DVI/USB KVM Switch Issues
April 2, 2005
Our story thus far… About a year ago, I purchased a Belkin DVI/USB KVM switch. It worked alright, and a few months later I posted a brief review of it..
(A brief aside—what’s a DVI-USB KVM switch? A KVM switch is a device to switch a single Keyboard, Monitor (the V is for video) and Mouse between multiple computers. DVI is a standard for digital interfaces to (usually) LCD monitors, a more accurate (hopefully) alternative to analog VGA. Mice and Keyboards used to use their own interface, but now are often USB based. So a DVI-USB KVM switch is meant to switch a DVI-based monitor (usually LCD), and a USB keyboard and mouse between multiple computers)
It turns out that I’m about the only one who seems to have had any luck with the Belkin unit. Since last summer, the post has received nearly a hundred comments discussing the multiple problems people have had with these units, some competing units, and problems with those.
It seems that making a good working DVI switch is a lot more problematic than making a VGA unit. This is reflected in the price, too—low-end VGA KVMs (even USB versions) can be had for around $20 – $30; the DVI units start at about $175 and go up—sometimes way up.
I’m starting this new post for two reasons.
First, there is a lot of good discussion going on on the old one, but it’s getting very long (and probably slow to load for those on slow connections)—I wanted to add a new post and continue the discussion with it.
Second, my luck with the Belkin unit (maybe I got one of the few that ever sorta worked right?) ran out yesterday. It lost it’s little mind, doesn’t switch, and just beeps continuously. Since I use the unit to switch between my Powerbook (my normal working machine) and a desktop PC I use mostly to check that web sites work properly in Internet Explorer and to process a little video, I’m rather stuck for being able to use the PC at the moment.
Obviously, I won’t be getting another of these units (in fact, I don’t think they’re available right now), so my choice is between one of the three or four competitors that everyone has identified and…
Doing without. It’s pretty clear that the state of the art in DVI KVMs has a ways to go. Not only that, but a reasonably well-functioning 17” DVI LCD monitor can be had for right in the same price range as a new switch. If I can find the desk space, I could add one of those for the PC, keep using my 19” LCD for the Mac, and pick up one of the $20 – $30 VGA KVMs to switch my keyboard and mouse back and forth (leaving both monitors running all the time).
I could go that route, give the KVM switch manufacturers a little time to get their act together, and look at going back to a fully switched system down the line somewhere (I can always find someplace to put a 17” LCD.)
Has anyone gone this route yet? Any issues with using a VGA KVM without the monitor?
Alternatively, does anyone have anything really nice to say about any of the competing units? There has been some back and forth on several, but no really glowing reports that I recall…