Review: PlugBug World by Twelve South, the versatile little charger Apple should have made

By , Feb 2, 2015

TwelveSouth PlugBug World image 018

Aren’t you sick and tired of those unsightly, clunky wall chargers lying underneath your desk? I’m all for simplification so solutions that cut down the number of power adapters needed to juice up my devices are bound to win my attention.

Twelve South’s PlugBug World is a cute hybrid charger which connects to any MacBook brick or Apple USB wall charger.

By integrating an additional 2.1-Amp USB port, this compact accessory can quickly recharge any iOS device, or a lower-powered USB device, while feeding power to a MacBook at the same time.

Continue reading as I let you in on the PlugBug’s little secrets, such as its cunning adaptability, versatility and smart design choices that make it stand out from other products and turn it into an indispensable companion in your mobile arsenal.

What is it?

In a word, it’s the charger Apple should have made itself.

Basically an international edition of the multi-purpose PlugBug that Twelve South originally launched as an accessory for MacBooks, the World includes five different snap-on plugs so you can use it with most power outlets around the world.

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These country-specific tips give intrepid world travelers the flexibility to use the accessory with standard US/Canada/Japan wall plugs, three-blade UK/Hong Kong/Singapore plugs, two-tube Continental Europe ones, diagonal blade Australia/New Zealand plugs and a straight-blade system used in China.

How does it work?

The accessory packs in a power adapter, a USB charger and a metal tip. The built-in USB port puts out 10 watts of power at 2.1 Amps, allowing you to juice up a power-hungry iPad or fast-charge an iPhone (which ships with Apple’s 5W USB Adapter) or any lower-powered USB device.

Its multi-purpose metal tip makes it easy to snap the World conveniently onto the standardized metal prong found on Apple’s cleverly designed MacBook and USB chargers with the white removable duck-head.

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In addition to recharging both your Mac notebook and an iOS device, attaching it to Apple’s USB adapter effectively doubles the number of USB ports.

Versatility and Uses

As mentioned before, sliding the PlugBug onto a MacBook brick and attaching a mobile device to its USB port enables a scenario where both your Mac notebook and a favorite iOS device charge simultaneously. This is the most common use of the World that the vast majority of users will immediately recognize.

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A less-obvious scenario calls for attaching Twelve South’s charger to an Apple USB Power Adapter. This configuration gives you two USB ports so you can simultaneously charge, say, an iPhone and iPad.

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Of course, it can charge other USB-powered mobile devices as well, such as LTE hotspots, non-Apple tablets and smartphones, portable wireless speakers and so forth. Finally, the World can act as a standalone charger: simply slide a third section of the PlugBug into the main body for seamless appearance.

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Design and Build Quality

The PlugBug World bears all the hallmarks of Twelve South’s sophisticated and enduring design. Its smooth plastic enclosure is sturdy and glossy, giving the World a premium feel. Twelve South’s design language isn’t just a visual dichotomy between the sexiness of the World’s striking red appearance and the coldness and neutrality of Apple’s snow white chargers, but also serves a very practical purpose.

As in, red makes the World easily identifiable on travels, making it stand out in your backpack. I’ve also found that the World’s fire-red appearance has made it a lot easier to spot my power supply in an instant.

So that’s design.

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Now, I’m cognizant of the fact that some people have complaints on build quality of Twelve South’s products. I’m not really sure where that’s coming from as this has not been my experience with the PlugBug World, or other Twelve South products for that matter.

As someone who blogs for a living, I write in a variety of settings. I must have plugged my World into dozens of different wall outlets in hotel rooms, dormitories, apartments, coffee shops and restaurants.

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Even though it’s been my daily driver for the past six months or so, it has yet to show any signs of wear and tear stemming from daily use.

Verdict

The PlugBug is compact and charming.

Measuring 2.57 inches (6.53 cm) wide, 2.44 inches (6.2 cm) tall, 1.14 inches (2.9 cm) deep and weighing 0.22 pounds (102 grams), it’s comparatively smaller than a MacBook brick, slightly bigger than an iPad charger and a tad taller than the original PlugBug.

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A handy, small pouch is included to stowe both it and the plugs inside while you travel, commute to work and so forth.

On the downside, I wish the PlugBug provided 2.4 Amps of power like Apple’s 12W USB charger does. Be that as it may, the built-in 2.1-Amp USB port puts out enough power to recharge non-Retina iPads at full speed, or any iPhone and iPad mini model at double the speed of the charger it ships with.

Apple USB Power Adapters 002

By the way, Apple is now shipping its iPad Air 2 and iPad Air with a 10W USB Power Adapter. The iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 come with a 10W USB Power Adapter, while the original iPad mini (and all iPhone models) include a 5W USB Power Adapter in the box.

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Final Thoughts

The crazy-useful PlugBug World is the only travel charger you’ll ever need.

It’s incredibly versatile and way more capable than Apple’s $40 World Travel Adapter Kit. For just a $5 extra over Apple’s kit, the PlugBug World frees up USB ports on your Mac while giving you double the power of many existing wall chargers.

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Now, I’m perfectly aware that a $45 charger may not be your cup of tea. But bear this in mind: price is important but satisfaction is what you pay for.

In that regard, Twelve South’s nifty little charger delivers.

Summing up, the World simultaneously charges your MacBook and your favorite iOS device, or any USB-powered accessory for that matter. It includes handy world adapters for hassle-free plugging into most wall outlets you’ll encounter.

And piggy-backing it on Apple’s own 10W/12W USB power adapters turns it into a standalone charger with double the number of USB ports so you can charge two iOS devices at the same time.

What more could a power user ask for?

Pros

  • Convenient — compact design, carrying bag included, provides twice the power of many chargers, frees USB ports on MacBooks
  • Versatile — adds a 2.1-Amp USB port to any MacBook brick, can be used on its own or in conjunction with Apple’s wall chargers to double the number of USB ports
  • Global — ships with 4 different slide-on AC plugs for use with non-American-styled wall blades that are interchangeable between iPad/iPhone USB chargers and MacBook power bricks
  • Good value — Costs just $5 more than Apple’s World Travel Adapter Kit while replicating its functionality and doing so much more

Cons

  • Not upgradeable from the previous PlugBug model
  • Power plugs are non-collapsable
  • Does not put out 2.4 Amps of power like Apple’s 12W wall charger does

Interested?

The PlugBug World is $45 over at Amazon.

Have you used the PlugBug, or any other Twelve South product before? If so, share you impressions down in the comments.

Which third-party chargers are your favorites and why?

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  • john diaz

    Nice for travelers.

  • pauleebe

    If only it wasn’t hideous.

  • Merman123

    “In a word, it’s the charger Apple should have made itself.”

    That’s a lot for one word, haha.

  • Toukale

    Can we stop with those bs articles I see all over the web in regards to apple. People, you can’t expect Apple to be making those kind of things. When you are expecting to be selling $200 billion in sales a year you can’t be bother with all those little side projects I see everyone who knows better then current Apple management. No matter how many Apple could sell, they won’t move the needle. So let’s stop already with this nonsense.

    • Dan

      u mad bro?

  • The parts look like they barely fit together and the color is unappealing. However it is a very clever package.

    • Tommy

      And that’s the reason why Apple did not made it itself.
      It looks cheap and plasticky to me. Something only Christian would love.

  • Linton Findlay

    hard to justify when you can get on of these for £7

  • Tommy

    Wish they replaced the red parts with aluminum. Hmm.

  • Cameron

    the red on white is probably a deal breaker for so many people. Just ugly.