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Old Nov 5, 2010, 11:19 AM   #1
miata
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MBA device switching with MBP -- USB & FW

I'm looking at getting a 13" MBA to use for work and will use my older 15" MBP for more I/O intensive talks like video. To make this work I would like a way of switching the monitor and USB between the two systems. Is anybody out there doing something like this?

Right now I have a number of USB components that I would like to switch including: Apple keyboard, trackball, Contour Shuttle, a couple of external HDDs, a Blu-ray burner and a Scanner. However, when I am using the MBP I would like to connect the HDDs and BD drive via Firewire. I think I probably want to use both of the MBA USB ports. In addition, if there is a low cost box that also switches DVI that would be great as well.

Is there an easy way to arrange all these devices?

- keyboard (switch USB)
- trackball (switch USB)
- keyboard (switch USB)
- MBA Ethernet dongle (MBA USB only)
- HDD1/2 (USB for MBA & FW800 for MBP)
- HDD3 ( FW800 only for MBP, no USB)
- Blu-ray burner (USB for MBA & FW800 for MBP)
- Scanner (USB for MBA & FW400 for MBP)
- 23" LCD monitor (DVI, VGA)
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 11:24 AM   #2
spinnerlys
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As far as I know, only one interface on external HDD can be used at the same time, thus if it is connected to the MBA via USB, you can't use the Firewire port to connect it to the MBP.

But the problem with the keyboard and mouse can be solved via teleport.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 11:41 AM   #3
miata
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Originally Posted by spinnerlys View Post
As far as I know, only one interface on external HDD can be used at the same time, thus if it is connected to the MBA via USB, you can't use the Firewire port to connect it to the MBP.
Yes. I'm assuming that I would need to disconnect one or the other as I switch. Before I can do that I would need to unmount any disks. I'm guessing that some of this will need to be manual, but I was hoping that there might be a solution. If I need to unmount disks anyway the cables are the least of my troubles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnerlys View Post
But the problem with the keyboard and mouse can be solved via teleport.
This sounds like a pretty neat trick. Is the idea that you have one computer connected via USB and the other conencted via TCP/IP?

If so, this could spare me a USB port on the MBA. I could use it for the Ethernet dongle.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 11:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post


This sounds like a pretty neat trick. Is the idea that you have one computer connected via USB and the other conencted via TCP/IP?

If so, this could spare me a USB port on the MBA. I could use it for the Ethernet dongle.
It works via Wifi and Ethernet. I have a USB keyboard and mouse connected to my MBP and can also use it on the MB right next to it. You need to install teleport on both Macs and let one be the "slave" and the other be the "master".
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 12:05 PM   #5
Chasingneil
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When at home what are the reasons you would want to switch out laptops? It would seem when you can you would want to use the macbook pro (assuming it is more powerful).

If your needs are simply file sharing/syncing then i would recommend some hosted solution like box, dropbox, or spideroak.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 12:41 PM   #6
miata
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chasingneil View Post
When at home what are the reasons you would want to switch out laptops? It would seem when you can you would want to use the macbook pro (assuming it is more powerful).

Just to be clear here. I am looking to share my monitor, input devices, external storage and Blu-ray burner. I have not need to sync data.

If your needs are simply file sharing/syncing then i would recommend some hosted solution like box, dropbox, or spideroak.
When I am at home I often have late evening WEBEX calls or just need to finish "work stuff." However, I also do a lot of HD video and some photo management on external HDDs that will be better with FW800.

Today, I use my MBP for everything - I can simultaneously be editing a PowerPoint, doing WEBEX, encoding video, and moving big files between the MPB and my iTune video server running on an iMac. If the MBA had Firewire 800 and Ethernet I would have no need for two systems at home.

