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Need help choosing KVM or equivalent USB hardware/cabling

Last response: in Components
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April 17, 2011 5:59:48 PM

Hello,

I'm having a hard time figuring out a simple KVM-type setup that will let me switch between 2 computers. I have edited this so it's divided into sections so it can be skimmed a bit more easily. TIA...

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**** Setup ****
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Here is my setup:

Dell 2407WFBb monitor (using 1920x1200) with following (relevant) ports:

1 DVI
1 VGA
1 USB B Upstream
2 USB A Downstream

1 MacPro OS 10.5 Desktop (connected to monitor using DVI port)
1 laptop (connected to monitor using VGA port); currently a XP Dell laptop, but later perhaps a Mac OS X (Tiger or Snow Leopard, I have both) laptop
1 Logitech MX Revolution wireless USB mouse (wireless receiver connected to monitor USB-A downstream port)
1 Microsoft Natural Ergonomic wired USB keyboard (connected to monitor USB-A downstream port)
1 JBL Creature speaker system (3 piece, connected to MacPro audio input)

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**** How I do it currently ****
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I have found that I can use the same keyboard/mouse using the following
procedure:

1. Switch monitor input to use correct port (DVI for desktop MacPro, VGA for Dell laptop).
2. Swap USB A->B cable input from one computer to monitor's USB-B port. (I have two USB A->B cables, so I just unplug the one that's connected to the desktop and plug in the one connected to the laptop or vice versa.)

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**** My difficulties shopping/researching ****
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I looked at KVM switches on Amazon and found them a bit confusing. Many of them had dual VGA outputs, many had PS/2 keyboard connectors, some seemed to require a power cord and others didn't, some had keyboard hotkeys for switching between the two and others didn't. The reviews I read worried me as well, since some reported having lots of trouble with what I thought would be a simple device. I also don't understand the USB connectivity the products I looked at all that well--some of the devices had only 1 USB - B port and lots of USB - A ports and I wasn't sure that would work in this scenario. Lastly, some are quite expensive, and I wasn't sure I needed all their features.

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**** The actual question is here ****
*

Anyways, I would like to find a hardware device that would allow me to do the following:

1. Switch between the two different computers that I'm currently using. A mechanical switch is fine (and probably preferred, since I don't want yet another application/set of hotkeys that might conflict with something on either computer).
2. Not require rebooting or shutting down in order to switch. That is, it would be nice to have both computers running simultaneously, and be able to switch between them using this device.
3. Allow me to eventually use a Mac laptop in place of the Dell laptop. (I was thinking I could get the mini-DVI to VGA converter and just connect it to a VGA cable connected to my monitor.)
4. My laptop is currently XP, but later will be Windows 7. My Macs are both 10.5 (Tiger - desktop/laptop) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard - laptop).
5. Ideally, minimize the additional number of cables and adapters that I need to connect. (I don't care about the cost as much, but I do care about input/output quality and feel that I have a lot of cables running around already.)
6. I do not anticipate having to support more than 2 computers connected to this setup at the same time. I would use the desktop and either the Dell laptop or a Mac laptop, but not all three at once.
7. I am content to leave the keyboard and mouse connected to the USB-A ports on the monitor, but can change that if necessary.
8. Ideally (but not necessarily) support the audio inputs from my speakers so that I might be able to listen to audio from either computer.
9. Ideally (but not necessarily) *not* require a power cord.
10. Ideally (but not necessarily) *not* require installed software on any of the computers.
11. Ideally (but not necessarily) use the existing DVI port on my monitor for my desktop. (I am worried--and this may be incorrect--that the video quality from my MacPro desktop would degrade if I had to put on a VGA adapter on the DVI cable. I would not be watching movies or gaming on the laptop machine in this setup, but I might from the desktop.) I am content to use the monitor's input button to switch between the DVI (desktop) display and the VGA (laptop) display.
12. Ideally, support a dual monitor setup in the future. (Since the device need not handle the video connections anyways.)
13. Ideally, this would not be a $400 device.


Thanks for any suggestions and advice, and sorry for the tediously long post.

Joe

Best solution

April 29, 2011 5:35:43 PM

It seems like you are looking for this - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Its vga, so you'll need dvi adapters
Has audio
has usb for mouse & keyboard
2 computer
has hardware switch
no rebooting
no need for new cables
no power cord
no software
$30

btw newegg.com is much better than amazon for electronics
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May 20, 2011 3:45:28 AM

Best answer selected by questioningjoe.
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May 20, 2011 5:43:06 AM

David617,

Thank you for taking a look at my dilemma--and sorry it took me so long to reply.

I ended up doing something similar to what you suggested. I bought a TrendNet TK-209, and I realized it is basically is a USB hub, which simplified the way I was thinking about it. Just in case anyone else stumbles across this, here's how I have it set up:

Trendnet video input to Monitor VGA in
Trendnet video/usb combo cable #1 to desktop PC, but don't plug in video (see next), only USB
MacPro Desktop DVI to Monitor DVI (direct, avoiding Trendnet, so that I can use DVI, which this Trendnet does not support)
Trendnet video/usb combo cable #2 to Laptop; plug both USB and video cables into laptop
Trendnet USB (keyboard label, though I'm sure you could use the other USB port) to Monitor USB hub
Mouse and keyboard plugged into Monitor USB hub
Trendnet audio-in #1 to MacPro sound output
Trendnet audio-in #2 to laptop sound output
Trendnet audio-out to speakers

I can also connect my iPhone to the speakers (when I'm using the Mac) through the Microphone port on the Trendnet, if I have a program called LineIn (http://www.rogueamoeba.com/freebies/) that allows me to treat an input (the microphone port on the Trendnet) as another input. (I use the Microphone port only so I don't have to unplug the existing connection to my desktop machine--it's not necessary if you use a splitter or don't care about switching cables. If I'm using the laptop I just unplug the sound input cable from the laptop and plug it directly into the iPhone--it needs a little Female/Male plug to get a good connection, though).

With this configuration, I can switch the laptop or desktop to use the monitor (using monitor input controls, not Trendnet), share the keyboard and mouse (from the Monitor's USB hub, via the Trendnet switch), play music from either laptop or desktop to the speakers, or alternately connect my iPhone and play audio from it. There's a slight delay when switching from desktop to laptop, but it's not a big deal to me. I'm pretty happy with the Trendnet, although it doesn't sit on desk neatly with all the cables plugged into it.

QJ



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