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KVM (Keyboard Video and Monitor) switches used to be fairly common some years ago to share a set of keyboard, mouse and monitor between several computers (usually two). This little cable allows you to share your keyboard and mouse, but not the monitors. However, I actually think that’s a good thing as one of the main problems with the old KVM switches was video compatibility and rendering issues.
In order to use it, you connect each end to an USB port on each computer, follow the instructions given by the software once it automatically fires up, and a couple minutes later you are ready to go. It’s really simple (although you may need to upgrade the cable firmware).
See to the right the configuration I’m using (click to enlarge). I’m using this nice little cable between a Retina MacBook Pro running Mac OS X Mavericks and a Dell Latitude running Windows 7. With no compatibility problems at all. I even have it connected to this USB 3.0 hub by Anker with no problems at all.
The beauty of this device is that you can use it to share computers with different operating systems. Also, you don’t have to deal with several long thick cables like you had to with the old KVM switches.
As seen in the video below, moving the mouse cursor to the edge of one of the computers will move it to the other computer (you can let the software know which side the other computer is at in the Preferences section). You can also set it up to switch computers via a Hot Key and even share the clipboard between computers, something that was not possible with the old switches.
According to the product page, it can also be used with an iPad, but I didn’t test that capability.
I left two of my favorite features for the end: you don’t need administrative privileges to install the cable software and your computers don’t need to be on the same network for it to work. This is huge for me because I am not authorized to install software in the windows computer and I’m forced to connect to Internet on that computer through a VPN network.
This product is not perfect. Although there are some downsides, they are definitely not deal-breakers:
- It can behave “funny” on the edges. When you move the mouse cursor near the edge that you have configured to switch computers, the mouse may try to jump to the other computer or it may not be as responsive (however, you can work around this by using a Hotkey for switching computers).
- Sometimes MAC OS X’s Natural Scrolling may be transmitted to the other computer.
- There is no Linux support (yet)