KVM Switch

Desktop computers can be found in most homes and offices today, and it is not uncommon to find people using several computers at the same time. There are many demanding tasks that require more than one computer, such as creating 3D graphics. To have a separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor for each computer is expensive and takes up a lot of desk space. A KVM switch allows just one set of desktop peripherals to be used with a number of computers. There are small switches that handle just two computers, as well as larger switches that can handle many more. Changing between the computers is done with the press of a button or a tap on the keyboard.

KVM switch stands for keyboard, video, and mouse switch. Some models also handle audio signals for speakers and microphones but they are still called KVM switches. The smaller models are very compact and usually have their own cables. The larger models resemble modems and have lots of connection ports. Some models are purely mechanical switches but others require electrical power, which they get from either a USB port or a power adapter. It is even possible to control the computers remotely over a network using a method known as KVM over IP. Some of the companies that make KVM switches include ATAR, Belkin, D-Link, Iogear, and Linksys.

While many people use a notebook computer every day, very few would say they enjoy typing on one. The small keyboard and touchpad are awkward and uncomfortable to use, and they can even cause aches and pains if used for a long period of time. A KVM switch allows a notebook to be quickly hooked up to the keyboard and mouse of a desktop computer, without having to unplug and plug them back in each time. It also allows users to swap between several desktop computers without the confusion of trying to find the right keyboard and mouse each time. Even just two sets of desktop peripherals take up a lot of desk space, and they need to be constantly moved around each time the user changes to another computer.

A KVM switch is also useful for controlling many desktop computers used in server farms and factories. A server farm is a group of computers that work together to complete a task. The task is split up into smaller parts which are distributed to the computers for processing, after which the parts are recombined to form the finished task. Server farms are used to run large websites, create animated movies, conduct simulations, and research cures for diseases. Many industrial machines and test rigs are controlled by a desktop computer. A KVM switch can be used to control all the computers from one location, instead of having lots of keyboards, mice, and monitors scattered around the factory.

The most important feature to look for when shopping for a KVM switch is the number of computers it can host. The cheapest switches can only handle a small number of computers, while the more expensive ones can handle more computers. Most large switches require separate cables to be purchased which adds to their overall cost, but there are usually a few cables included in the box. The video plugs on the back should be checked to see if they are VGA or DVI. The maximum video resolution should also be checked to make sure it is sufficient. The switch should also have an additional set of video outputs if two monitors are used on the desktop.

Swapping between the various computers connected to a KVM switch is done by either pressing a button or a hotkey. The computers swap instantly and an indicator light shows which computer is currently active. While most switches are compatible with Windows and Mac, some switches have problems with certain versions of the Linux operating system. A simple KVM switch with built-in cables can be purchased for less $100, which is cheaper than buying a second keyboard, mouse, and monitor. But larger models that can handle more than two computers will cost much more.

This KVM Switch Review is Written/Updated on Nov 9th, 2009 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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