What’s old is new again with an update
Several years ago when I started writing reviews, accessory company Twelve South was one of the first partners I worked with. The PlugBug, a convenient little device that allows you to charge your laptop and an additional USB device, made my life a lot easier. PlugBug was one of my favorite gadgets back in the day and I still have the original. When Twelve South announced the new PlugBug Duo I knew I had to check it out.
Just like the original PlugBug, the PlugBug Duo works with standard Apple power adapters. It’s even compatible with the USB-C power adapters and it comes packaged with international power adapters (US/Canada/Japan, UK/Hong Kong/Singapore, Continental Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and China). The purpose behind this device is to add two (2) USB-A ports to your MacBook Power Adapter. This product actually allows you to charge three devices from one outlet (MacBook + 2 USB powered devices). The USB ports provide up to a 2.1A rapid charge to all iPhone and iPads (one port is 2.1A and the other is 1.0A). The PlugBug Duo makes it possible for you to charge your USB devices without getting an adapter for the native USB-C ports on your MacBook.
All Apple USB-C Power Adapters, including:
⁃30W USB-C Power Adapter
⁃61W USB-C Power Adapter
⁃87W USB-C Power Adapter
All Apple MagSafe 2 Power Adapters, including:
⁃Apple 45W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter for MacBook Air
⁃Apple 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter (MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina display)
⁃Apple 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter (for MacBook Pro with Retina display)
All Apple MagSafe Power Adapters, including:
⁃Apple 45W MagSafe Power Adapter for MacBook Air
⁃Apple 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (for MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro)
⁃Apple 85W MagSafe Power Adapter (for 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro)
Apple 12W USB Power Adapter
Twelve South packaged the PlugBug Duo in a branded box. It doesn’t have extensive operation instructions, but it does come with some literature. The cap of the PlugBug slides off to reveal the duck head connector of the device. To use it, you simply slide this onto your power adapter so that you can charge not only your computer but also two USB-powered devices. The PlugBug on its own does feel a bit on the light side. That’s because it’s just a passthrough device. The technology is still located in the main Apple power adapter.
I was very excited to have my hands on this updated device from Twelve South. Even though it has a premium price tag ($49.95), it’s worth the investment so that you don’t have to carry around multiple power adapters. I did some test runs with the device to see how well it would charge a MacBook Pro (13-inch) and an iPhone 7. The MacBook Pro charged very well. I did notice a slight power delivery decrease when I started using the PlugBug Duo versus just using the standard MacBook Pro power adapter duck head. For example, I had the laptop connected to an external battery for charging and it gained 20% within 18 minutes for a gain of 1.11% each minute. I switched the duck head out for the PlugBug Duo and charged it for an additional 25 minutes. The laptop gained 16% for a rate of 0.64% per minute. Aside from the slight decrease in delivery rate, I was very happy that the PlugBug also seemed to decrease the amount of heat that the MacBook’s power adapter was collecting.
As I mentioned, I also charged an iPhone 7. In the span of 35 minutes, the iPhone’s battery gained 28% for a charging rate of approximately 0.8% per minute. In addition to a timed test, I also checked the power delivery of the PlugBug’s USB ports with a Digital USB Tester. I compared the test results to that of a Twelve South power adapter (5V/2A). With both devices, I took a test reading after 30 seconds and I used the same power outlet.
- PlugBug Duo: 5.03V/1.42A
- Twelve South Power Adapter: 5.10V/0.99A
Even though the voltage is higher when you use a straight wall adapter, the power is pushed through to the connected device faster when you use the PlugBug Duo. Therefore, it will charge faster.
Twelve South is a company that has been designing wonderful looking, functional products for Apple gear for some time now. The PlugBug is a great product I have loved for a long time. Now that it’s been updated with dual USB ports, it will be even handier for many of us who have to charge multiple devices at once. Twelve South never ceases to amaze me. I love that they chose to update this classic accessory and provide Apple users with a way to charge their devices together. The PlugBug Duo is a great investment and I can recommend it for all users.