Review: Twelve South's $50 PlugBug Duo is a Useful Travel Companion

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Twelve South has long offered a PlugBug accessory designed to provide interchangeable plugs for travel purposes, but earlier this month, an updated version debuted that adds an extra USB port.

    The new Twelve South PlugBug Duo is an ideal travel accessory because it adds international plugs to your MacBook adapter and it lets you charge accessories like an iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch while charging your laptop.


    Design wise, when it comes out of the box, the PlugBug Duo is similar in shape to the power adapter for a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air. To use it, though, the bottom portion snaps off to reveal a slide and hook mechanism.


    Attaching it to a MacBook power adapter requires popping off the plug part of the adapter and replacing it with the snap-on PlugBug Duo component. It's a simple replacement that took me a few seconds to do.


    PlugBug Duo is made from a bright red plastic material that's quite eye catching, and while the quality of the plastic doesn't quite measure up to the Apple power adapter, it's not far off.


    The PlugBug Duo can serve as a permanent replacement for the plug portion of the power adapter, for use both at home and when traveling. Size wise, it lines up well with the 87W MacBook Pro charger, but it's larger than the 29W/30W and 61W chargers for the MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro.

    In my photos, for example, I've attached it to the MacBook charger. It's wider on the right side than the power adapter and it adds more than an inch of bulk at the top due to the two USB ports, but it takes up less space than separate charging bricks for my iPad and iPhone.


    The PlugBug Duo does add extra size to a power adapter, but I didn't feel like it was so bulky that it became less portable.

    It's worth noting that with the PlugBug attached, you're not able to use the Power Adapter Extension Cable. If you want to use the Extension Cable, you will need to remove the PlugBug to attach it to the power adapter. I don't normally use the Extension Cable, especially when traveling, so I didn't have a problem with the tradeoff.

    There are two USB-A ports on the PlugBug Duo, one that's 2.1A and ideal for charging an iPad and one that's 1A, which is suitable for an iPhone or Apple Watch. You can also use the 2.1A port to more quickly charge an iPhone, but this isn't an adapter you'll want to use for something like two iPads. I found it particularly useful for charging an iPhone in the 2.1A port and an Apple Watch in the 1A port.

    While you can use the PlugBug Duo at home to add extra USB ports to your power adapter, where it really shines is travel. It's useful not having to take along extra power adapters for all of your devices. As with the standard power adapter, the prongs on the PlugBug tuck in when it's not in use (this is limited to the U.S. and China adapters).

    PlugBug Duo is ideal for international travel because the plug portion snaps off and Twelve South ships it with several other interchangeable adapters that can be used in other countries.


    There are adapters for Europe, China, Australia/New Zealand, North America, and the UK, with more than 150 countries covered in total. I didn't travel out of the country during my time testing the PlugBug, but I can say that it's pretty simple to swap out the plugs when needed.

    Even if you're not traveling abroad, PlugBug Duo has the potential to be useful just because it lets you charge a MacBook and two other accessories at one time.


    I do wish that Twelve South had included some kind of little pouch to keep the adapters in place when not in use, but with no pouch, I'm using the box, which does have convenient cutouts for each one.

    I also wish that the PlugBug Duo had a place to wrap up the cord when packing it up for travel, but Apple's own USB-C power adapters don't offer that functionality either so I can't complain too much.

    PlugBug Duo worked well with the two USB-C power adapters I tested it with, but it's also compatible with all MagSafe 2 power adapters, all MagSafe power adapters, and the 12W iPad power adapter.

    Bottom Line

    The PlugBug Duo is a great little travel accessory that offers a lot of utility, offering up different adapters for travel and two USB-A ports so you don't need to carry around additional adapters for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.


    It's not cheap at $50, but the utility that's offered seems worth the price if you travel on a frequent basis.

    How to Purchase

    The PlugBug Duo can be purchased from the Twelve South website for $49.99.

