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Lenmar ChugPlug MacBook Air

When Apple updated the MacBook Air in 2013 it went for extended battery life in a big way. At a pinch you can get 12 hours from a single charge.

While that’s enough power to get through a long working day, there are always times when you need more. That’s the thinking behind Lenmar’s ChugPlug.

The NZ$180 ChugPlug is an integrated backup battery that gives you up to four hours more battery life.

Integrated back-up power

By integrated I mean when charging it slips smoothly into the power chain between a wall plug and the MacBook’s Magsafe power socket. Each end slots directly into the pull-apart power unit. Lights tell you when there is a full charge.

Later, when you’re out with your MacBook Air away from power outlets, it connects to the computer to boost the battery.

In round numbers it delivers about one-third of a full charge to the computer — that’s about four hours in normal use.

There are lights to tell you if it is fully charged and a button turns it off to save power when the back-up battery isn’t in use.

ChugPlug not plug-ugly

ChugPlug is nicely designed. It doesn’t look out-of-place with the official Apple hardware. I’ve seen back-up batteries that look like they belong in a steampunk laboratory.

It’s a handy and elegant way of solving a problem facing mobile MacBook Air owners.

I didn’t see any problems with the ChugPlug, in testing it worked exactly as promised.

I took the ChugPlug on a recent overnight trip to Sydney. On the way the airport security staff gave it a double take — clearly they hadn’t seen one before — another passenger asked me where I got it, so chalk that up as an indication there’s a real demand for this kind of hardware.

Carry that load

The only real drawback is the ChugPlug is big and heavy compared to the Air. It weighs 500g, my 13-inch MacBook Air weighs 1.35kg, so it adds about 40 percent to the weight.

It measures 225 x 72 x 27 mm. I often carry my laptop in a lightweight leather case. The ChugPlug is too big for this bag and its a challenge for my leather satchel. I ended up needing to use the backpack when taking it out for the day.

ChugPlug is simple idea, well-executed. If your work or lifestyle means you spend long stretches of time away from power sockets, the size and weight is a small price to pay for the convenience of more power.