receiver module.
Image via FCC

But for me, the most unusual thing about the Powerplay system is how long it hangs without a fuss – even the packaging hasn’t changed since 2017. Does this product really sell? Coonrad says that “people are buying them like crazy,” and it helps that the compatible G502 Lightspeed, G Pro Wireless, and G Pro Wireless Superlight become the most popular mice of all time. But he can’t share sales figures. And he also admits that he doesn’t use them himself, but rather the smaller G305 that doesn’t have room for a Powerplay puck. Instead of a mouse pad that charges wirelessly, he keeps a box of Energizers under his desk. “It pisses me off once every six to eight months.”

Overall, the battery life of a gaming mouse has improved significantly since 2017, with the recent G Pro X Superlight able to charge for 70 hours, compared to 60 hours for the previous generation, which was itself double that of the previous generation. . Mice with fewer features, such as Coonrad’s G305 and competitors’ mice, can now easily exceed the 200-hour mark.

Coonrad says, “If this is so great, why isn’t Logitech making a bigger stench of it? The war on wireless has been won.”

In 2022 you are sure Do not have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a wireless mouse that doesn’t die every week. But it’s not nearly as magical as never having to charge at all.

www.theverge.com

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