Setup, Usage, and Conclusion
Once you have your Powerplay Charging Base and a compatible mouse, setup is quite simple. The G703 and G903 have a circular cutout on the bottom that magnetically connects to either a weight or empty placeholder (if using as a wired or traditionally charged mouse), or to the included "Powercore" module, which allows the mouse to receive current from the charging base.
To get the Powerplay system up and running, connect the charging base to your PC via the included USB cable, wait for the RGB light on the charging base's control module to blink blue, insert the Powercore module into your mouse, and then flip the power switch on the bottom of the mouse to turn it on. The charging base will automatically pair with the first compatible mouse that is turned on.
To unpair or repair mice in the future, you can manually manage the charging base's connections from the Logitech Gaming Software interface.
Once paired, the mouse will communicate with the charging base via Logitech's Lightspeed technology, which offers impressive performance that rivals, and in some cases beats, the latency of even some wired mice. The G703 and G903 also include a Lightspeed USB adapter for pairing with your other PCs directly.
Living the Wireless Charging Life
You can use the Powerplay system without installing the Logitech Gaming Software, but you'll get the best experience if you do. The software not only allows you to managing pairing and check battery life, it also has presets for tracking based on the hard and cloth mouse pads, RGB lighting controls, and the traditional suite of options for configuring tracking speed, scrolling rate, and button behaviors.
The most interesting part of the software is the information related to power and charging. Wireless charging simply isn't as quick or efficient as wired charging, so factors such as lighting and the reporting rate of the mouse sensor can significantly affect the total battery life. The Logitech Gaming Software therefore lets you control these factors individually, and gives you estimates on how their current settings impact your maximum running time. For example, turning the mouse's RGB light off can extend total running time by approximately 11 hours, according to the software.
Of course, these estimates only come into play if you're using the mouse off of the wireless charging base, or if you use it faster than it can charge (i.e., with the most aggressive settings nonstop for 24+ hours). This scenario is of course unlikely, so the result is a battery life that is practically unlimited, at least for the effective lifetime of the mouse's battery.
One thing you may notice is that your battery life, as reported in the gaming software, rarely hits 100 percent, and may decline, even after you leave it stationary on the charging base for a bit. Don't be alarmed, however, as this is planned behavior on Logitech's part to ensure that the battery has an opportunity to flex its muscles and extend its longevity.
Logitech claims that it will automatically keep the battery charged between 80 and 95 percent. In our testing, we saw that range dip a bit lower, bottoming out at around 75 percent. There's a small LED facing the mouse pad below the Logitech logo that will glow a dim white when the pad is allowing the battery to discharge, and bright white while charging up.
Speaking of charging, the whole point of the Powerplay system is that the effective charging area extends across the whole mouse pad, and while that's technically true, Logitech recommends keeping the mouse away from the pad's edges for optimal charging.
Your mouse will still receive some signal when positioned in that outer perimeter, but you'll want to at least leave the mouse resting in the center of the pad in between sessions. If your mouse somehow drains to zero percent battery, it may take up to five minutes on the charging base to reach a usable level of battery, but you can always connect the mouse directly to its included micro USB cable to speed up that initial charge.
While it's certainly not impossible for a user to completely drain the battery while gaming on the charging base, we used the mouse extensively for hours-long productivity and gaming sessions and never once approached anywhere near battery exhaustion. It's clear that, absent any technical issues, the Powerplay system will keep the mouse indefinitely charged for the vast majority of users.
Wireless Charging Tips
As a relatively novel product in the PC accessory market, Logitech offers Powerplay users a few "dos and don'ts" for those unfamiliar with the technology:
- Make sure to plug the Powerplay Charging Base's USB cable directly into a full-power USB port on your motherboard, or into a powered USB hub, to ensure adequate current for charging.
- The wireless charging signal relies on a flat, consistent surface, so clear a nice clean spot on your desk.
- Conductive materials can interfere with the Powerplay's functionality or efficiency, so avoid things like metal desk surfaces and keep magnetic or conductive objects off the charging base mat.
- Don't fold, bend, cut, or otherwise screw around with the charging base. Doing so can easily cause irreparable damage to its charging capabilities.
While wireless charging technology is far from new, Logitech's efforts to adapt it to the mouse have been quite successful, especially for a first generation product. The long and short of it is that this stuff works and once you're used to it, going back to a traditionally charged wireless mouse kind of stinks.
The technology isn't perfect, of course. The charging base's control module is a bit unattractive and gives the product a larger footprint on your desk than is ideal. The relatively fragility of the charging base may also be an issue, especially for those with children or pets. And while more Powerplay compatible devices are on the way, the choice of just two mice at launch means that lots of users will need to choose between giving up their favorite mouse or jumping on the wireless charging train. I personally love my MX Master 2S, and likely won't invest in Powerplay until a version of the MX Master series gains support for the platform.
But the key in that previous sentence is that I will definitely be buying a Powerplay Charging Base once that happens, because the thought of never having my wireless mouse die on me again is too enticing to ignore, even at its current price premium. The only thing that might make me hold out even longer is the prospect of an even larger charging base that could accommodate both a wireless mouse and wireless keyboard, but Logitech tells us that the engineering challenges of taking the technology to that size are significant, so it might be some time before such a product hits the market.
At an entry price of at least $200 ($100 for the charging base and $100 for the G703), the Logitech Powerplay will likely be the most expensive mouse pad you've ever bought. But if you love the clean look and flexibility of wireless mice and hate limited battery life, the Powerplay is definitely worth it, even in this first generation design.
The Powerplay Charging Base is currently available for pre-order, while both the G703 and G903 are shipping now (remember, you can use them as normal wired or wireless mice as you wait for the charging base).
- Logitech Powerplay Wireless Charging Base ($99.99)
- Logitech G703 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse ($99.99)
- Logitech G903 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse ($149.99)
Pre-orders for the Charging Base are expected to ship in August.