Since its establishment in the year 1979, ATEN, a specialist in the production of management and connectivity solutions, has had only one aim in its sights; to create “Simply Better Connections”. It’s a brand that believes we don’t have to cramp our lifestyles to get and stay connected to the data and the people that matter to us. For it, the creation of sharing solutions that enable us to seamlessly and efficiently enjoy all these, and a little more, is its mission. The brand comprises of innovative products that provide solutions for connectivity, professional video/audio and earth-friendly energy to its target consumers, including home offices, small offices, small-medium businesses, and enterprise customers.
The ATEN 4-Port USB KVMP Switch is one of ATEN’s CubiQ series, a collection of revolutionary KVM switches. This 4-port KVM switch allows the user, that’s you, to easily connect and operate 4 different computers at a time. It’s DVI and audio enabled so you get quality video with a 1920 x 1200/60 maximum resolution and synchronized audio as you work. On its rear panel, you’ll find a portion marked “console” with ports for a monitor, USB ports for keyboard and mouse, microphone and speaker jacks. There are four other portions with similar input ports for the four systems you’ll be connecting.
There is also the added benefit of its 2 USB 2.0 ports to which printers, hubs, drives and any other peripheral devices can be connected. What’s impressive here is that all four computers have access to these devices, albeit on a “one computer at a time” basis. That’s quite neat, considering its compact design and size. Here are some more awesome features:
Just in case you have any questions, the ATEN support team provides excellent customer service; we thought you should know that.
IOGear is a major producer of connectivity devices with a line of complete Connectivity, Desktop, Digital Video/Audio, Mobility, Gaming and KVM solutions. It is a brand driven by quality to manufacture the best products for performance, durability and reliability. Its goal is to help customers get the best from their tech devices in both work and play. This company is continuously evolving to design business solutions that re-invent product categories.
The IOGear 2-Port USB VGA KVM Switch is designed to give you access to two computers at a time, using a VGA monitor and a USB-wired mouse and keyboard. It comes with a bonded inbuilt cable design that saves you the space all those individual cables would take up, and it also saves the extra cost of having to get separate wires as well. The 2 cables are located at one end of the switch and with them you can connect to the laptop or desktop computer of your choice. Its 6-foot remote switch cable is also located at the same end and it allows you to switch between computers with simple clicks of its buttons.
On the adjacent side of the cables, you’ll find a VGA monitor port with which the monitor is connected to the switch via VGA cable (not included) and 2 USB ports for your wired keyboard and mouse. For video, it supports a maximum of 2048x1536 resolution, which means you can use monitors with large screens and still get great quality pictures.
With this switch, you can use Windows 7 (or later), Mac OS 9 (or later) and Sun Solaris 9 (yeah, or later too) operating systems. It supports Mac keyboard and programmable mice with not more than 3 buttons as well. There is also a 3-year limited warranty. Its other features include:
For those of you looking for a Dual Monitor KVM Switch, the IOGEAR 2-Port 4K Dual View DisplayPort KVMP with USB 3.0 Hub and Audio is a techy favorite.
ConnectPRO was established in 1992 by a computer engineer who made custom-built integrated automation devices for a number of his friends. From those humble beginnings twenty-five years ago, this brand has grown into a ground-breaking innovator that can boast of adding its own touch to KVM switching technology. Today, it remains committed to producing customized first-rate engineering solutions that include premium cables, KVM switches, video splitters, video switches and products for hands-free device control and management. For ConnectPRO, no job is too small and the best measurement for success is customer satisfaction.
This ConnectPRO UD 12-Port KVM Switch comes in a package complete with all the necessary cables and a power adapter. With this switch, you get to connect to and control 12 different computers at the same time using a DVI monitor and a USB-wired keyboard and mouse. It works with any version of Windows, OS X and Linux operating systems, and is also compatible with touchscreen computers.
On the rear panel, the console portion has 1 port for your DVI monitor which supports monitors with up to 1920×1080 resolution for crystal clear display. It also has 2 USB 2.0 ports for the mouse and keyboard; you should note that these ports are best suited for one hundred percent USB HID peripherals. Which brings us to the manufacturer’s patented DDM (Dynamic Device Mapping) that this big boy comes with. This feature allows a constant connection between the computers, keyboard and mouse so that you get a truly instantaneous transfer when you switch from one computer to another.
