PlugBug for MacLife, Mar. 2012
"A truly useful, beautiful and well made gadget, the PlugBug is easy to recommend." ... Read More
Hi, my name is Matthew and I’m a packaholic. I have a long history of taking way too much stuff with me when I travel. Half of what I pack ends up staying in the hotel room unused, waiting for me to haul it back through two airports on the way home.
As I’ve come to the realization that I must change my ways some time, I’ve come to appreciate simple products that trim, one by one, the bits that I have to take along with me on business or pleasure trips. The Twelve South PlugBug attracted me as an interesting candidate in this category and now I’m hooked. I don’t want to travel without it again.
The PlugBug is a small dongle that hooks onto your MacBook’s power supply (sorry PC users, it’s Mac only) adding a spare USB port to the puck-sized adapter.
The unit slides on where the standard wall plug or extended cord normally attaches. It’s finished in a pleasantly shiny red finish that mimics the Apple plastic but provides a nice counterpart at the same time. Dare I say that it actually makes the power supply look pretty stylish.
On the ‘back’ of the addon is a standard USB plug which offers a full 10 watts of power to any device you decide to plug into it. Perfect for an iPhone or full-speed charging of an iPad.
It adds only a single USB port, but somehow adds up to just the additional one you need. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve tapped out the two USB ports on my MacBook Air and needed an additional port to charge one of my other devices, be it iPhone, Galaxy Nexus or battery pack.
The adapter is small enough, adding just an extra inch or so to the height of your standard power brick and next-to-no weight. This makes it a decent space/weight tradeoff for leaving your iPad charger at home.
At CES I was charging a Galaxy Nexus, WiFi hotspot, iPhone and an iPad while using the two USB ports for importing images from an SD card and hardware accelerating my video conversion. The PlugBug was a lifesaver as I could rely on it to charge any of the items at full tilt.
At $34.99 I feel that the little adapter is very reasonably priced. It certainly feels just as well constructed as any Apple power adapter. If you don’t travel, then the PlugBug may be a bit of a harder sell, but if you’re a MacBook user that is on the road a lot, an extra full-power USB port can make the difference between enough and not.
As a paring knife that removes one more bit of spare kit to carry as well as a truly useful, beautiful and well made gadget, the PlugBug is easy to recommend.
This is an exceptional product… has not been off my charger since I got it.
"Twelve South took a charger -- and used the Apple adage to "Think Different" to create something that is extremely useful and attractive." ... Read More
I'm not sure if there's something in the water that's making manufacturers come out with a lot of new power accessories for Apple devices these days, but it seems like a lot of new products like the XtremeMac Slim 10W USB Wall Charger and others are being announced. None of the announcements really provided quite the excitement that the Twelve South PlugBug (US$34.99) did.
Why? Well, Twelve South is well-known for producing accessories for Apple products that are usually as well-designed and constructed as the goods from Cupertino. In this case, Twelve South took a rather pedestrian piece of equipment -- a charger -- and used the Apple adage to "Think Different" to create something that is extremely useful and attractive.
What makes the PlugBug so different? It looks a lot like an Apple iPad charger, although it is made of bright red plastic instead of white. When you plug it into the wall as-is, you can charge an iPhone or iPad with it. No big deal there. But the cool factor comes into play when you slide off the bottom of the PlugBug and slide on a charger -- sans plug -- from a MacBook Pro or Air. Suddenly, you're charging two devices with one power socket.
The PlugBug is rated for 10 Watts of power and 2.1 Amps of current, perfect for charging up your iPad. With the unique design, you take the "duck head" (removable plastic piece with the plug blades) off of the MacBook charger (not included) and slide it onto the bottom of the PlugBug. Now you have a way to charge your MacBook Pro/Air and iPad/iPhone at the same time while taking up only one wall socket.
I'm often in a situation where I need to charge both an iPad and a MacBook Air at the same time, and up until now I've carried two AC adapters with me. If I know I'm going to be using both devices, I can now just throw one "brick" (the top of the PlugBug and the attached MacBook Air adapter) into my bag. Less weight to carry, by a few ounces, but one less item to worry about losing as well. However, you can't use the brick inline, so the USB port isn't available when you use the longer cord with the adapter.
As with most of the Twelve South products I've reviewed in the past, the PlugBug is well-made, attractively packaged, and will make any Apple fan with both an iPad and a MacBook Air or Pro very happy. You can purchase the PlugBug at the Apple Store online (and at Apple retail outlets), or from the Twelve South website.