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Why is it so impossible to find a reliable KVM switch these days for SOHO use?

32,012 3,005 June 18, 2020 at 04:59 PM
I have a work machine (Latitude E5470) and a home machine (Yoga 920).


My organization has told us that even if COVID-19 disappeared forever tomorrow, the current work from home posture will remain indefinitely as productivity has noticeably gone way up since teleworking began in March.


So in the mean time, I've moved off the kitchen table and formally set up a true home office out of a spare bedroom. It's actually kinda nice and I should have done this before. I have an executive private bathroom (with shower!), a very nice window view, a TV on the wall to watch the news, and privacy! Much more betterer than my cube environment at work.


But I digress.


I am now looking for a reliable KVM with dual monitor support, USB 2.0 and at least one USB 3.0 connectivity, Ethernet connection, and hot-key switching. I can even work around the Ethernet connection, truly (it's just a switch in a KVM anyway, but would make the wiring neater).


Should be simple, right?



Yeah, not so fast.


Choices seem to be cheap Chinese knock-offs and one-offs, or expensive Avocent (Cybex) KVM switches that are way too expensive to justify.


My monitors are Benq GW-2480's. Currently I don't have a docking station for my Latitude but one will be arriving in the next few weeks from work (slow slow slow hardware process!), and I can get whatever USB-C 3.0 docking station I need for my Yoga 920. Point is, I'm not sure I'm really picky at this point on video inputs, as long as they can all handle 1080p 60Hz.


So where are the good docking stations at?

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#2
So not sure what you consider expensive this one is 165.00
https://www.provantage.com/tripp-...RPK06R.htm


Model B004-DPUA2-K
Provantage Code: TRPK06R

Condition: Factory New

Product Type: KVM Switchbox
Number of Computers Supported: 2
Limited Warranty: 3 Year
Number of USB Ports: 6

just pick up a USB 3.0/3.1 dock

https://www.monoprice.com/product...gKBt_D_BwE
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#3
Quote from The Raddish
:
I have a work machine (Latitude E5470) and a home machine (Yoga 920).


My organization has told us that even if COVID-19 disappeared forever tomorrow, the current work from home posture will remain indefinitely as productivity has noticeably gone way up since teleworking began in March.


So in the mean time, I've moved off the kitchen table and formally set up a true home office out of a spare bedroom. It's actually kinda nice and I should have done this before. I have an executive private bathroom (with shower!), a very nice window view, a TV on the wall to watch the news, and privacy! Much more betterer than my cube environment at work.


But I digress.


I am now looking for a reliable KVM with dual monitor support, USB 2.0 and at least one USB 3.0 connectivity, Ethernet connection, and hot-key switching. I can even work around the Ethernet connection, truly (it's just a switch in a KVM anyway, but would make the wiring neater).


Should be simple, right?



Yeah, not so fast.


Choices seem to be cheap Chinese knock-offs and one-offs, or expensive Avocent (Cybex) KVM switches that are way too expensive to justify.


My monitors are Benq GW-2480's. Currently I don't have a docking station for my Latitude but one will be arriving in the next few weeks from work (slow slow slow hardware process!), and I can get whatever USB-C 3.0 docking station I need for my Yoga 920. Point is, I'm not sure I'm really picky at this point on video inputs, as long as they can all handle 1080p 60Hz.


So where are the good docking stations at?

The good ones always cost a couple of hundred in my experience.

If you are not too picky about about switching all on 1 button push though it can be handled separately fairly easily and cheaply.

The keyboard and mouse are usb devices so a simple usb a\b switch takes care of that and they are very cheap.

Nothing prevents you putting a gigabit switch in your office if you only have one drop and running ethernet wires to both machines. Switch costs like 20 dollars and both stay connected all the time that way.

You can either get an HDMI switch to switch inputs to your monitors (they run like 20-40 dollars give or take). Or even better, ditch the old monitors and buy a 32 inch or 40 inch 4k TV and use that for you monitor and just switch the inputs on it as needed. Obviously the TV costs a bit, but I rather spend the $200-300 on that than on some lame KVM switch, but that is me.

My 2 cents.
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#4
Why do you need a KVM again?

I've had dual monitors at home and work for.... forever.... when I started WAH (Work At Home) I just brought the dock for my work laptop home and used the other ports on the monitors for the work setup (each monitor has analog and dvi). While a bit clunky, on my desk I have 2 kb's and 2 mice that I just move depending on which setup I need to use. If I really cared about it or anticipated it would last longer, I'd setup a better solution but this works just fine. Home PC is ethernet, laptop is wifi.
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#5
Quote from Dr. J
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Why do you need a KVM again?

I've had dual monitors at home and work for.... forever.... when I started WAH (Work At Home) I just brought the dock for my work laptop home and used the other ports on the monitors for the work setup (each monitor has analog and dvi). While a bit clunky, on my desk I have 2 kb's and 2 mice that I just move depending on which setup I need to use. If I really cared about it or anticipated it would last longer, I'd setup a better solution but this works just fine. Home PC is ethernet, laptop is wifi.
I don't have the room or desire for two KB/Mices on my desk. Both are fairly spendy ergonomic things.

I also want to be able to expand both my monitors on both my work and home machines.