This switch has clearly-labeled buttons on its front panel that are backlit; they alternate between red, orange and green to indicate the current status of each computer. They’re also used to switch between ports. For a computer or port selection option that doesn’t require any stretching, there is hot-key support.
Here are more KVM switches from ConnectPRO for your consideration:
In 1990, TRENDnet set up shop in Torrance, California, and set out to establish itself as the global brand it is today. Its growth has been marked by stellar performance that’s caught the eyes of the international community and earned it quite the number of awards; some of its most recent achievements include PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice in 2013 for its TEW-812DRU router, PC World’s vote for Top Quality Brand in 2009 and CRN’s Top 5 USA Networking Brand in 2009. With a desire to enable users to enjoy multimedia content, broadband access and shared peripherals for true connectivity. Its product portfolio consists of Wireless, Powerline, PoE, Internet Camera, Switch, USB/FireWire, Print Server, Modem, Network Adapter, KVM and Multimedia products.
The TRENDnet 4-Port USB KVM Switch Kit comes with all the cables needed to connect 4 CPUs to the switch. The cables include VGA/USB cables, speaker and microphone jacks so you can easily access all four computers using the console’s VGA monitor, mouse and keyboard and also enjoy 2-way audio content through the speaker and microphone connected to the console. The VGA interface is compatible with monitors with up to 2048 x 1536 resolutions, giving maximum picture clarity even on screens with a large display.
The switch supports both Windows and Linux operating systems and allows you to work from PCs, Mac Mini, iMac and Macintosh G3/G4/G5. Getting this unit up and running is a walk in the park as it doesn’t require your installing any driver software; it’s basically plug-and-play. It has an Autoscan function that switches, automatically, between the 4 connected computers for a hands-free computer monitoring. 4 push-buttons port/computer selections on the switch with their indicators take away the guesswork from deciding what computer is connected to what port.
Here are some more features of this KVM switch:
There is a 2-year limited warranty backing this unit. For best results, the manufacturer advices it should be used with wired keyboards and mice.
When Rosewill opened its doors for business in 2004, it hit the ground running as it put all that was necessary into manufacturing tech products that were reliable as computer accessories and recognizable as high-quality solutions. Its first products comprised such computer components as power supplies, computer cases, cables, keyboards and mice. Today, the brand has grown and strategically developed its product line and has gone on to carve a niche for itself in the gaming and home electronics markets. It’s constantly developing new products and updating existing ones to ensure its customers are able to get the most recent technology and a consistently great quality.
The Rosewill 2-Port USB KVM Switch recalls the saying “good things come in small packages”; well, that’s a truism for this little guy. It has its cables built into its rear and saves you the hassle of having to make the connections yourself. The cables attached include 2 VGA cables, 4 USB cables (for the keyboards and mice of the computers to be connected). The cables are the split-style sort so you don’t have to worry about where all those cables are going to lie. On the front panel, we have the console portion with a VGA interface and 2 ports for a USB-wired keyboard and mouse that connects the entire set up to a VGA monitor with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536, great for clear display on large screens, and the dedicated keyboard and mouse.
It has a remote that’s also built into its rear panel with which you’re transferred from one device to the other with a few clicks of its push-button. With this switch, you can work from any operating system as it supports Windows, Mac and Sun Solaris. Another thing we’d like to gush about is its price – it’s affordable and gives you value for every cent spent.
Here’s another KVM switch from this company:
You also get great customer support from the tech guys at Rosewill.
Multitasking, a blessing or curse? Well, we like to think the answer to that question is based on how you approach the issue of multitasking. Picture this instance: for some reason, you have to use more than one computer at a time, probably for work, but then you discover you’re going to need more space than you have to accommodate the new entrants. Then the struggle begins, you relocate the former occupants of your desk space and go the extra mile of squeezing in a rack or table; you then proceed to arrange your computers, keyboards, mice, speakers and all the other accessories in a manner that will maximize the little space.
