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Twelve South PlugBug: Hands-on review

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.

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