Last edited by miata; Nov 5, 2010 at 01:29 PM. Reason: clarity...
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 12:45 PM   #7
miata
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnerlys View Post
It works via Wifi and Ethernet. I have a USB keyboard and mouse connected to my MBP and can also use it on the MB right next to it. You need to install teleport on both Macs and let one be the "slave" and the other be the "master".
This has really gotten me thinking. If I use the Ethernet dongle I could share the input devices over the network via teleport and use AppleShare to access the external Firewire drives. Seems that I might even be able to remotely use the Blu-ray burner at low speed.

Would that be a better approach to sharing disks between the two systems.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 05:22 PM   #8
Chasingneil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post
When I am at home I often have late evening WEBEX calls or just need to finish "work stuff." However, I also do a lot of HD video and some photo management on external HDDs that will be better with FW800.

Today, I use my MBP for everything - I can simultaneously be editing a PowerPoint, doing WEBEX, encoding video, and moving big files between the MPB and my iTune video server running on an iMac. If the MBA had Firewire 800 and Ethernet I would have no need for two systems at home.
perhaps i should have been more direct. why would you need to essential "undock" your mbp to "dock" you mba when you could just use your mbp?

why wouldn't you just do your "work stuff" on the mbp when at home? do everything you need to on your mbp then share and sync so your files are there when you're at work or telecommuting on your mba?

anyway, sounds like you're on the right track with setting up a network to share peripherals and storage.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 08:25 PM   #9
miata
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chasingneil View Post
perhaps i should have been more direct. why would you need to essential "undock" your mbp to "dock" you mba when you could just use your mbp?

why wouldn't you just do your "work stuff" on the mbp when at home? do everything you need to on your mbp then share and sync so your files are there when you're at work or telecommuting on your mba?

anyway, sounds like you're on the right track with setting up a network to share peripherals and storage.
When I'm working at my home desk I want to use the display, keyboard and trackball with either system. I especially need the larger display -- and use it in dual display mode. This is what got me started on my sharing/switching quest.

Here is a diagram of how I think the two systems will be connected to everything. Does anybody know how the Ethernet dongles work when connecting through a USB hub?


So, the idea is that from the MBA I would be able to acces all the MBP attached storage via AppleShare, the DVD via the sharing app, the Time Machine disk on my Airport Extreme via Gig-e and the input devices via teleport. I would need to manually switch the monitor inputs as well as the connection to the scanner.
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Last edited by miata; Nov 5, 2010 at 09:59 PM. Reason: updated diagram
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Old Nov 6, 2010, 01:15 AM   #10
Chasingneil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post
When I'm working at my home desk I want to use the display, keyboard and trackball with either system. I especially need the larger display -- and use it in dual display mode. This is what got me started on my sharing/switching quest.

So, the idea is that from the MBA I would be able to acces all the MBP attached storage via AppleShare, the DVD via the sharing app, the Time Machine disk on my Airport Extreme via Gig-e and the input devices via teleport. I would need to manually switch the monitor inputs as well as the connection to the scanner.
Try this one more time. I know what you want to do, but why do you find it necessary to do it? Seems like a lot of trouble for naught.

Why do tasks on 2 separate macs when you can do them all on one? Am i not getting something here?
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Old Nov 6, 2010, 10:54 AM   #11
miata
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Here are my three choices:

1) The MBA would be the perfect solution for me if Apple would have included a FW800 port. Without it I need to use a different computer for my "heavy home work."

2) A 13" MBP with SSD would also be perfect compromise between capabilities and weight if it had a higher resolution display.

3) A 15" MBP with SSD would be the best computer for home, but I am tired of hauling around the weight all day at work

Right now I am leaning towards the MBA and trying to figure out how to make it work with my other system.

Last edited by miata; Nov 6, 2010 at 03:57 PM.
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Old Nov 6, 2010, 10:38 PM   #12
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I went by the local Apple Store today. I decided to hold old a but longer for the next rev of the MBA 13. I can't move to a MBA with severely restricted I/O, I can compromise screen resolution with the MBP 13 and I'm never going to buy another laptop that is bigger than the MBP 13.
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