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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Belkin USB KVM - first impression


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dan828

 
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Member Since: Jan 12, 2005
Location: Ceres, Ca
Posts: 670
dan828 is a jewel in the roughdan828 is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: iPad 32 GB 3G

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I just bought a Belkin KVM switch at Fry's for $60.00. It has VGA video, USB keyboard/mouse, and Audio out/in ports. They seem to be out of stock at most online places but Fry's seems to be able to get most anything, which is the only reason I ever go there because the customer support/sales staff is terrible.

It's a nice compact unit with built in cabling for two systems, so nothing extra to buy (some don't come with the cables). They had some nicer 4 port ones in a nice looking desktop package and built in cable management, DVI and other stuff, but I didn't need that many ports and didn't want to fork out $150.00 for one.

Anyways, I opened it up, plugged it all in to my PC and Mac Mini using an Apple Pro keyboard, a Microsoft 5 button thumb trackball with scroll wheel, and an Altec Lansing 2.1 speaker system. It works like a champ. No set up and no drivers (unless you want software switching on the PC, which I didn't bother with since you can't do it with OS X anyways)-- it works right out of the box and everything seems to be functional including the sound up/down keys and the CD eject button (sound keys work in XP as well, but not the eject).

It has a button on top with built in LEDs to show you which system is currently on, and to switch back and forth you just tap the button and it switches. There is a slight delay after the switch before the keyboard and mouse will work. This takes about a 8 seconds on the Mac and about 5 seconds on the PC (and is associated with a couple of de-doop sounds that you get when you plug in a USB device on XP, the Mini is silent when this happens). You also can't switch back again for another 15 seconds or so (maybe a built in feature to prevent accidentally switching back while you still have your finger on the button).

It seems to be a nifty little device that works well and it acts for the keyboard and mouse like you just plugged them in to the computer, so there are not any emulation problems like I've seen on other KVM switches-- some of the PS2 ones emulate the keyboard and mouse to the computer all of the time (you can't always unplug PS2 devices and get them working again after you plug them back in), and this can cause loss of functionality with some keyboards and mice.

I'd like it to have a seprate switch for the audio (leave iTunes music playing while using the PC for instance), but it doesn't.

All and all it seems to be a great solution for sharing a USB keyboard, mouse, monitor, and speaker system between a PC and a Mac, although it is about twice as much as your average PS2 KVM switch without the audio capabilities.

Also, I now notice that video on my Mini is much dimmer than on the PC, but it's not bad enought to be a problem. Oh well.

If anyone has any questions about it I'd be glad to try and answer.

Edit: If I boot the Mini up without the switch being set to it, the video defaults to a lower resolution and requires that I "detect displays" in order to get it back to the resolution I want (easy to do with the display preferences icon on the top bar). Also, for more than basic two button and scroll wheel functionality with the MS optical trackball, it does need the MS intellipoint driver for Mac. So since I wanted to use the other buttons I installed it and I now have all the options.

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caribiner23

 
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Member Since: Feb 06, 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,499
caribiner23 is just really nicecaribiner23 is just really nicecaribiner23 is just really nicecaribiner23 is just really nicecaribiner23 is just really nice
Mac Specs: MacBook Pro Retina 13" among far too many other Apple products

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Thanks for the review, Dan! I was looking at the same thing as a potential solution to switching between a Mac Mini and my PC (if I get around to justifying a Mac Mini, having just bought an iBook in January :-).

One question: can you tell us the model number of your switch? I know a lot of the retailers are out of the unit, but many eBay sellers seem to have it. I just want to make sure the model numbers match.

Thanks again for sharing with all of us!

Edit: I should have followed your link. It's model F1DL102U.
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dan828

 
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Member Since: Jan 12, 2005
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dan828 is a jewel in the roughdan828 is a jewel in the rough
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Never mind, I see you found it.
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jessica
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Dan, thanks for the review. I just purchased this unit myself. It is not so bad. My switching time vs time when keyboard and mouse start to work is under 5 seconds on both systems. XP Pro vs Panther OS. (Desktop = windows laptop = mac).
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warrenbert
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I have this switch also. Does it bother anyone else that the cables connect from the front and back of the unit? It is impossible to have it sitting on your desk without cables laying across your desk. My old PS/2 switch had all of the connectors on the rear of the unit and sat nice and tidy on the rear edge of my desk.

Where are you supposed to put this thing?
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jessica
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Check out this image Desk

My switch is right on top of that black tower.
If you look here: Photo two you can see the cables from the powerbook.
Sorry for the writing the photo was for another forum.
I am disappointed with the design, but it functions and that is truly what matters.

I'm ugly but I work hahaha give it a shot!
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gdestiny
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hey jess, you need a bigger desk! here's a pic of my current rig: http://calvin.premiopc.com/index.htm#rig

i need to update the pic w/ my mac mini. can you believe i can fit the mac mini below the left and middle monitor AND a set of apple kb/mouse?

btw, good choice on the logitech MX1000 for the PC...
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dan828

 
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Member Since: Jan 12, 2005
Location: Ceres, Ca
Posts: 670
dan828 is a jewel in the roughdan828 is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: iPad 32 GB 3G

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdestiny
hey jess, you need a bigger desk! here's a pic of my current rig: http://calvin.premiopc.com/index.htm#rig

i need to update the pic w/ my mac mini. can you believe i can fit the mac mini below the left and middle monitor AND a set of apple kb/mouse?

btw, good choice on the logitech MX1000 for the PC...
Dude, I haven't seen that leafy background since 1999. I forget where it came from, but I remember it being some free windows wallpaper thing.

Anyways, did you really blow 6 benjamins on a chair?
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mcsenerd

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2005
Posts: 190
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Mac Specs: Mac Mini 1.58 - 60 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive - 1 GB PC3200 & 1.33 Ghz 12" iBook w/ 80 GB 7200 RPM HD

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How is the audio quality on it? I had the IOgear KVM and it blew chunks when it came to feedback and audio quality.
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gdestiny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dan828
Dude, I haven't seen that leafy background since 1999. I forget where it came from, but I remember it being some free windows wallpaper thing.

Anyways, did you really blow 6 benjamins on a chair?
yeah, my website's been around since 1997. i got that leafy theme from Jelane's Web Graphics (404 now of course).

i got my aeron chair here: http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/prod...5674&grpType=0

my wife thought i was crazy spending six bills on A CHAIR. but she uses it as much as i do now.
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dan828

 
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Member Since: Jan 12, 2005
Location: Ceres, Ca
Posts: 670
dan828 is a jewel in the roughdan828 is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: iPad 32 GB 3G

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdestiny
yeah, my website's been around since 1997. i got that leafy theme from Jelane's Web Graphics (404 now of course).
Yeah, I clicked on your link and felt the '90s nostalgia.
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