I've settled on dual KVM inputs. I want one HDMI and one DisplayPort in for each, and same for the terminal output. I don't really care about the network connection. I do want to share my keyboard/Monitor.

I also really want a KB hotkey switch, not a button press on the KMN itself if I can avoid it.
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So I stole this Docking station from Amazon Warehouse [amazon.com] for $35. At the moment, it seems to work well. Using it to charge my Yoga 920, and to drive both of my Benq monitors via HDMI. The only noticeable issue I see with it is the headphone jack on the front appears damaged. I likely would never use that jack anyway, and it's just the plastic ring missing over the metal jack so it might even still work. I'll get around to testing it at some point. Maybe.


I have this docking station [amazon.com] for my work machine.



Still looking for a KVM with HDMI and DisplayPort outputs (or dual DisplayPort) to support dual monitors. I'd prefer if they were 4k 60Hz compatible, but honestly my monitors are brand new and are 1080p and I'm very unlikely to move to 4k in the foreseeable future anyway. I'm not a gamer, and these screens give me plenty of real estate with which to work.


Something like this [amazon.com] would be great but the reviews are absolutely dismal!


At this point my minimum feature set is to support dual monitors, either two DisplayPort or one Displayport and one HDMI per host machine, USB switch for Keyboard and Mouse.

My audio will switch with my center monitor through DisplayPort or HDMI, so I don't even care if it has audio switching.

I want a quality brand with demonstrated history of reliability. I am not going to buy a cheap Chinese knock-off brand. I'll pay for quality...up to a point. My limit is about $200, give or take. Obviously I prefer to spend less.

I also want keyboard hotkey switching. My preferred mounting spot for the KVM will be out of visual and physical reach.


Any other features at this point are gravy.
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#7
the one I sent you is 165 and has hotkeys?

https://www.provantage.com/tripp-...RPK06R.htm
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#8
There is this [monoprice.com] for $110. Everything you want except USB 3.0. Due back in stock today.
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#9
Quote from komondor
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the one I sent you is 165 and has hotkeys?

https://www.provantage.com/tripp-...RPK06R.htm
It is not dual display. That is a primary requirement.


Thanks for the suggestion, though.

Quote from BerMM2
:
There is this [monoprice.com] for $110. Everything you want except USB 3.0. Due back in stock today.
That looks promising. I'll research it more.

I've had mixed luck with Monoprice stuff. Seems to be either excellent or very much not excellent. I might just have to take the chance.

The price is certainly good.
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Last edited by finzz2dlft June 24, 2020 at 07:58 PM.
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#10
This one is not made in China but is 218?

https://www.provantage.com/aten-c...TEN156.htm
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Quote from komondor
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This one is not made in China but is 218?

https://www.provantage.com/aten-c...TEN156.htm
Thanks! This is the one I went with.


I looked at this KVMP a few weeks ago and initially dismissed it due to overall lack of reviews and bad reviews, as well as pricing pushing $300 in most places.


However, thank you for putting it back in front of me. What I discovered is that most of the negative issues are for two things: 1. not fully compatible with Mac (doesn't affect me) and 2. terrible sound issues, which also won't affect me as I am using sound through DisplayPort.


My total after tax and shipping was under $250. More than I wanted to spend, but I think it will offer me more than the Monoprice KVM linked above. The main thing that bothered me about the Monoprice KVM was the use as CAPSLOCK for hot-key switching. I can see that becoming problematic. The price sure was attractive though.


Thanks everyone for your inputs. Once the KVM arrives and I get a chance to test it, I'll come back and post my experiences with it.
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#12
Glad you found something that worked, sorry I posted the wrong link originally.
Provantage is a a really good company they list items that are TAA (not made in China), they list quantities available, and they do not have 3rd party sellers. Some really good prices now and then too!


there is an old saying my "Buy on price pay twice"
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Quote from komondor
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Glad you found something that worked, sorry I posted the wrong link originally.
Provantage is a a really good company they list items that are TAA (not made in China), they list quantities available, and they do not have 3rd party sellers. Some really good prices now and then too!


there is an old saying my "Buy on price pay twice"
My new ATEN KVMP arrived today. So far so good. I do get a message on each machine when I switch it that a USB device malfunctioned on the machine I switch from, but it doesn't appear to have any functional issues once switched back.


Interestingly, the mouse doesn't work if plugged into the keyboard and vice versa.


Display switching takes about 3-4 seconds when swapping between the two machines. Not a big deal.


I haven't gotten the keyboard or mouse gesture switching to work yet but I haven't spent any time playing with it, either, other than to note it doesn't work by default.


The unit itself is fairly large and heavy. It's bigger than I expected but appears well made.


I need to get some shorter DP and USB cables to clean up the cable management behind it. It's a bit ridiculous right now with six foot cables that are plugged in three inches from each other.


I have my speakers plugged into my center monitor and sounds is carried over DP so I haven't tried it with the KVMP. I probably won't even test this, honestly, as it works now as intended.



Overall I'm happy with the functionality. As long as it holds up it'll be useful for many years to come. Thanks again for the recommendation and bringing it back to my attention.


Annoyingly, it's a couple bucks cheaper today than when I bought it, but that happens. It's only two dollars cheaper so not worth the effort to try to recover it.
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