When you’re done, you stand back and inspect your work. Shaking your head at the result, you tell yourself you’ll make do but when you find yourself stretching and bending at unnatural angles to reach the audio/mic port behind Computer 2 or to reconnect the USB-wired mouse that you accidentally disconnected while trying to reposition the screen so you can type an urgent email on Computer 1. You end up tense and frustrated. This picture definitely doesn’t look like a blessing!
Now, instead of going through all these steps, you decided to take advantage of technology’s benevolence and get yourself a clever device that will have you tossing out the idea of getting extra keyboards, mice, monitors or any other such hardware and going instead for a more streamlined and unified control option that will allow you to control all your computers from a single keyboard, mouse and monitor without moving from your seat, thereby increasing your overall productivity and keeping you from insanity – now, that’s definitely a blessing.
What’s this device to which we allude, you may ask?
It’s none other than a KVM switch. It’s a computer solution that does all that has been described above and a little more. With it, whether you’re working from your home office desk or in a commercial server room, you get to achieve more in less time and with fewer dollars. KVM switches come in a variety of designs; while some of them connect you to 2 computers at once, some others can do so for 16 computers and more. Many of them can be daisy-chained with USB hubs to connect dozens of computers. We know that you’re on a search for the best KVM switch and we hope our guide will make your search a short but rewarding one.
The price of a KVM switch is basically determined by its features. An 8-port switch will cost more than a 2-port switch but not as much as one with 16 ports. Here is another one; a 2-port switch that allows for extra devices, like printers, to be connected and shared between the computers will sell for more than another 2-port switch that lacks such a feature; the more basic its functionality, the less it will cost. You’ll find KVM switches selling for $15 to $1200 and more. We did find cheap KVM switches but we weren’t pleased with the quality, so we passed and you should too.
There are certain things you’ve got to have at the back of mind as you shop for a KVM switch. You have to know how many computers you intend to connect. You also have to specify whether you want them connected for audio, video, text or all three? Then there’s the issue of operating systems – whichever switch you choose needs to be compatible with your computers. Other important features to look out for include:
KVM switches are designed to be specific to operating systems, video display platforms and, on some occasions, hardware. In the case of operating systems, many of these switches have “multi-platform OS” written on their packages or features page but you’ll have to pay more attention as they usually mean about 2 to 4 operating systems are supported. The most common operating systems supported by a majority of these switches are Windows, Mac, Linux, Sun, and Ubuntu. Ensure you verify the operating system and the version supported by a KVM switch before paying for it.
You’ll find stuff like VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort in KVM switch’s name. These describe the type of video display cable the unit will work with. VGA has been around the longest by far, but it’s still very much in active duty and can be found in a lot of computer monitors today. DVI is available in 3 types: DVI-I (integrated), DVI-D (digital) and DVI-A (analogue). Switches with this video display will specify which of the types is supported; we did find a lot of DVI-Is though. HDMI and DisplayPort are the latest in video display technology; they’ll give you more colors and maximum resolutions. Remember to match this to the available outputs on your computers as well as the input on your monitor.
How many computers do you want to connect? How many peripheral devices, apart from the keyboard and mouse that will form a part of the console, do want to add? Knowing the answer to these questions will save you from spending more than you need to. The least number of computers that can be connected to a KVM switch is 2 and it can go as high as 32. In a commercial or industrial set-up with more than 100 computers, the KVMs are daisy-chained or cascaded to accommodate more PCs. If you want to add a printer or any other peripherals to the network, it’s best you find a switch with extra ports for that. Lest we forget, the ports are usually any version of USB interface.
Ensure you end up with a switch that has a resolution compatible with your monitors otherwise you’re going to have error messages informing you of the mismatch when you try to connect. A KVM switch’s resolution is generally dependent on the type of video display it comes with and so a switch won’t have a higher resolution or lower resolution than its display cable. Make sure that it also has audio capabilities as well – check for audio ports or jacks to confirm this.
Check out seemingly little things like cable length as it can make or break the rewards of getting a switch. Consider the distance between the computers and devices you’re connecting then find a switch with cables that will conveniently cover that distance.