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Sometimes the more useful an object is, the more I take it for granted, which might be the case with one of my hardware favorites, the Belkin OmniView. This four-port keyboard/video/mouse switch (KVM switch) might not have leading-edge technology, but I couldn't live without it.

The OmniView lets me control four computers from one keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It's not cheap, but it's electronic and has a number of benefits over a manual switch. For example, I can switch computers without taking my hands off the keyboard. Also, when you use manual switches, NT decides that the keyboard and mouse are no longer connected on inactive systems. So when you switch back, either the keyboard or mouse (and sometimes both) is no longer available. The OmniView keeps the connections live to eliminate problems with the keyboard or mouse.

I have several computers that I use for testing, developing software, and writing. They range from Pentiums to an old 486DX2. I could never have four or five monitors on my desk, more keyboards than Yanni, or a family of mouse devices. A better choice is one good monitor and a switchbox. The switchbox costs less than a second monitor costs, reduces my electric bill, and frees up desk space.

I predict that some users might think that keeping track of which system they're looking at will be a downside to this setup. But I use different wallpaper for each system, and I change the My Computer icon to show the computer name. If your desk holds more monitors than a broadcast studio, check out the OmniView—unless, of course, all those monitors keep you warm.

Belkin * 800-223-5546
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