The real magic mouse is made by Logitech, not Apple

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

But I know this: if you want a mouse, then in fact feels adorable, price, heck, Logitech has a gadget for you.

If I want to charge my wireless mouse now, I don’t need to plug in the cord or put it on the 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 is the Logitech Powerplay wireless charging system, actually a mouse pad with a wireless charger that magnetically sends electricity to a special washer. Logitech has been selling it since 2017 – almost as much as Apple exposes us to inverted beetles.

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

  • Opened the package
  • Put the charger on my desk
  • The top is put up with a soft cloth for the mouse
  • The Logitech G502 Lightspeed wireless USB mouse key has been removed from my PC
  • Instead, plug in the Powerplay USB cable
  • Clicked the magnetic washer at the bottom of my mouse
  • Turned the mouse off and on

Then, I never thought about charging the mouse again. Not to this very story.

Seriously, it’s been three months and I’ve never had to move a finger – because it charges on its own. Always. Automatically. Just being on the mouse pad.

Magic.

This is literally all the setup instructions.
Image: Logitech

I’ve never considered a perfect product before, and I’m not saying it’s one – I’d hate to smooth myself out. Especially if some customers to do claim that their mice eventually stopped charging or that the mouse pad came off and needed to be taped or glued. Plus, it’s incredibly expensive – $ 120 for just one mouse pad, with no mouse included, for a product that may be unnecessary because these mice come with a cord that allows you to play while charging. And no, Powerplay doesn’t work as a phone charger and doesn’t use Qi: it only works with its own magnetic washer, which only fits into a few of Logitech’s most expensive mice, including the G502 Lightspeed, G703, G903, G Pro Wireless and G Pro X Superlight.

However, it has a 4.7 star rating on Amazon with an amazing amount of negative reviews. The most common complaint is that nearby speakers or headphones can catch buzzing while charging, and I myself haven’t noticed this.

What I have noticed so far is that there is nothing to notice. It just works. No shutdowns, no switches, no settings. True, the charging coil doesn’t cover the entire mouse pad, but I never had to think about it, never went back to a dead mouse. It always comes to life every morning at work and every night at play.

Some users have made Powerplay with their own hands on larger mouse padsbut this is the only size that Logitech sells.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Probably not hurting that I use it with the Logitech G502 Lightspeed, our choice for the best wireless gaming mouse whose comfortable handle, lots of well-placed buttons, incredible performance and adjustable weight put her head and shoulders also great, also the wireless Razer Mamba and Logite Mamba and The G900 I owned before. But it’s a $ 140 mouse, and there’s no discount on a kit with both. Even the cheapest compatible mouse, the G703 Lightspeed, will usually cost you $ 70, and the Powerplay charger rarely goes on sale.

But you could do what I did: get the mouse, use it until the battery is low, and then add Powerplay. (Find another generous brother-in-law while you do this.) For a year, I plugged in a mouse to charge and continued to use it with a little drag. It was good. But it’s better.

It was such an idea, recalls Andrew Kunrad, who was a technical marketing manager at Powerplay (and wrote a guide for the reviewer) back in 2017. It was designed to be the ultimate solution for discerning gamers who want to spend extra money once and for all to solve charging everything.

At the time, 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 games were possible wirelessly, none of them could hold a large charging after a couple of years of use. Kunrad says that in the G900 this is because, although the PMW3366 sensor was capable, it used an order of magnitude more energy than the new Logitech Hero sensors.

Logitech G900 with plug-in playback and charging cable inserted.
Photo by Amelia Golovaty Krales / The Verge

During development, Hero Logitech also looked at wireless charging, but at first she didn’t like what he saw. Wireless charging Qi meant keeping the mouse in a fixed place. Same with wireless charging stands like this HyperX. Razer and Mad Catz ended up putting instant charging supercapacitors in some ill-fated mice, but that meant they stopped working when 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,” Kunrad says.

So Logitech started their research and development lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, with this idea, and they came up with a set of foreshortening antennas that could slowly charge a mouse – think for days, not hours – even if you move it.

“I called it ‘dog bone’ when I first saw it,” said Kunrad, who visited the research facility during the development. “They said, ‘Yeah, but it’s because the concentric fields overlap, which creates that point in the middle.’ The whole site can be covered because of these shares. “

“Essentially, it’s just a giant modular mobile transformer,” he explains. “You have that smaller coil of winding that goes to the coil of the higher winding, and the field is wide enough so that the energy charge is always greater than the full energy of the mouse.”

According to an FCC document, it operates at 6.78 MHz, just like the old A4WP / Rezence standard, which faded into the background once Samsung and Apple gave Qi. Kunrad would not say how much credit Logitech partners can earn: for example, both the charging pad and the transmitter board are labeled as LG Innotek, although perhaps it simply acted as a manufacturer.

Another thing I find interesting in the Powerplay mouse pad is that it’s not just a charger. It also acts as a wireless mouse receiver, so you no longer need to leave the mouse key plugged into your PC – I keep it inside the mouse to easily grab and walk. A case in the FCC shows that there is a full Arm Cortex-M3 computer with a frequency of 32 MHz and a working Bluetooth antenna – although Kunrad suspects that Bluetooth has never been used. He says this is not a functional part of the final product, and Logitech uses its own patented 2.4 GHz wireless stack “Lightspeed” to connect to the mouse.

Arm chip inside Logitech Powerplay receiver module.
Image via FCC

But for me, the most unusual thing about the Powerplay system is how long it has been without fanfare – even the packaging hasn’t changed since 2017. Is this product for sale? Kunrad says “people buy them like crazy” and is helped by the fact that compatible G502 Lightspeed, G Pro Wireless and G Pro Wireless Superlight are becoming the most popular mice of all time. But he can’t share the sales figures. And he also admits that he uses them not himself, but the smaller G305, which has no room for Powerplay washers. Instead of a wireless charging mat under the table, he keeps a box of energizers. “It infuriates me every six or eight months.”

Overall, the battery life of the gaming mouse has improved significantly since 2017: the recent G Pro X Superlight boasts 70 hours of charging compared to the 60 hours of the previous generation, which in itself was twice as long as the previous generation. Less versatile mice, such as Coonrad’s G305 and rival mice, can easily cross the 200-hour limit.

Says Kunrad: “If it’s so weird, why doesn’t Logitech make more of a stench about it? The war against wireless communication has been won. ”

In 2022 you probably will no you need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a wireless mouse that doesn’t die every week. But it’s not as magical as you ever need to be charged.

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