Provides: Worldwide AC MacBook + iPad/iPhone Charging
Developer: Twelve South
System Requirements: MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air power adapter
Availability: Out now
Several factors work against Apple’s iDevices when it comes to charging. First, the MacBooks have only two USB ports, so if you have an accessory to connect, you’re only able to charge one other device. Second, the iPad’s higher power requirements (12W vs. the 5W available from a standard USB port) cause it to charge comparatively slowly when plugged into a MacBook. No matter what, you’re faced with the unattractive choice of having a dead iDevice or schlepping another power adapter with you at all times. Enter the PlugBug World, a simple device that creates a dual USB+MacBook charger out of your existing power adapter.
Lock and Load
First of all, it’s a wonder Apple hasn’t already integrated a USB port into their power bricks. Rather than give us yet another variant of the MagSafe, Apple, how about a USB port on our power adapters (or useable wireless charging, I’m not picky)? The PlugBug World’s premise is simple; it’s a USB charger capable of charging an iPad faster than your MacBook’s USB port (though slightly slower than Apple’s own 12W charger), and it’s also a handy iPhone charger that frees up your Mac’s USB port.
That’s not all, however, as the PlugBug still has another trick up its sleeve—a quick swipe using the iOS-themed instructions unveils a mount that snaps onto your MacBook’s existing AC adapter, integrating a USB charger. It’s important to note the PlugBug World does not include a MagSafe charger, it simply attaches to your MacBook’s existing charger.
Around the World
Twelve South sells a standard version of the PlugBug that’s US only for $35, but the PlugBug World can literally go the extra mile, with five international plug choices for North America/Japan, UK/Hong Kong/Singapore, Continental Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and China. Interestingly, Apple’s own online store returns the PlugBug World when searching for international power adapter options; the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit is aimed squarely at iOS users as it includes an iPad-style charger and 30-pin USB cable. Retailing for $40, it’s a tough sell when you could grab the PlugBug World for only $5 more and make a dual iDevice/MacBook charger that’s only a couple ounces and about one inch bigger.
The PlugBug World looks best when you use the Twelve South-provided plugs, but its socket connections are the same size as the standard Apple accessories, so you can use your existing plugs and power cables. This is especially useful if you don’t want to carry the long power cable; just leave it at your desk and take the required red PlugBug World plug that you need. By itself, the PlugBug World is a competent iPad/iPhone charger, and though it’s slightly larger than Apple’s iPad charger, it weighs about the same. With its 10W power output it’s slightly weaker than Apple’s iPad charger (rated at 12W), but it’s double the output of your Mac’s 5W USB ports, so you can actually charge your iPad rather than just tickle the battery.
For US- or mainland China-only use, the PlugBug does have one minor drawback; it lacks folding prongs on the US/Canada/Japan plug. Unlike Apple’s adaptor, the prongs are fixed, so more care is required when slipping the PBW into a bag. The other adapters are much larger, and even Apple’s adapters don’t fold, so it’s exactly the same as using the standard power adapter. Other than that, the construction, design, and functionality are solid, and the easy addition of a USB charging port to your existing power adapter makes the PlugBug World a no-brainer.
If you find yourself constantly looking for an extra outlet or USB port to charge your iDevice, the PlugBug provides an elegant integrated option. For you world travelers, make sure you get the PlugBug World, which throws in support for four continents’ power outlet designs, ensuring you can stay charged and on the go virtually anywhere.
Buy the PlugBug World