KVM Recommendations

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More techy questions, I wonder if I’ll ever have the perfect setup?

Anyway, I have, as I may have mentioned, a MacBook. It’s a wonderful little laptop but the screen is quite small and I do find that I miss having a mouse. The obvious answer is to plugin a mouse, and hook up the laptop to my nice LCD screen but, there are still sometimes when I want to use my PC and…

Well, long story short. Rather than having a spare keyboard and mouse lying around cluttering up my little office, I think it’d be much easier to install a KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Mouse).

But which one? Price is a LARGE factor, which is a bit of a worry as most of the cheaper KVM switches get scathing reviews. Belkin in particular seem to be a bit hit or miss.

I’m not fussed about audio outputs, and it has to be USB ports for keyboard and mouse, not PS/2. Both monitor inputs are DVI with DVI out a must.

Small form factor is another requirement, with something that doesn’t look like it was engineered in 1973 being a must. Have you SEEN some of the stuff out there? Grey plastic boxes with rudimentary, functional styling. Ick.

Over to you then, anyone seen anything that you’d recommend? Do you use a KVM switch?

I’m leaving the whole PC/Mac keyboard thing right now, I’ll worry about that later…

12 comments

  1. I recommend Belkin’s Flip USB model, got one last year to run a mac with and it was so easy to use, a little too easy it seemed, it also ran audio which was nice. Plus it had a nice big button to push for the changeover and it’s not grey neither

  2. I’d be of the opinion that KVM switches needn’t bee all that expensive – I’ve got a cheap one at work that’s given me no trouble in years – but then I’m not asking for USB or DVI.
    I’ll check what brand the work one is on Tuesday, in case you’d like to assume they’re OK. I think it’s a Belkin, though.

    What issues are the reviewers getting to prompt scathing reviews?

  3. Well, I can’t say I’ve ever had much success with KVM systems. I’ve set up a few in my time, too. (Oy. Too many, actually!)

    The biggest problem? The cables.

    Oh, and the mouse tracking issues. The best I ever managed was a “don’t use the mouse unless you have to”.

    Personally, I’d check to see if the money might not be better spent on a decent keyboard, mouse and LCD screen. I know for a fact – I took a KVM switch apart not that long ago – that the “technology” hasn’t changed. (Just how difficult is it to solder wire “A” to pin “A”? Apparently it’s an insurmountable problem…)

    But, go to a specialist, get a try-out unit (buy it with a good credit card, AmEx, for example) and see if it works. Get a promise – in writing – that you can return the thing at your cost if it doesn’t work. (That way you’re not paying some 10% or 15% “restocking” fee.)

    Sorry, I’ve set up enough that KVM’s make me twitch…

    Carolyn Ann

  4. I use an Iogear 2 Compact USB KVM Switch and haven’t had any issues with it at all. It’s USB but doesn’t have DVI.

    I think cheap switches typically fine. I haven’t had any issues with the cheapos I’ve used.

  5. I cant understand why there seem to be so few ‘consumer’ level units that fit the specs.

    I know it doesn’t help you but but my external LCDs have dual DVI inputs 🙂

    K

  6. Why not skip the hardware altogether and get a software switch? I have three computers on my desk, a ThinkPad running XP, an iMac and a Powerbook running OS X. Using Synergy I am able to use the iMac keyboard and mouse to operate either of the other machines. No additional cables or cords.

    When I travel with the two laptops I use a similar setup to use the keyboard and trackpad on one machine to operate the other.

    Mark

  7. Reminder: It needs to switch screen inputs, I don’t want to use the MacBook screen with an external keyboard and mouse.

    So Bluetooth is fine for keyboard and mouse and might be an option (I can manually switch the monitor inputs and use VGA for PC and DVI for the Mac).

    Synergy might be an option too, for the same reason. Will look into that.

  8. Ahh Synergy is aimed at multi-screen setups. It WOULD work but I’d prefer a full, ‘single switch’ solution. If I used Synergy I’d still have to switch between monitor inputs, and it would mean the PC would be running at VGA rather than DVI…

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