As long as we've had wireless electronics, we've had the dream of wireless charging. It's a good dream, but I don't think smartphone makers or any other tech companies have fully nailed it—for any device that you take on the go, you're ultimately going to have to charge it away from home, and you're still going to need that cable. But what if the device you're charging never leaves your desk? With its new PowerPlay wireless charging mousepad, Logitech has not only solved the final inconvenience of wireless gaming mice, it's created the first wireless charging solution I've preferred to simply plugging a damn thing in.
It feels like I spend most of my life charging things. It's a major part of my daily routine, now, plugging in these high tech devices. Every night I plug my work iPhone in and set it on my night stand. Most nights I plug in my personal Android smartphone, too (and no, I don't have a good excuse for owning two phones). A laptop charger cable snakes outwards from the end of my bed, and I plug it in before I turn in for the night. About once a week I recharge my Bluetooth headphones, and every few weeks I have to cycle some Eneloop AA batteries out of a game controller to give them a night in the charging bay. And also every week or so, I plug in my wireless G900 mouse to keep it ticking. The price I pay for cable-free convenience is a life of subservience to rechargeable batteries.
Logitech has liberated me from one piece of that routine. Earlier this year, I wrote that . I've been using Logitech's G900 gaming mouse regularly for about a year, and it's not only the best gaming mouse I've ever used, it's been flawless for me in terms of wireless performance. That essentially left two obstacles. First is battery life. The G900's is good, but I still need to charge it every week or two. And ever since I build a new PC, I haven't had a charging cable constantly plugged in for my mouse, so I end up awkwardly draping it across my desk for a few hours to juice up my mouse. Second is price: wireless mice are simply more expensive.
Now, with its PowerPlay wireless charging mat, Logitech has solved the convenience problem completely, and done it with style and some really clever touches. Here's the basic setup: the PowerPlay is a thin charging mat with a small module at the top, which contains the wireless receiver for your mouse and a USB port to run to your PC. The cable that plugs into the pad here can also plug into your wireless mouse, should you want a direct connection or a faster charge, though there's not much need for either. On top of the charging pad you place a regular mousepad—Logitech sent us both a hard and soft pad for testing, but these don't include any extra wiring to enable the charging. The charging goes right through it.
On top of the pad, you can place either Logitech's G903 or G703 mouse, slightly modified versions of the G900 and G403. The mice have a small circular cutout at the bottom that can house the magnetic charging receiver or a couple small weights. There are several small but significant bits of design I love about this system.
- The wireless receiver being built into the charging mat essentially guarantees flawless wireless performance, since the distance between mouse and receiver is mere inches.
- A small light on the mat's receiver module lets you know the mouse is charging, so there's never any doubt.
- The charging pad is thin enough not to add uncomfortable height to the overall mousepad. I find it indistinguishable from using a slightly thinner normal pad.
- The choice of soft and hard pads (or any regular mousepad of the appropriate size)
- Logitech's driver software recognizes the mat and has a button that allows you to swap to a different mouse, which is great for switching from G903 to G703 (admittedly, this is a feature very few people will use)
- It's easy to remove the wireless charging puck and replace it with a simple plastic fill-in, so you can always take your mouse on-the-go and use a standard wireless dongle, which the mouse comes with
- The wireless charging just… works.
That last one is especially great. Your mouse gets a constant trickle charge while it's anywhere on the pad, keeping its battery somewhere between 85 and 95 percent topped up. That includes while the mouse is in motion. It's just utterly effortless. My mouse is always charging, and I'm never thinking about charging it.
My one nitpick is that I found Logitech's hard surface mousepad tended to slide off the charging pad in small increments as I moved my mouse hand downward, forcing me to re-center it every so often. I haven't had a similar issue with the soft pad, and this could be easily solved with a small piece of tape or some kind of sticky material between the two pads.
Logitech has completely eliminated the last convenience hurdle for wireless mice, and at the same time actually lowered the risk of wireless interference by bringing the receiver right into the mousepad. At the same time, this convenience does come at the expense of exacerbating the price barrier. The PowerPlay pad costs $100 (and comes with both a soft and hard pad), but you'll still have to buy the mouse separately. It's not cheap, but it works really damn well.
Logitech has set a high bar for other wireless charging pads to live up to, and I have no doubt more are coming soon. uses industry standard Qi charging, which will also allow you to charge a smartphone or other device with a dongle. That could be a big plus, though it really all depends on how smooth the software and hardware implementation is to see if it edges out Logitech's take. I think the ability to choose your mousepad is a big point in the PowerPlay's favor.
If price is still your main concern for buying a wireless mouse, the PowerPlay won't change your mind. But if the convenience of never having to plug in your mouse again lights up your eyes, I can tell you it's every bit as good as you'd dream it would be.