StarView SV421USB Server Sharer KVM Switch

Product: StarView SV421USB KVM
Unit & Accessories Provided By: DallmannComputers

Introduction:
 
It wasn't that long ago when a KVM was a tool that only the hardcore computer technician could afford. Today, many computer enthusiasts can benefit from KVM's, but the functionality and cost of a KVM can still be called into question. We are going to look at a KVM from StarTech, that comes barebones, but at a price most anyone could afford. Enter the SV421USB KVM. . .
 
 
Features & Specs:
 
  • Dual function KVM/USB switch - two switches in one!
  • Controls four (4) computers from a single console over a USB connection using standard USB cables.
  • Simultaneous reverse operation - 4 computers can share 2 USB ports.
  • Eliminates driver conflicts between the consoles mouse and the computers configuration.
  • Notebook computers can use the consoles mouse and keyboard at the same time.
  • Auto-scan function to monitor computer operation.
  • LED display for easy status monitoring.
  • Supports DDC (Display Data Channel).
  • Hot pluggable installation.
  • Provides centralized control of Windows 98/2000 PCs and Macs (G3, G4 or iMac) from a single USB keyboard, USB mouse, and VGA monitor.
  • Saves time, space, power and equipment costs.
  • Easy to install - no software required.
  • Easy to operate - pushbutton operation.

  • Computer Connections - Four (4).
  • LEDs - (4) Selected, (4) Online, (1) Auto-Scan.
  • Connectors - USB Type A Female for Keyboard, Mouse and Peripherals, USB Type B Female for Computers.
  • Video - (1) High Density DB15 Female to VGA monitor, (4) High Density DB15 Male to CPU Ports.
  • Power - DC 5V (drawn from USB Bus); power adapter is not included with this unit, but is NOT necessary for normal operation.
  • Power Consumption - 15 mA.
  • Scan Interval - 3 / 15 seconds.
  • Operating Temperature - 5~40 Degrees Celsius.
  • Storage Temperature - -20~60 Degrees Celsius.
  • Humidity - 0~80% RH Non-condensing.
  • Enclosure - Metal / Plastic.
  • Weight - 1100g.Dimensions - 224x152x52mm.
  • VGA Video Bandwidth - 220 MHz.
  • Maximum Display Resolution - 1920 x 1440 Pixels.
 

I was down at the local computer shop a few weeks ago, and Dwayne pulled out the black box and had me guess how much his new toy cost him. I ventured a guess of $120CDN. I was closer than most people, but was still about $85 too high. That's right, the model pictured above was picked up for $35CDN . . . that's about $26USD, or 21EUR. Not a bad price, but that's all you get. . . the KVM.

Once I saw that there were no cables in the box, I began to see the bigger picture - KVM cables are generally quite expensive. . . Then I turned the unit around.

 
 
You may have missed it in the Features & Specs listed above, but this KVM uses standard USB A-B cables and monitor extension cables - not expensive KVM cables. For about $20CDN and some haggling (Thanks D-man), I had enough cables to run the unit to capacity. The beautiful thing about this unit, is that it is a USB Switching Hub as well as a KVM. That means you can plug your USB Keyboard, USB Mouse, and any two other USB devices into the ports, and it will share them as you switch computers.
 
 
The big question stands: "Does it work?" To answer simply, "Yes!". I've used this KVM with 3 computers at a time, and have never needed to use the power header. It works flawlessly under Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 98 (drivers may be required for additional USB devices), as well as Redhat 9.0 and Fedora Core 1.
 
Noteworthy Observations:
 
 

If you are using a multimedia PS/2 Keyboard with certain PS/2 adapters, you may lose certain hotkey functionality when using the KVM. It really cannot be blamed on the KVM, but the drivers that access your PS/2 hotkeys. If you use a USB multimedia keyboard, the KVM will operate like a USB hub and all keyboard functionality will be available.

Certain display drivers will not allow refresh rates to be adjusted under Windows 2000 or XP. This is an extension of the "Refresh Rate Issue" that has become apparent with Microsoft NT products. A simple refresh rate utility will correct this.

 
Conclusion:
 

The StarView SV421USB KVM is certainly a KVM for the masses. I am extremely impressed with the usability of this device. A concern I had before I installed it was Video quality. Anytime you pass signal through extension cables or switches, you tend to lose quality. I didn't notice any quality loss when using Premium Shielded VGA cables. This is a tremendous device that offers tremendous quality and functionality for a rock bottom price. (Computer Surplus)

If you operate more than one computer in a room, this is a recommended product for sure.

 

Many thanks to DallmannComputers for sending out this unit for review.

If you have any questions or comments about this review, please feel free to head on over and post them here.