The real magic mouse is made by Logitech, not Apple

We may never know why Apple stubbornly insists that you charge its mouse upside down, like a beetle with its legs up, year after year after year.

But I know: If you want a mouse, then actually feels magical, price for hell, Logitech has the gadget for you.

When I want to charge my wireless mouse now, I do not need to connect a cord or place it on a dock. In fact, I do not think about charging at all. It just does … For this past 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, in fact a mouse pad with a wireless charger that magnetically sends electricity to a special puck. Logitech has been selling it since 2017 – almost as long as Apple has exposed us to the beetle upside down.

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

  • Opened the packaging
  • Placed the charging pad on my desk
  • Ploped an included soft cloth mouse pad on top
  • Removed my Logitech G502 Lightspeed mouse wireless USB dongle from my PC
  • Connect the Powerplay USB cable instead
  • Talked the magnetic puck at the bottom of my mouse
  • Turned the mouse off and on

Also, I’ve never thought about charging my mouse again. Not until this very story.

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

Magic.

This is literally the whole setup instructions.
Image: Logitech

I’ve never reviewed a perfect product before and I’m not saying this is one – I would hate to jinxe myself. Especially when some customers do claim that their mice eventually stopped charging, or that the mouse pad peeled apart and needed to be taped or glued. Plus, it’s incredibly expensive at $ 120 for the mouse pad alone, no mice included. And no, it does not work as a phone charger or Qi: it only works with its own magnetic puck, which only fits in a handful of the most expensive Logitech mice, including the G502 Lightspeed, G703, G903, G Pro Wireless and G Pro X 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 when charging, and I have not noticed that myself.

What I have noticed so far is that there is nothing to notice. It just works. No interruptions, no on-off switches, nothing to adjust. It’s true that the charging coil does not cover the entire mouse pad, but I have never had to think about it, never return to a dead mouse. It’s always brought to life every morning at work and every night I play.

Some users have made it themselves in Powerplay for larger mouse padsbut this is the only size Logitech sells.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

It probably does not hurt that I use it with Logitech G502 Lightspeed, our choice for the best wireless gaming mouse, whose comfortable grip, lots of well-placed click buttons, incredible performance and adjustable weight put it with head and shoulders above. the also excellent, also wireless Razer Mamba and Logitech G900, I owned before. But it’s a $ 140 mouse, and there’s no discount on a bundle with both. Even the cheapest compatible mouse, the G703 Lightspeed, will typically cost you $ 70 on sale – and the Powerplay charger rarely goes on sale at all.

But you could do what I did: get the mouse, use it until the battery fails you, and then add Powerplay. (Find a generous brother-in-law while you’re at it, too.)

It was a kind of idea, recalls Andrew Coonrad, who was technical marketing manager at Powerplay (and wrote the reviewer’s guide) back in 2017. It was designed to be the ultimate solution for demanding gamers willing to spend extra to solve charging once and for all.

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

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

While developing the Hero, Logitech also looked at wireless charging – but at first it did not like what it saw. Qi wireless charging meant keeping your mouse in a fixed place. Same with wireless charging holders like this HyperX. Razer and Mad Catz eventually put super-capacitors with instant charge in some fateful mice, but that meant they stopped working if you removed them from 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 the idea, and they came up with a set of loop antennas that could slowly charge your mouse – think days, not hours – even as you move it around.

“I called it the dog bone when I first saw it,” says Coonrad, who took a trip to the R&D facility during development. “They were like, ‘Yeah, but it’s because of the way the concentric fields overlap that creates that hotspot in the middle.’ The whole pillow can be covered because of these patches. “

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

According to an FCC application, it works at 6.78MHz, the same as the old A4WP / Rezence standard that fell out of the way when Samsung and Apple instead gave the Qi a nod. Coonrad would not say how much credit Logitech’s partners could earn: for example, both the charging plate and the transmitter circuit are branded LG Innotek, although it is possible that it has just acted as a manufacturer.

The other thing I find interesting about the Powerplay mouse pad is that it’s not just a charger. It also acts as the wireless receiver for the mouse, so you no longer have to leave the mouse dongle connected to your PC anymore – I store it inside the mouse so it is easy to grab and go. The FCC filing shows that there is a full 32MHz Arm Cortex-M3 computer and a working Bluetooth antenna in there – although Coonrad suspects that Bluetooth was never actually used. He says it’s not a functional part of the final product, and Logitech uses its own proprietary 2.4GHz “Lightspeed” wireless stack to connect to the mouse instead.

The arm chip inside the Logitech PowerPlay receiver module.
Image via FCC

But for me, the most unusual thing about the Powerplay system is how long it has been stuck without fanfare – even the packaging has not changed since 2017. Does this product actually sell? Coonrad says it makes “people buy them crazy,” and it helps that the compatible G502 Lightspeed, G Pro Wireless and G Pro Wireless Superlight are becoming its most popular mice ever. But he can not share sales figures. And he also admits that he does not use them himself, but instead the smaller G305, which does not have room for a Powerplay puck. Instead of a wireless charging mouse pad, he keeps a box of Energizers under his desk. “It annoys me once every six to eight months.”

By and large, the battery life of the gaming mouse has improved significantly since 2017, when the latest G Pro X Superlight boasts 70 hours of charging compared to 60 hours for the previous generation, which in itself was double the generation before. Less feature-rich mice – like the Coonrad’s G305 and competitors’ mice – can easily cross the 200-hour mark now.

Coonrad says, “If this is so great, why does Logitech no longer stink of it? The war on wireless has been won.”

In 2022, you certainly are refrain have to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a wireless mouse that does not die every week. But it’s not nearly as magical as never having to be charged at all.

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