Before PAX Prime, we took apart the Logitech G903 mouse and wireless charging station, known as “Powerplay.” The G903 mouse can socket a “Powerplay module” into the weight slot, acting as one of two coils to engage the magnetic resonance charging built into the underlying powerplay mat. Magnetic resonance and inductive charging have been around since Nikola Tesla was alive, so it’s not new technology – but hasn’t been deployed in a mainstream peripheral implementation. Laptops have attempted various versions of inductive charging in the past (to varying degrees of success), and phones now do “Qi” charging, but a mouse is one of the most sensible applications. It’s also far lower power consumption than something like a laptop, and so doesn’t suffer as much for the inefficiencies inherent to wireless charging.
Going hands-on at PAX West 2017, we stopped by Logitech’s booth to get more technical details on the Logitech G613 wireless keyboard, G603 wireless mouse, and some follow-up information on the PowerPlay mat and G903/G703 mice. The latter set of information will go live in our pending-publication review. The former is up for discussion today.
Both devices leverage the same wireless hardware used in the G900 mouse, which we previously reviewed and found to perform equivalently or superior to high-end wired mice. The myth of “wireless is always slower” was immolated by that product series, mummified and entombed alongside other black magic gamer peripheral mythology. The G613 is the first high-performance wireless keyboard that we’re aware of, levying Logitech’s Romer G switches (which feel similar to o-ring damped browns) and two modes of wireless connectivity. These include Bluetooth and Logitech’s now-standard high-performance wireless setup, dubbed “Lightspeed.” Interestingly, these two systems can be used asynchronously to create an ad-hoc KVM, switching to wireless for the high-performance machine (e.g. gaming box), then Bluetooth for the accompanying streaming box or compression machine. This, we think, is the most marketable feature of the G613, and so happens to also exist on the new G603.
Logitech today announced its new wireless charging products for an upcoming pair of mice, the G903 and G703, which use familiar high-performance wireless hardware to the G900. The two mice (and, theoretically, subsequent mice) will use magnetic resonance rather than inductive or closed-couple charging, permitting a small form factor “under-mat” for mousepads.
The lower mat is dubbed “PowerPlay,” and emits an electromagnetic field in a radial pattern outward from the center. Used within reason – read: the mouse is probably not on the fringes of the pad for too long – the PowerPlay mat is advertised as being capable of wirelessly charging mice with an efficiency great enough to sustain ongoing use, plus some recharge. Magnetic resonance is not as efficient as induction, though neither is as efficient as just plugging the device in (which is still possible). Logitech worked to improve charge efficiency to a point that the mouse never has to be actively charged by the user, or by requiring user thought and effort, while also completely ridding of the cable. This is part of Logitech’s on-going evangelism promoting wireless mice as minimally equivalent in performance, if not objectively superior, to wired mice with regard to latency and response times. Now, though, the company has instituted a $100 mat to further entice users away from the wire.
Logitech G’s recent history at PAX events includes real-time click latency testing on mice, something the company followed-up today with its keyboard latency testing. The new latency testing contraption is a lot simpler insofar as cost to build, with the BOM almost entirely consisting of an off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi 3, a plastic shell, and some wires. Logitech’s resulting platform enables us to test the response time from key presses between the new Logitech G Pro keyboard ($130) and a Razer Black Widow Tournament Edition keyboard. As with last year’s demonstration, Logitech is less focused on “beating” Razer and more focused on providing a proof of concept for their technology. Razer just happens to serve as a good benchmark, given the company’s proliferation in the PC market.
A new wireless gaming headset was announced by Logitech today. The G533 features a lower MSRP and higher battery life than its current closest relatives, the G933 Artemis Spectrum and G930, as well as a sleek new look.
Our most recent Logitech headset review was of the Artemis Spectrum, a headset that comes in both wired (G633) and wireless (G933) varieties—technically, we reviewed the wired version, but they’re pretty close to identical. Looking back, the first obvious difference in specs is that the Spectrum has an impedance of 39 Ohms compared to the new G533’s 32. This could explain the second obvious difference, which is the G533’s advertised battery life of 15 hours, up from the Spectrum’s 12 (or even less with its LEDs lit). A power switch, volume adjustment, and a reprogrammable mic mute button are the only external controls, which the Spectrum has in addition to 3 dedicated programmable G-buttons. The rechargeable batteries are removable for easy replacement, one notable improvement over the Spectrum.
