You’ll have to forgive me, I’m working through a problem here. I’m faced with some seriously cool technology that gets me excited in a flying car, robot maids, vaporwave kind of way: A wireless mouse that never needs to be plugged in. No cord to transmit data. No dock or cable to keep it charged. If you had told little baby me in 1988 that one day the clunky box with the ball inside would use lasers, be powered by magnets, and work completely wirelessly, I would have been astounded. The part of me very in touch with my youth is astounded. But the other part of me is living in 2018 where it is very clear that something like a truly wireless mouse is…niche.
PowerPlay Wireless Charging System
What is it?
A truly wireless gaming mouse system.
$200, without the mouse.
It’s pricey, and the mouse mat is huge.
I am ostensibly an ideal user of the PowerPlay wireless charging system Logitech recently introduced. I game, but I’m not the hardcore nerd that cries about lag from wireless mice. While wireless mice have historically had issues with lag, the tech has improved a lot in the last decade. For most people, wireless mice are perfectly adequate, and tacking on the promise of never charging ends up feeling like a dream. You use a special mouse pad to wireless charge the PowerPlay-equipped mice and never worry about cords again.
Logitech currently has two mice available: The G903 and G703. For this review I primarily used the G903. It’s ambidextrous, has more buttons, and you can flip out some of the switches to make it a little more customisable. So it feels fancy. It also retails for $190 (though you can get it for as low as $140 on Amazon). That’s a lot of cash for a mouse! The G703, intended for right handed users, is much more reasonable at $125. It also has fewer buttons (6 to the G903’s 11) and you can’t toggle a switch to make the scroll wheel spin freely as you can with the G903.
If the whole PowerPlay thing was just about these mice it would be a home run – The perfect tool for the gamer who doesn’t need a big fancy desk space and doesn’t want to worry about the last time they charged. But in order to use the mice you need that mouse mat remember? And it costs $200.
The G703 (left) and G903 (right). Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
You can replace the PowerPlay module super easily. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
The empty slot where the PowerPlay module, or a weight, goes. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
Buttons. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
The G903. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
The G703. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
And the PowerPlay mat isn’t just expensive, it’s also fricking huge. If you play as a sniper in a lot of shooting games and keep the sensitivity of your mouse really low than this will be very appealing to you. The mat is 12.6 by 36cm. That’s 1.18 square feet of prime desk real estate! That’s the kind of enormous mouse mat demanded by the aforementioned shooters and, uh, very few other people.
It is what instantly takes the whole conceit from futuristically cool to presently niche. The mat was so large I couldn’t fit it on my desk easily. Instead part of it had to dangle over the side, so I’d either just put it on the ground and use it as usual, or I’d move to another place in the office, carrying the mouse with me.
As much as I intensely dislike the enormous mouse mat, I do like that it comes with two different surfaces: A soft one for those of us who grew up on fabric mouse pads, and a rigid plastic one, for people who prefer a hard surface to run their mouse across.
The PowerPlay mat has a wireless transceiver built in.Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
But if a mouse mat is going to take up as much room as the PowerPlay mat, and it’s not being used by one of those people who really, really, like big mouse pads, then I kind of want it to do more than have a glowing G and keep my mouse juiced up. The PowerPlay mat does also feature a wireless transceiver so it can transmit data from your mouse to your computer.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t charge other stuff, which frankly feels like a missed opportunity. The PowerPlay mat uses the older, cheaper magnetic resonance technology to wirelessly charge the mouse. Qi-enabled devices also can charge via resonance, but they’re tuned to a different frequency than the PowerPlay mat, so it won’t charge your phone, and if you’re hoping to charge an Apple product, like say your Apple Watch, you’re also out of luck. Those charge via induction, which the PowerPlay mat doesn’t handle at all.
The G903 is a great looking mouse and included a weight module you can switch out easily with the PowerPlay module.Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
It might feel like a silly complaint. Heck complaining about the size of the mouse pad might seem silly too! But the PowerPlay mat simply takes up too much space for for something that is supposed to be “convenient.” Right now the only people I can think of who might really like it are those who play a lot of shooting games and already have a ton of room on their desk for a single task mouse mat – but those people are also probably going to be suspicious of the truly wireless promise to begin with.
So you’re left with a gaming mouse hardcore gamers won’t want because of possible wireless lag, and a gaming mouse mat more low-key gamers won’t want because it’s huge (and $200!). The Logitech PowerPlay system as it currently stands is a mismatch of frustrating proportion, and Razer, which has promised its own truly wireless mouse/mat combo later this year, likely won’t be the solution either, as that mouse pad is just as enormous, and the mouse has to actually maintain contact with it at all times. If you’ve got the desk space and really want to experience the luxury of a truly wireless mouse setup, then the Logitech PowerPlay experience is there for you. The rest of us are better off waiting until they make something better.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
- It works! A truly wireless gaming mouse with no super noticable lag for the average gamer!
- The mouse mat takes up over a foot of space on your desk.
- And it won’t charge your phone.
- And it costs $200 for the mat alone.
- The PowerPlay mice cost $125 and $190 respectively.