Technology

The real Magic Mouse is made by Logitech, not Apple

We may never know why Apple adamantly insists that you turn its mouse upside down year after year, like a beetle with its legs in the air.

But one thing I do know: if you want a mouse, then go for it actually feels magical, the price is damn, Logitech has the gadget for you.

Now when I want to charge my wireless mouse, I don’t have to connect a cable or put it on a dock. Actually, 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.

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Logitech Powerplay with G502 Lightspeed mouse.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

What you see here is the Logitech Powerplay wireless charging system, practically a mouse pad with a wireless charger that magnetically beams electricity at a special puck. Logitech has been selling it since 2017 – almost as long as Apple has been exposing us to the upside-down bug.

To give you an idea, here it is Completely Description of what I did after receiving this product:

  • Have opened the packaging
  • I put the charger on my desk
  • Placed a soft cloth mouse pad that came with it
  • My Logitech G502 Lightspeed Mouse wireless USB dongle was removed from my PC
  • Plug in the Powerplay’s USB cable instead
  • Inserted the magnetic puck into the bottom of my mouse
  • Mouse off and on again

And then, I never thought of recharging my mouse. Not until this story.

Seriously, it’s been three months and I’ve never had to lift a finger – because it charges all by itself. Always. Automatically. Just by being on the mousepad.

Magic.

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This is literally the entire setup guide.
Image: Logitech

I’ve never rated a perfect product before and I’m not saying this is one – I would hate to jinx myself. Especially with some customers do eventually claim their mice stopped loading or that the mousepad came off and had to be glued or taped. Also, it’s incredibly expensive $120 for the mouse pad alone, no mouse included. And no, it doesn’t double as a phone charger or use Qi: it just works with its own magnetic puck, which only fits a handful of Logitech’s most expensive mice, including the G502 Lightspeed, G703, G903, G Pro Wireless, and G Pro X Superlight.

Still, it carries a 4.7-star rating on Amazon surprisingly few negative reviews. The most common complaint is that nearby speakers or headphones can pick up a hum when charging, and I haven’t noticed that myself.

What I have noticed so far is that there is nothing to notice. It just works. No interrupts, no on/off switches, nothing to adjust. It’s true that The charging coil does not cover the entire mousepad, but I never had to think about it, never came back to a dead mouse again. It comes to life every morning at work and every night at play.

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Some users have made the powerplay themselves into larger mousepadsbut this is the only size that Logitech sells.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

It probably doesn’t hurt that I use it with the Logitech G502 speed of light, our pick for best wireless gaming mouse, whose comfortable grip, plenty of well-placed click buttons, incredible performance, and adjustable weight put them head and shoulders above the equally excellent, also wireless Razer Mamba and Logitech G900 I’ve owned before . But this is a $140 mouse and there is no discount on a package with both. Even the cheapest compatible mouse, the G703 Lightspeed, will usually cost you something $70 on sale — and the Powerplay charging pad is rarely even offered for sale.

But you could do what I did: get the mouse, use it until the battery starts bugging you, and then add Powerplay. (Find yourself a generous brother-in-law, too.)

It was such an idea, recalls Andrew Coonrad, who was Powerplay’s technical marketing manager in 2017 (and wrote the Reviewer’s Guide). It is designed as the ultimate solution for demanding gamers who are willing to spend more money to solve charging once and for all.

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 gaming was possible over wireless connections, neither could a lot of charge last few years of use. With the G900, Coonrad says, that’s because the PMW3366 sensor, while capable, used an order of magnitude more power than Logitech’s newer Hero sensors.

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The Logitech G900 with the Play and Charge cable inserted.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

While developing Hero, Logitech also looked into wireless charging – but at first it didn’t like what it saw. Qi wireless charging means the mouse stays in one place. The same goes for wireless charging cradles like this HyperX. Razer and Mad Catz eventually adopted instant charge supercapacitors in some unfortunate mice, but that meant that if you removed them from their charging pads they stopped working, and those pads and mice had to be sold as an expensive set. “We wanted to create a modular solution,” says Coonrad.

So Logitech commissioned their R&D lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, with this idea, and they developed a set of loop antennas that allowed the mouse to charge up slowly — think days, not hours — even while you’re moving it.

“When I first saw it, I called it the Dog Bone,” says Coonrad, who took a trip to the R&D facility during development. “They said, ‘Yeah, but it’s the way the concentric fields overlap that creates this hot spot in the middle.’ Because of these flaps, the entire pad can be covered.”

“It’s basically just a giant modular, moving transformer,” he explains. “You have this smaller winding coil that transfers to the higher winding coil, and the field is wide enough that the energy charge is always greater than the mouse’s total energy.”

Accordingly an FCC filing, it operates at 6.78MHz, just like the old A4WP/Rezence standard that fell by the wayside when Samsung and Apple gave Qi the nod instead. Coonrad didn’t want to say how much credit Logitech’s partners might deserve: For example, both the charging pad and the transmitter’s circuit board are labeled LG Innotek, although it’s possible it only served as a manufacturer.

The other thing I find interesting about the Powerplay mouse pad is that it’s not just a charger. It also doubles as a wireless receiver for the mouse, so you no longer have to leave the mouse dongle plugged into your PC – I keep it in the mouse for easy portability. The FCC filing shows it a full 32MHz Arm Cortex-M3 computer and a working Bluetooth antenna inside – although Coonrad suspects Bluetooth was never actually used. He says it’s not a functional part of the final product and instead Logitech uses its own proprietary 2.4GHz “Lightspeed” wireless stack to connect to the mouse.

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The arm chip in the receiver module of the Logitech Powerplay.
Image via FCC

But to me, the most unusual thing about the Powerplay system is how long it’s been stuck around without fanfare — even the packaging hasn’t changed since 2017. Can this product actually be sold? Coonrad says “people are buying them like crazy,” and it helps that the 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 sales figures. And he also admits he doesn’t use them himself, but rather the smaller G305, which has no room for a powerplay puck. Instead of a wireless charging mouse pad, he keeps a box of Energizers under his desk. “It pisses me off every six to eight months.”

Overall, gaming mouse battery life has improved significantly since 2017, with the current G Pro X Superlight boasting a 70-hour charge time compared to 60 hours for the previous generation, which was itself twice as long as the previous one Generation. Less feature-rich mice – like Coonrad’s G305 and competitor mice – can now easily surpass the 200-hour mark.

Says Coonrad, “If this is so awesome, why doesn’t Logitech make a bigger stink about it?” The war on wireless is won.”

Definitely you in 2022 not Having to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a wireless mouse that doesn’t die every week. But it’s nowhere near as magical as never having to charge.

https://www.theverge.com/23005435/magic-mouse-apple-logitech-powerplay The real Magic Mouse is made by Logitech, not Apple

Mike Fahey

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