Review: PlugBug adds 10-watt USB charging to your MacBook Pro

| Tuesday, November 8th, 2011


Carrying multiple chargers for your devices can be a pain for multiple reasons. Sometimes there is only one outlet available to charge with, and sometimes fumbling for multiple cables is just plain annoying. Twelve South aims to address the problem with the PlugBug, a MacBook plug attachment that extends its host’s functionality by adding a 10w USB port to it.

As I stated in my last Twelve South review of the BookBook for iPhone, I am a sucker for smart packaging. The PlugBug packaging shows a lot of attention to detail; however, the shelf appeal for the PlugBug isn’t as high for me as it is for the BookBook when I first laid eyes on it. The outside of the packaging is a bit plain, showing imagry of the PlugBug but no window displaying the actual product.

Upon opening the box, however, you are greeted with a clever pull tab. Pulling the tab makes the typically awkward process of removing boxes from inside other boxes a lot easier! Once the internal box emerges from its shell, the packaging geniuses at TwelveSouth catch my attention again.

The internal shell houses the instruction manual and opens to reveal foam internals that protect the PlugBug on its way to your hands. Removing the PlugBug from the foam housing again reveals the personality behind Twelve South as you are greeted with a subtle “thank you”.

The PlugBug consists of two pieces, one being the actual device and the other is a cover that shields the 110 output for when you are using it in standalone mode. Standalone mode is basically just what it says — a standalone 10w USB charger.  You don’t have to use your MacBook charger to take advantage of the PlugBug’s USB port.  Simply plug it in to the wall and you’re set to charge your iPad or iPhone at full 10 watt power.

When you want to attach it to your power adapter, you simply replace the current flip down plug portion with the PlugBug. It slides right into place and locks in similar to the OEM extender cord as well as the flip down that we are used to with all Apple products today.

One thing that confused me a bit was the decision to make the PlugBug red. It stands out like crazy when attached to the stark white MacBook Pro charger. Then I got to thinking, perhaps that was the desired effect. What better marketing tool than word of mouth, and how better to get people to notice and inquire about your product than to make it blatantly obvious that my charger, attached to my Macbook Pro is different than yours.

Having the old-school unibody MacBook Pro, I’m cursed with the slightly larger MacBook Pro adapter.  This isn’t really a problem, but the look and feel of having the PlugBug attached results in an off kilter plug.

I can’t help but think once in a while that my MacBook Pro already has USB ports on it. The addition of another port seems almost silly until I remember just how painful it is to charge my iPad from the stock ports, and how awesome it is to charge my iPhone on my iPad’s 10w charger.

PlugBug: The Verdict

The PlugBug is a pretty nifty little device. It won’t be for everyone, but for those who find themselves struggling with multiple chargers, it could be the solution to your problem. You can pick up PlugBug now directly from TwelveSouth for $34.99.

PlugBug: Twelve South

Next Up On Macgasm

View Article