    Note: Twelve South provided MacRumors with a PlugBug Duo for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

    Article Link: Review: Twelve South's $50 PlugBug Duo is a Useful Travel Companion
  2. bruinselmann macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2009
    I’ve never understood why Apple didn’t just add one or two USB ports to its MacBook charger.
  3. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    For the size you can get an Anker PowerCore Fusion charger which has a 5000mAh battery and dual USB ports with a plug that folds away for $30—often cheaper on sale—and it even comes in red like this weird thing, lol.

  4. PowerBook-G5 macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2013
    The United States of America
    Let me tell you...the PlugBug is a piece of junk! I ordered one a few years ago, and it was dead on arrival. I contacted TwelveSouth and got a replacement, which was also DOA. At that point, I gave up with the product. I also wasn't a fan of the plastic they used. It didn't seem very high-quality. My previous experiences with this type of device from TwelveSouth have left a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm certainly not going to bother with the company anymore.
  5. McG2k1 macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2011
    Please stop making sense.
  6. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
  7. kycophpd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2009
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Why did I read Butt Plug when I read this article?
  8. riverfreak macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2005
    Thonglor, Bangkok
    No way it’s gonna be called the iPhone Xs Max. Oh wait, I mean, $50 for two USB ports?
  9. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
  10. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Good find, MR repeats itself over and over, guess they need the money, although I doubt it.

    As for the Plugbug, too bulky, plenty of other products which are both cheaper and better.
  11. christarp macrumors 6502


    Oct 29, 2013
    man this thing looks hideous. Straight fisher price plastic lookin thing, and why in the world would they choose that color?
  12. stygs macrumors newbie

    Jul 6, 2017
    I’m sorry but not being able to use the Extension Cord with the PlugBug is a major (inexcusable) design flaw.
  13. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    I'd hardly say that not accommodating an optional, no-longer-included piece of equipment is hardly inexcusable.

    It also doesn't have a headphone jack. (;
  14. JetTester macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2014
    Two USB ports, and only 1 is 2.1A? Lame. Better to use the adapters you can get from Apple, and buy a cheaper Anker power adapter. I travel with one that has 4 2.1A ports, and can charge any combination of iPhones and iPads.
  15. stygs macrumors newbie

    Jul 6, 2017
    I only go that far because all the components are there. Their plug adapts the exact same way the extension cable would adapt, so it appears. I’m guessing the plastic end insulating the conductors is just shaped differently.

    So to me, from a design perspective, it would’ve been pretty simple to have it accept the extension cable, which would extend its usefulness to people who use the extension cable. It wouldn’t have taken any extra effort, from what I can tell.

    If it were a completely different design, I’d say “okay they did it different”, but as it stands it seems they just didn’t think it through completely.
  16. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Freudian slip?
  17. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
    Pity it wasn't a travel adapter. This thing is awesome and for a great price. I'm traveling to Australia with the family next month and need a charger for all our devices!
  18. Kirb112 macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2013
    Seems ugly and slightly huge.
  19. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Yeah they make little adapters that are fairly inexpensive on Amazon.
  20. jlc1978 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2009
    I had one of the original ones. It was real convenient when traveling until after a few years it came apart. I would not bu another 12South product as a result.
  21. getoffmylawn macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2012
    The output on that is 5V 2A. It’s designed to charge cell phones, not a MacBook Pro.
  22. ignatius345 macrumors 68020

    Aug 20, 2015
    For my trip to Europe, I bought a simple universal plug adapter for about $10 that works with any of my US devices, and then once I got there I bought a generic USB charger with two charging ports for another €5.
  23. Awesom-0 macrumors member


    Oct 10, 2017
  24. dantastic macrumors 6502a


    Jan 21, 2011
    I don't mind MacRumors plugging products but this is complete and utter rubbish. The thing is, if you lower the bar and plug any piece of **** that lands on your desk you are going to lose credibility as a result.
  25. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I was just providing that in case people wanted a good two port USB charger. This thing doesn't actually charge a MBP, but just piggy backs on it's power brick. You can still use the power brick separately. To be honest it's not that useful. You can also get international plugs that slot onto the MBP connector itself. It's why it's designed that way.

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25 September 6, 2018