Two Computers One Monitor – With a KVM 2 Port Switch, Yes You Can!



Two Computers One Monitor – Introduction

Two computers one monitor and a lack of desk space!

A not uncommon problem today is that of an office or home setup where you have two computers that you wish to switch between regularly but only have room on your desk for one monitor, keyboard and mouse, especially if you have a widescreen LCD monitor filling your desktop!

Maybe you have a PC setup dedicated to gaming and another PC for all of your other applications or setup as a server etc.

Some gamers and computer buffs like to have multiple setups with one PC a ‘latest spec’ machine and the other as a backup or new build PC.

With this kind of setup it would be very annoying to say the least to have to keep unplugging your monitor, keyboard and mouse from one PC only to have to reconnect it to the other – back and forth all the time!

Well not to worry – there is a way around this!

KVM monitor switches are available which allow the connection of two or more PCs to one monitor, keyboard and mouse.

KVM stands for, yep, you guessed it, keyboard, video and mouse!

It’s a neat little device that you can connect up between two or more PCs with a single set of user interfaces and switch between your PCs using a simple keyboard shortcut command – brilliant eh!

The keyboard command is usually something simple like a multiple tap of your shift key for instance.

Manual KVM switches are also available which require you to simply press a button to switch between PCs.

Two Computers One Monitor – Remote Control

It’s even possible to set up dual PC sharing without having to site the PCs locally to each other by using a local / remote KVM switch.

How does this work?

Well, your local KVM switch simply plugs into your keyboard, mouse and monitor and a CAT 5 type network cable connection is made between the local and remote KVM switch boxes.

The remote Ethernet KVM switch then connects to your remote PCs keyboard, video and mouse inputs, and you’re all set to go.

Two Computers One Monitor – Who Makes Them?

These handy little devices are easily obtainable from a number of manufacturers, such as Belkin, D-Link, TRENDnet and Iogear KVM switches and can be purchased quite cheaply from online stores such as tigerdirect.com.

Obviously it’s best to spend a reasonable amount to ensure a good quality product, you are dealing with some quite sensitive signals here especially for your monitor connection and the cheaper models may be more susceptible to crosstalk and interference of the signals.

Two Computers One Monitor – Is there another way?

Sharing a monitor between two PCs can also be achieved very simply if your monitor has dual inputs.

You will simply need to select the input using the monitor input selector.

Obviously your individual PCs will still require their own keyboard and mouse but this is still another possibly cheaper option to consider.

Ok, well we’ve talked about the KVM switch solution and sharing a monitor using dual inputs but are there any other options open to you?

Well, in fact yes there is!

Two Computers One Monitor – Software Approach

Another option which is brilliant for those that require remote operation of a PC is the software based control via your home network or even over an Internet connection.

Who provides the software?

There are a number of software solutions around, some you have to pay for and some, such as ‘Windows Remote Desktop’ are available free.

Another free option is ‘LogMeIn’ who provide a free option for users with basic requirements.

You will need a high speed home network LAN and decent broadband Internet connection in order to use this to the best of its abilities.

Note that this isn’t strictly a software KVM type solution as your remote PC will still require its own keyboard video and mouse but you will be able to use one monitor, keyboard and mouse locally to view two or ore computers remotely.

Two Computers One Monitor – KVM Switch Cables

KVM switches are available with two or more sets of connections for the sharing of multiple PCs with a single monitor, keyboard and mouse

Some KVM switches have VGA inputs and outputs and PS2 connections for mouse and keyboard whilst the newer models have USB ports for today’s USB keyboard and mouse connections.

Your KVM switch will usually come complete with a set of cables. You will need to check that the KVM switch that you select has the correct connector types for both of your PCs that you intend to share with your monitor keyboard and mouse.

Many KVM switches available today have the facility to connect a set of speakers and a microphone which can also be switched between your PCs.

A KVM switch will, due to the technical limitations regarding signal quality etc, need to be sited in reasonable proximity to your PCs – say within 2 to 3 metres.

By the way, with a basic KVM switch there should be no reason why you should not be able to mix and match between a PC and Mac as long as the keyboard and mouse are compatible with both setups.

Two Computers One Monitor – Best KVM Switch

Where would we suggest that you look for the best KVM switch?

Well, Belkin, Iogear and TRENDnet offer some very good KVM switches and a very compact dual port KVM switch can be obtained very cheaply from all of these manufacturers.

All are exceptionally easy to configure and install and do not require any device drivers or other software installation on any of the PCs that you intend connecting it to.

A very simple device available cheaply is the Belkin 2 Port KVM switch called the Belkin Flip which is offered in PS/2 or USB connector variants.

This is a really cute little device which sits between the two computers, a single monitor and your keyboard and mouse.

It comes with a ‘remote’ button that you use to swap ‘on the fly’ between your two PCs.

The Flip remote button has two colors along its edge which shine green or yellow with the color indicating which of your PCs is currently under control of your keyboard and mouse.

The Flip’s remote button can be attached to the top or underside of your desk using the included adhesive patch if you so desire.

No software installation is required with this model – it really doesn’t get any simpler!

Actually, there is also a variant of this model that has wireless remote included!



Belkin F1DG102W 2-Port USB KVM Switch with Wireless Remote

Belkin’s Wireless Remote version of the ‘Flip’ allows you wire free switching between two PCs or a PC and a laptop with the KVM to PC and KVM to keyboard etc. cables neatly hidden away from view.

This beauty also features audio support, allowing you to share a set of speakers between PCs!

The Flip lets you to listen to music files on one PC whilst working on your other PC by using the handy ‘audio lock’ feature.

Features

  • Share a single monitor, USB keyboard and USB mouse between two PCs
  • Share a set of speakers between two PCs
  • Wireless RF remote has a range of 10 feet
  • ‘Active’ PC indication using bi-color LED indicator
  • Includes 2 built-in cables for connecting computers
  • Supports screen resolutions up to 2048x1536
  • MAC and PC compatible


A good example of a competing Iogear KVM switch model is the

Iogear GCS42UW6 Compact KVM Switch

The IOGEAR two-port USB KVM switch supports both the MAC and Windows operating systems and allows a single monitor keyboard and USB mouse to be shared between two computers.

Switching between the two computers is by use of a manual switch which is attached to the top of the KVM switch housing.

Again, this device features plug and play operation does not require any software to be installed.

Features

  • Share a single monitor, USB keyboard and USB mouse between two PCs
  • No external power required
  • Supports screen resolutions up to 2048x1536
  • Integral 6 foot USB and VGA cables
  • Compact design features two attached KVM (USB and VGA) cables
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 upwards and Appple Mac OS 9.0 upwards
  • Manual Push button computer selection
  • LED indication of active PC


A further excellent example of a competing Trendnet KVM switch model is

TRENDnet’s TK-207K 2-Port USB KVM Switch

This 2-Port USB KVM Switch allows connection of two PC’s with an integrated set of keyboard, monitor, and mouse cables.

Switching between computers is by push button selection or ‘hot keys’ with LED indication.

Again no external power is required as the Trendnet KVM switch obtains its power from the cables attached to your PCs

This device features plug and play with no software installation required.

Features