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Sharing a monitor/mouse/keyboard with a laptop, easily, inexpensively?
November 7, 2006 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me share a monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse between a desktop and a laptop.

I've got a desktop XP box with a nice monitor, wireless mouse and keyboard (the latter two are a combo - a single receiver). I also have to use a laptop at my desk sometimes.

What's the best, simplest, most affordable way to share the monitor, keyboard and mouse with the laptop? I've looked at this beasty, but I've got to believe there's a cheaper way. And how do you deal with differing resolutions, when the desktop monitor is considerably larger than the laptop screen - is that a nuisance?

(Bonus points if the device that accomodates this is bus-powered - I've got too many things plugged into my wall as it is.)
posted by jbickers to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If they're networked, you want Win2VNC.
posted by krisjohn at 3:50 AM on November 7, 2006


My team of developers, who each had at least one laptop and at least one desktop PC, used this free tool with some joy last year.
posted by grahamspankee at 4:20 AM on November 7, 2006


Synergy offers similar behaviour to win2vnc and is a bit more polished.
It synchronises screen savers, preserves the clipboard and allows a good deal of customisation.

Neither of these two solutions will let you share the monitor in an easy way. However if you're using a decent tft monitor you should be able to solve that part without any extra hardware: Just hook the PC up to the monitor's DVI slot and the laptop to the VGA slot (or vice versa). Then you can switch what it shows using the built in menu.
posted by Olli at 4:28 AM on November 7, 2006


When I posed the question, I was thinking about literal sharing - having the laptop display on the large monitor. Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I might like this dual-monitor approach more ... thanks, all!
posted by jbickers at 4:31 AM on November 7, 2006


or a simple 2 port KVM much cheaper
posted by digital-dragonfly at 5:47 AM on November 7, 2006


or a simple 2 port KVM much cheaper

OK, two dumb questions on this approach.

* If the shared monitor is much bigger than the laptop, will that require fussing with resolution each time I switch?

* Will the laptop always have to be open, or shut, or does it matter? (I've got a colleague who somehow has his laptop hooked up to a giant screen, and he uses it with the notebook closed.)
posted by jbickers at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2006


* If the shared monitor is much bigger than the laptop, will that require fussing with resolution each time I switch?
Provided your monitor supports the output resolution of your laptop, you shouldn't have to do this.

* Will the laptop always have to be open, or shut, or does it matter? (I've got a colleague who somehow has his laptop hooked up to a giant screen, and he uses it with the notebook closed.)
Most current laptops allow you to run while the lid is closed. In the Power Options in the Control Panel, there should be an option to direct the laptop to continue running even with the lid closed.
posted by junesix at 10:35 AM on November 7, 2006


Synergy!!!!

Very easy to set up on XP boxes, a little harder on OS X and NIX... but well worth it.
posted by eleongonzales at 1:45 PM on November 7, 2006


Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I might like this dual-monitor approach more
Then have a look also at Maxivista. While the laptop can easy be plugged into the external monitor, Maxivista will let you use the laptop's screen with your desktop.
posted by krisjohn at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2006


I've been using Teleport on 2 macs (laptop and tower) pretty comfortably for a while now.

My only compaint is that using regular Cat5 cable (instead of Cat5e) for my network slows it down a bit.
posted by eatcake at 8:18 PM on November 7, 2006


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