USB KVM switches

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by shake, Dec 22, 2003.

  1. shake macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2002
    Toronto, CANADA
    hello all,
    just wondering if anyone here has any experience with USB KVM switches (belkin omniview, iogear mini view etc).
    i'm looking to get a switch to share monitor(vga) and keyboard/mouse (usb) between a mac and a pc. i would like to use the oringial apple pro keyboard that came with my powermac g4.
    i have 2 concerns:
    1. (most important) video quality of the switcher. how does the video compare after its gone through the switch? i dont like or want a fuzzy monitor or any ghosting...
    2. key commands for a mac (volume up/down, cd eject key). do these work after going through the switch?

    any insight is appreciated!
  2. Lanbrown macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2003
    Be sure to look at what the maximum resolution the KVM can handle. If in doubt, ask the manufacturer. Some are limited and larger monitors may not work correctly. I am a big fan of not using a KVM. They only work so so in my book. I have used the cheap ones all the way to the expensive models (big money) and they all have quirks. Some systems just hate them and will cause undesirable results, like a weird acting mouse or KB, a KB or mouse that won't work to the system crashing. Some KVM's are better then others and then again, you get what you pay for. Typically the more expensive models are better, bit not always. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you brand or model you use, the system just doesn’t like it.

    There are times you can also see interference in the picture, as the KVM is getting interference and you can see it on a screen. Removing the KVM cures the problem.

    Sorry I can't help you out about which brand or model to get though. You might pick one and you will never have problems, you might not.
  3. jtown macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
    Cable quality is very important. The best KVM switch in the world will look like crap if you use low quality cables for the video signal. I have an old Linksys ProConnect 4-port switch for my PCs. Using good shielded/filtered cables, I have no ghosting and no noticable loss of quality in the image, tho I only run up to 1152x864 since that's as high as my monitor can go with a decent refresh rate. Just make sure you buy good cables and keep them as short as possible. I think 20' from end to end would be stretching it.

    As for the special function keys on the apple keyboard, the KVM will pass whatever it receives. The problem you may (probably will) run into is the differences between those keys on windows and OSX. I know that you can use a windows keyboard on a Mac with the "Windows" key acting as the Apple "command" key and "alt" key as the Apple "option" key. I assume an Apple keyboard would work the same on a windows machine. Either way, you'd have to get used to the key placement being reversed on one of the machines.

    I don't know how the F-keys map on the Apple keyboard. I expect they're the same as a PC keyboard so you shouldn't have any problem other than the swapping of the windows/command and alt/option keys.
  4. Nik_Doof macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2003
    St Helens, UK
    Yup, a apple keyboard works fine on Windows (tested on XP), just shows up as a Apple Keyboard HID.

    The Apple key is the Windows key, Anything past F12 it doesnt like.
  5. Tom T. macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2003
    NC, USA
    I've been using an IOGear USB KVM switch for two Macs — a G4 with OS X (10.3 now) and a G3 with OS9 — for almost a year now. Absolutely no problems. There is a brief pause in mousing when I switch, but it's probably only about 1 second.

    Depending on your needs, there's quite a variety of setups. For example, I have two monitors. The G4 can use both monitors at the same time, or, when I switch, the G4 uses one and the G3 uses the other.

    At the office, we have Belkin switches. Also no problems.

    It's a great device for eliminating desktop clutter.
  6. jtown macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
    Odd. I tried a USB windows keyboard on my ibook last night and the brightness and volume F-keys didn't work but F-12 ejected the CD. I don't have a USB Mac keyboard so I can't hook it up to a PC to test the F-keys. Brightness and volume buttons are F1-F5 on my ibook. If it's the same on a standard Apple USB keyboard, there may be trouble getting those keys to work on a windows machine.
  7. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Just did a test on WinXP Pro with an Apple Pro Keyboard (MDD 1st Gen) and the F1-F5 keys all worked as expected. Didn't test the media keys though.

    Hope this helps.
  8. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003

    these guys make kvm specific for what you have in mind. they work with windows,mac,sun, and hpux. the one that works with all for doesn't have usb. the UR-12 supports usb windows and mac. this is design for what you had in mind. most others don't take in to consideration macs.

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