Logitech continues to push forward with innovation after innovation in the world of gaming accessories. Most recently we discussed the PowerPlay technology, a new combination of mouse pad and mouse that charges wirelessly, creating a gaming configuration that never needs charging. Jim’s review left an impression on all of us at the office – this was something that could be life changing for gamers and enthusiasts.
Today Logitech continues down that road with a handful of key technologies that will drive the company forward in ways we don’t yet foresee. As the title will reveal, Logitech is launching a new wireless mouse as well as its first wireless mechanical gaming keyboard. If that wasn’t enough, a new mouse sensor is at the heart of the G603. The HERO sensor is what allows this mouse to offer the same performance capability as the G900 but with 18 months of battery life on a pair of AA batteries.
The HERO Sensor
Let’s quickly talk about the new Logitech HERO sensor (High Efficiency Rating Optical). It combines performance that is nearly identical to the much adored PMW3366 sensor used in the Logitech G900 (among other devices) but offers 10x the power efficiency, allowing for incredibly long battery life. Everything from the lens design to the pixel surface area to the analog-to-digital conversion on the controller has been tweaked to improve performance efficiency.
The mouse sensor system starts with the front-end, a portion that covers the imaging and CMOS detector that produces the images provided to the back-end for processing. With HERO, Logitech is using an IR LED system along with large pixel surface area to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio, improving the data that tracking is computed on. A big shift with this sensor is based on the analog-to-digital conversion that can typically be very power demanding when operating at the speeds required by gamers. On HERO, efficiency is increased by processing blocks of pixels at a time, but at different rates depending on the movement rate of the mouse itself. This gives Logitech’s newest sensor the perfect balance of performance and efficiency.
There is a lot more technology to dive into around the sensor of this new mouse, and we will see it in other devices coming out later. I am working with Logitech for a deep dive with its engineers on HERO, as the topic is more complex and more intriguing than you would ever have believed.
The Logitech G603 Mouse
The first mouse to use this new sensor is the G603, a wireless mouse that utilizes Logitech’s LightSpeed technology for fast and accurate wireless gaming capabilities. It offers a host of compelling features, at a cost of just $70, that I think will instantly propel it to the top of many gamers’ must-have lists.
First and foremost, because of the new HERO sensor in use, the G603 gets up to 18 months of battery life with gaming usage. That is with two AA batteries and with the mouse set in the “low” LightSpeed setting. The “low” setting offers a response time of 8ms while the “high” setting will run at a 1ms response time. If you are a dedicated gamer that will demand the mouse be in the “high” setting, Logitech still claims to get 4-6 months of battery life on a single set of batteries. Should you only have a single AA battery at your disposal, the mouse will work with a single installed, but at half the rated battery life.
In another scale, with the G603 running in “high” mode, it will run for 500 hours of gaming. Compare that to the 24-36 hours of gaming that my G900 offers and you can see the compelling difference this new controller and sensor technology makes.
The LightSpeed wireless technology (that utilizes a Logitech USB dongle) is supplemented by support for Bluetooth. Though not ideal for hardcore gaming, the ability to support BT gives the G603 a lot of flexibility for connecting you to other machines. Battery life is rated at 18 months in Bluetooth mode.
Even better, you can have the mouse connected to one system with the LightSpeed dongle and to another machine or even your smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth. You can instantly switch the mouse between BT and LightSpeed devices with the touch of a button, allowing you to jump between platforms easily.
The Logitech G613 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
The Logitech G613 doesn’t use a fancy new sensor, but it does mark the first time that Logitech has offered a wireless gaming keyboard. With a price tag of $150, using the Romer-G switches designed and exclusively integrated in Logitech keyboards, the G613 utilizes the same LightSpeed technology that recent Logitech mice use for wireless connectivity.
Just like the mouse above, the G613 keyboard allows you to connect to both a Bluetooth and a LightSpeed dongle and use a button on the keyboard to switch between the two platforms. This is an awesome feature for people that would like to use their keyboard to type out long text messages on their smartphone without having to have a second device or accessory on your desk. I am looking forward to capturing all my text recipients’ attention going forward with much longer and more dramatic messages.
The LightSpeed wireless technology has already been proven with the mice Logitech has dropped on the market in recent months, but this does mark the first time a keyboard has integrated it. It maintains a 1ms report rate and offers better performance than many competing wired keyboards.
Battery life on the G613 is a staggering 18 months on just two AA batteries, thanks to an optimized microcontroller and the distinct lack of LED lighting. While RGB lighting has become a staple of gaming keyboards, Logitech tells us that a wireless keyboard with a backlight would last only 40 hours. That is quite a difference and it’s easy to see why Logitech made the decision it did.
You still get the full suite of features and capabilities that we love with Logitech keyboards including access to Logitech Gaming Software to store and save macros, programmable keys, profiles per-application, and more. The Romer-G switches are unique in the industry (they aren’t a standard Cherry or knock-off) but I have been using them on my G913 keyboard for nearly two years doing a combination of gaming and productivity and have never had the desire to revert.
I have only had the G603 and G613 mouse and keyboard in our office for a few days of use, and a full review is pending. I can already tell you that the devices feel and act exactly as I have come to expect from Logitech hardware – and that’s a great thing! The G603 feels great in the hand and the performance in everyday tasks, as well as the gaming I have been able to do thus far, is superb. Time will tell how the battery life reality matches expectations, but I have yet to find any instance of Logitech holding back on accurate technical information – I don’t suppose they’ll start now.
The new HERO mouse sensor could be a drastic shift for gamers. A sensor that is both high performance and highly efficient, coupled with proven wireless technology that is better than most wired offerings, means that long-lasting, wireless gaming is here to stay and available to all.