Usb Kvm Switches

Written by James McLean
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There was a time when one computer was considered more than enough for any household in the country. We used these versatile machines for everything from word processing to video games, and few users ever considered adding anything to the mix more elaborate than a printer.

Today it's not unusual to find homes with two or three computers in regular rotation, and dropping market prices only seem to be accelerating the trend. Many people keep separate, dedicated machines for media, number-crunching, web-surfing and more--all under the same roof. Some avid gamers even maintain older machines around just to play a single vintage title that is no longer compatible with newer systems.

Hardware Requirements

Unfortunately, the many advances we've made in usability with these machines generally starts and stops with what we can see on the screen. The jacks, cables and wires that tangle at our feet seem only to be multiplying, and larger towers have made it prohibitively difficult to climb back there and what is going on. That's why a number of homes with several computers tend to coalesce on one or two and forego the rest, bypassing the constant setup and breakdown that can eat into productive time.

The wireless boom has done some good in staving off the wiring problem, but the fact remains that few computers are made to share hardware without going through a lengthy home networking setup. If you're like most people, you may have wondered why your screen, keyboard and mouse can just switch seamlessly from one machine to the next. After all, most home computers use essentially the same jacks these days, don't they?

Enter KVM Switches

The KVM, or keyboard, video and mouse switch, is a technology that allows users to do exactly what so many people have been asking for. These clever boxes patch the same I/O devices through to any number of CPUs, giving you the freedom to switch among them as easily as you switch your television's input from cable to DVD. If you are tired of the ceaseless cycle of setup and breakdown, you may benefit from one of these machines.

Probably the single biggest advantage of the KVM method is that these products also allow you to toggle between completely different operating systems. The Mac Mini was designed to give PC users a taste of that dazzling Apple platform, and a good KVM hub can let you check in dozens of times a day. Instead of buying a bigger desk, all you need is a tiny shelf for the hardware that keeps everything working in concert.

Managing Inputs

The good news is that the computer industry has finally agreed on a few standards for jacks and other inputs. DVI, or Digital Video Interface, will soon overtake analog as the video protocol of choice, and these days nearly all keyboards use USB instead of the older PS/2 jacks. A good KVM hub will accommodate all the latest technologies and still provide backward compatibility for some sentimental favorites in your collection.

There are better ways to own and maintain more than one computer, and KVM switches represent one of the best. If you hate the constant back pain associated with sub-desk maintenance, it may be worth it to look into the newest KVM switches on the market today. The best of these can accommodate up to eight systems at once through a one-time setup that's over in minutes.


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