In an industry first for the last year, Logitech may also be the only company making a product that moves away from the RGB LED craze, at least partially. Logitech was a bit ahead of the game on LED illumination, and went full "Spectrum" (their RGB LED signifier) for mice, keyboards, and headsets through 2016. Honestly, it's refreshing to not write about a product that bases its entire existence on the premise of RGB LEDs.
Logitech's latest obsession seems to be weight reduction. The G502 didn't make as much noise about weight as its top-tier predecessors, sequentially the G303 ($42), G900 ($135), and now G403 ($70) (and G Pro). The company has fine-tuned its tooling to allow for manufacturing of ultra-thin plastic shells, making for a lighter weight mouse chassis that can seemingly still withstand the usual wear-and-tear imposed on a mouse. In previous efforts, Logitech has boasted sensor optimization through firmware or other collaborative efforts with its sensor suppliers, has boasted lights, and has moved to implement keyplates with more consistent "clickiness" as governed by spring-tensioned switches.
But again, the latest trends have been to reduce weight and improve wireless functionality -- two efforts that seemingly go hand-in-hand. We talked about these moves heavily in our G900 review, and will leave most of the technical discussion (radiation patterns, wireless strength and reliability, etc.) to that content.
Whenever we get a new keyboard to review, we make a point to put away the regularly used keyboards. It’s easy to gravitate toward what we’re familiar with, and so those things must be put aside for the review. Oftentimes, putting away the usual keyboards is easy since we have worked with a number of good releases lately, but sometimes it’s not so trivial.
Frankly, we expected the latter situation when unboxing the Logitech G213 Prodigy ($70). It’s a rubber dome keyboard, and those don’t get quite the fanfare that mechanical boards do. Setting the keyboard up revealed inclusion of RGB lighting, fully functional media keys, and a tuned force profile on the switches. The G213 also positions itself at a $70 “budget” price-point for an RGB board, but we’ll talk more about that later.
As soon as the electrical contacts of a switch are joined from a switch depression, an electrical signal is dispatched within the mouse for processing by its internal components. That initial queue of processing helps rule-out potential spurious behavior, electromagnetic interference (or cross-talk), and performs any necessary calculations for the input command. If deemed an intentional user action, that input is sent down the USB cable (or transmitted wirelessly) to the system.
We discussed this process in our Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum review. There's a misconception with users that wireless input devices are inherently slower than their wired counterparts, when the reality is that the opposite can be true – and is, with the G900 and G403 wireless. The recent PAX West 2016 event gave us an opportunity to get hands-on with the company's USB analyzer setup to demystify some of the wireless vs. wired mouse arguments.
Logitech's PAX Prime presence initializes with the launch of its “Prodigy” line of gaming peripherals, each attempting to expropriate the $70 market with gamer-not-gamer hardware. From our hands-on with the new line, it looks as if Logitech's goal is primarily to fulfill the demand of high-end gaming components without the Transformers-esque appendages and plastic wings. This follows the company's still recent Logitech G Pro release (not to be confused with the Logitech Pro-G), another $70 peripheral, but targeted more specifically at eSports players.
We've not yet had enough hands-on time to fully review the new Logitech hardware, but we do have the specs and some initial notes.
The Prodigy components announced today include the G213 non-mechanical keyboard, G231 gaming headset with a familiar body, and G403 gaming mouse. All three devices hit the same $70 price point, with the mouse including an outlier $100 wireless alternative.
Keyboards can come in many shapes, sizes, and styles, and yet it seems that the market is flooded with a focus on “gamer” styles with sharp angles and gaudy, unnecessary design additions – no, fake rivets and wings aren’t needed on any keyboard. For this reason alone, it’s refreshing to see a large peripherals company with some history of edgy products choose to design a simple and minimalistic keyboard.
Logitech has taken this route with its new G610 keyboard by creating a simple and minimalistic mechanical keyboard that provides all required features at its price point of $90.
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