KVM switch options for ChromeOS + macOS + Windows 10
April 22, 2020 11:38 AM   Subscribe

At home I alternate between a cheap personal Samsung Chromebook 3 (XE500C13), a 2012 Mac mini server, and a work Lenovo ThinkPad T460s. I have a wireless Logitech K750 keyboard and an M705 mouse both controlled by a Logitech Unifying USB dongle. There's also a Dell Ultrasharp U2415 monitor. I unplug the HDMI cable and USB dongle and swap them between the three platforms when I want to use the keyboard, mouse, and monitor with any given device. I'm aware that a KVM switch can make this easy between the Lenovo and the Mac, but I am concerned about whether such a switch will allow the Chromebook to play nicely with the others. I also wonder whether the Unifying wireless dongle plays nicely with KVM switches. Does anyone know whether a device exists that will allow me to switch easily among the three devices using the same monitor, keyboard and mouse?
posted by cgc373 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
I maybe wrong but I think you will have a problem finding a switch that will work with the USB dongle.
posted by tman99 at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2020

Re: dongle
How do the three units behave when you quickly unplug / replug the adapter? Because KVM switching between them, with the wireless adapter, each unit is going to think that you just yanked it out or jammed it in, each time you switch away and back.
For instance, if it takes 10 secs to readjust / redetect the hardware when you unplug it manually, it’s going to do that every time you switch back and forth.

Re: chromebook
What’s the concern that it will play nice? That most kvm switches for sale are two-position? Or does it already have trouble with the adapter?

I’ve done this before, plugged a wireless keyboard adapter into a wired KVM switch; and that was the weak spot. Switching meant the computer thinking I had just now plugged the adapter in, and ‘detecting/adding new hardware’, with a bit of lag to adjust, each and every time. But this was with not-your-equipment, so your mileage may vary.
posted by bartleby at 12:25 PM on April 22, 2020

Have you considered using something like Chrome Remote Desktop or some other Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) option, assuming that all the computers are networked and you're allowed to install things on the work system?
posted by meowzilla at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2020

Response by poster: Sadly, no ability to install or really do anything that requires admin privileges on the Windows PC. It's pretty locked down.

The Chromebook concern mostly relates to none of the KVM things I've seen noting that they work with ChromeOS. They say yes about Windows, macOS, Linux, and UNIX stuff, but nothing about Chrome that I've noticed.
posted by cgc373 at 3:51 PM on April 22, 2020

I have DisplayLink enabled KVM hub (the brand is WAVLINK), with two monitors and a Logitech unifying dongle plugged in. It was not cheap but my only regret is that now, a year later, I could requisition one from work instead of buying my own.

I don't have a Mac but I successfully swap out two different Windows 10 laptops and a chromebook (which can only to extend to one monitor and clone to the other). My employer uses the same type of hub in the office (different brand), and some coworkers use Macs without any issue.

I've only had the 'detecting/adding new hardware' once per device, except sometimes after a major windows update it happens again. Sometimes if I let the work laptop go to hibernate via timeout, it can't find the monitors when it wakes up. I just need to unplug/replug the hub and they come back on.

The biggest issue I've had is placement of the dongle to avoid interferance; sometimes the hub ends up behind one of the monitors (often cat-related) and suddenly my keyboard cuts in and out. I solved this with a USB extention cord with the dongle taped to the front of my desk.
posted by buildmyworld at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2020

Please tell me if I’m missing something, but could you use a HDMI switcher for the monitor, and a USB switcher for the keyboard and mouse? Far, far cheaper than any KVM switch option I researched. That’s my set-up for switching between my MacBook Air (which I use on my desktop 90% of the time) and my Windows PC – and I’ve got a PlayStation 3 on the HDMI switcher, too.
posted by macdara at 6:32 AM on April 29, 2020

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