For years, wireless mice have been full of compromise. If you want something high-performance, it either has to be heavy or only runs for a couple days on a charge. If you want good battery life, it’s either has serious weight or crummy performance. You get the idea. Logitech has been making some impressive high-performance wireless mice in its gaming-oriented G lineup, but it might have finally cracked the code with the latest generation. The G903 and G703 ($250 and $200 as tested, respectively) are fantastic, fast mice, and you never have to plug them in. The only problem is money — you’ve got to drop a lot of dough on the ideal setup.
Lightspeed and Powerplay
Logitech’s latest high-end G903 and G703 mice (See on Amazon) include support for two technologies with fancy names: Lightspeed and Powerplay. Lightspeed is the communication technology Logitech uses, which is different than Bluetooth or the Unifying receivers you get with Logitech’s Logi-branded mice. It’s designed to be fast above all else, and it really is. Logitech promises wireless latency as low as 1ms, which put it on par with a wired gaming mouse.
Lightspeed is essentially a version of the 802.11 wireless standard with a few extra bits integrated to make it a proprietary creation of Logitech. You can only have one device connected to the Lightspeed dongle at a time, and it’s able to cycle through wireless channels to ensure a low-noise connection to your mouse.
Powerplay is new this year, and it’s what really sets Logitech’s new mice apart from the competition. Logitech says it’s been working on Powerplay for about four years. You never have to plug in the G903 and G703 because they can charge wirelessly on your mousepad. Logitech’s Powerplay mouse pad has an inductive coil inside that produces an electromagnetic field across the entire surface of the mouse pad, and it’s big. The Powerplay pad measures 320x344mm, but it’s only 2mm thick.
Logitech is tight-lipped about the technical specifics of Powerplay, but it’s not entirely dissimilar from other wireless charging systems. The alternating EM field produced by the pad is picked up by the mouse, which turns it into direct current to charge the battery. The G903 and G703 both support Powerplay by way of a small disk called the Powercore (above) that plugs into the bottom (this space is used for customizable weights if you don’t have Powerplay). This inductive coil is what “sees” the EM field from the pad.
The Powerplay mouse pad has a small hub at the top where all the electronics live and the power cable is attached. There’s an RGB LED in there, but you can turn that off if you want. In a smart move, this hub also contains the Lightspeed connection hardware. So, you don’t need a separate dongle to connect the mouse to the computer. This one device does charging and data.
Since the mouse is always in range of the charger, it could theoretically always charge. That’s great for a while, but constantly doing small charge-discharge cycles is bad for the battery. Powerplay mitigates this by allowing the battery to fall to about 85 percent after it’s fully charged, Then, it restarts the wireless induction and pushes it back up to 100 percent before letting it fall again. So, you’re guaranteed to have most of a charge at all times if you remove the mouse from the charging mat.
Using Powerplay: I’ve Never Plugged This Mouse In
I’ve tested both the G703 and the G903, but I’ve spent more time with the 903. My previous daily driver was the G900, but I’ve also used similar mice from Corsair and Razer in the recent past. I kept going back to the G900 because of the lightweight design and impressive performance. As the model number suggests, the G903 is very much like its predecessor, but just a bit better. It’s not the prettiest mouse I’ve ever seen, though.
The bright white LED means it’s charging.
This mouse has ten buttons, most of which are customizable. In fact, you can remove the side buttons form one or both sides if you don’t need them. The mouse comes with solid magnetic inserts to cover up the button contacts in that case. It’s also ideal for ambidextrous users or gamers who need multiple button profiles (you can switch between them on the fly). The entire thing weighs 110g, and I’ve found it to be much more comfortable for my aging wrists than many wireless mice.
The battery life of the G900 was always a pain point for me. It could run maybe four or five days on a charge for most people, but I’m using the computer almost all day for work, then for some gaming in the evening. Sometimes I’d blow through the battery in around two days. That’s why I’ve been so anxious to try out Powerplay, and I’m blown away by how well it works.
The optional buttons.
I’ve never once plugged either of the Powerplay-enabled mice into power. They just sit on the mouse pad and top themselves up continuously. There’s a small white LED on the hub that shows you when the mouse is detected by the wireless charging system. The system works everywhere by the extreme corners at the bottom of the mouse pad and the outside half-inch or so on the other sides. It’s nice to have the complete freedom of a high-performance wireless mouse without ever worrying about recharging it.
But the Cost…
The G903 and G703 are two of the best mice available, and the addition of Powerplay makes the experience a clear win. It’s hard to go back to a wireless mouse that needs to be charged. However, this setup will cost you. Not only are the mice expensive, Powerplay is sold separately.
The G703 alone is $100 and the G903 is $150. Adding the Powerplay charging system costs another $100. That’s $200-250 total for the system, which is a lot for a mouse, but I can (and have) come up with justifications for far more expensive peripherals. If you want the best and don’t mind spending big, this is it.