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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 01:04 AM   #1
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Question Mac mini related a potential switcher?

I'm a (relatively) long time lurker, but just registered to actually post tonight.

I'm a PC user who has had an eye on Apple since around the release of OSX. I was blown away by it's beauty. My PC has been modded for several years to emulate the look, but it's not the same. I became an early iPod adopter (I picked up the 1g as soon as it became Windows-compatible) and have upgraded through 3g, 4g, and now a 4g 30gig iPod photo (which I just love - the screen is amazing).

Anyways, enough with the bio. I have never been able to justify the cost of a Mac, given that I have a fully functioning PC and a family of 4 to support. However, the release of the Mac Mini has made adding a Mac to my lineup a possibility.

My plan would be to use both the Mac and the PC on the same desk, with a KVM switch. I'm not ready to give up the PC, as I have too many apps I use, and too many hardware upgrades. I figured I would share my CRT monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

My questions are, does anyone have any experiences to share regarding Mac/PC compatible KVM switches? I believe Staples has a Belkin model in stock that includes speaker switching. It's a little pricier than I'd like to pay, but I don't think I will have a choice. Can anyone recommend a cheaper one (that I can pick up in Ontario/buy online and not pay an arm and a leg for shipping from the U.S.) that will work with both the Mac and a PC?

Question 2: my mouse is a USB mouse, but my keyboard is PS/2 - a Microsoft Internet Navigator that is less than a year old. Does anyone have any experience with PS/2 to USB adaptors that work with the Mini? I read a Mac Mini review by Scot Finnie, which indicated he didn't have any luck using adapters. I suppose a new USB keyboard is pretty affordable, but to make this whole thing work, I need to keep the cost down to convince the wife.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 03:38 AM   #2
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I have no experience with KVM switches and well to be honest I didn'tknow what they were or if they existed before reading your post. However this switch seems pretty darn cheap and has all the ports you need.

EDIT: From what I understand is that the switch emulates the keyboard. Which, in my mind, would mean that there would be no problem with USB adapters considering that the switch translates your input to a USB cord.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 10:34 AM   #3
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At work I use a nifty little program called Remote Desktop Connection. It lets you Net meeting into a PC. You are even able to cut and paste between platforms.

I use it over a 100-base network and its is fairly fast. I would not game with it, but it does let me run any PC programs I need.

This would eliminate the need for a switch. Best of all, Microsoft offers the program for free.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 11:04 AM   #4
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I think there are KVM switches that include PS2 to USB conversion.

An alternative to Remote Desktop Connection is VNC (, which would work in either direction, has lots of great options, and also works with Linux. Keep in mind both these programs cause video latency because the video is sent over the network (albeit in intelligently compressed form), which is why you wouldn't run games over it.

I've used KVM switches in the past with multiple PCs and it's really cool and easy to use, although I always thought the price of the switch makes it not worth it unless you have limited desktop space or an expensive monitor. Keep in mind that an iBook includes keyboard, trackpad and display ...

Also keep in mind that Mac and Windows keyboard layouts are not exactly the same. If you're using a PC keyboard on a Mac, the "Windows" key is used as the Cmd key, Alt is Alt/Option, and Ctrl is Ctrl. This means the positions of Cmd and Opt are switched from where they would normally be on a Mac. There are software hacks that can change this layout though. Or you could use two keyboards and switch everything else.

Finally, the cheapest option is obviously to manually switch the cables whenever you switch the computer you're using, which could be fine if you plan to sit down and just use one computer or the other for hours at a time. Buy the Mini, do it this way at first, then after a while you can decide whether to get a KVM or sell the PC.

Last edited by elmer; Mar 23rd, 2005 at 11:15 AM.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2005, 11:44 AM   #5
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welcome dmbfan,
cannot offer any meaningful advice, but still, Bienvenido!
"il mondo grigio il mondo blu"

I miss MacNutt !
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