So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Belkin Australia Flip DVI
- Colour coded, easy to set-up, power cable should eliminate issues from older versions, supports newer DVI
- Only supports stereo audio, won't connect to D-Sub monitors
There's nothing particularly fancy about the Belkin Flip DVI, which is probably its greatest asset. Its simplicity and user-friendly nature make it ideal for the home environment.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
If you've ever been in the unfortunate situation of having two computers (with potentially two or more users of those computers), but only enough desk space for one monitor, one keyboard, one mouse and one set of speakers, then you'll appreciate the value of a good KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch. There are many KVM switches available on the market, but few of them are designed for the average Joe with a slightly above average PC setup at home.
The Belkin Flip DVI is the third in a series of Flip KVM switches from Belkin designed to tackle this problem with simplicity and a touch of style to boot. The first two Flips were made for D-Sub connections; one, the Flip had a wired remote, while the other was wireless. The latest version, the Flip DVI, is once again wired, but now caters for the digital DVI connection that's more common in newer monitors. With support for dual-link DVI connections, the Belkin Flip DVI can display resolutions up to 2560x1600 as found on 30in monitors or larger and will work for PC and Mac users alike.
Belkin's Flip DVI is made up of three main parts. The first part, its central hub, has a 3.5mm stereo input, a DVI output and two USB ports. Trailing off from the main bulk of the hub are two DVI cables. Each of the DVI cables has two extra appendages hanging off like tendrils; one USB and the other a 3.5mm cable. At this point you'll probably want to glance up at the images to get a clearer idea of what's going on, but the concept is simple.
By connecting your one monitor, your one keyboard, your one mouse and your single set of speakers to the hub, then connecting the hub to each of the two PCs with the trailing DVI cables, you have just shared all of your peripherals between the two machines. Switching from one machine to the other is done using part two of the device, the remote. The remote, or switch, is a small disc-shaped button with a rubber foot that sits on the desk while the hub and cables reside out-of-site under the desk. It has a fairly long cable meaning you can route it through long, out-of-site paths to maintain a clean, cable free desk.
Belkin has colour coded the Flip so it's always easy to know which computer is displayed on the screen. One of the DVI cables is green, one is yellow. The remote button is also colour coded, and has a two-colour LED light that displays the colour of the DVI cable it is currently displaying.
The last part of the device, the power cable, only warrants a mention because of how it improves this version over the last versions. Previous Flip models used power from the USB at the back of each PC and this caused a very annoying problem. For reasons unknown to us, the previous Flip models would, on occasion, lock to one PC or the other. The only way to correct the problem was to remove power from the device by unplugging both USB cables, which required a trip under the desk. With a dedicated power source the Flip DVI should remove this issue by cutting the root of the problem out of the loop. Unfortunately, this problem only becomes evident after a period of time and we weren't able to confirm it had been dealt with during our short testing period. Belkin are aware of the problem and have stated that the problem has been removed.
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