IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM
IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM Review
As work from home became the standard during the pandemic, not everyone worked for companies willing to dispatch massive quantities of duplicate peripherals to employee’s homes. And many people didn’t have the space to create two computing rigs, one for their personal use and another for work—and some people required shared peripherals between their mobile devices and more powerful desktop computers. Not everybody owns a pair of modern, USB-C enabled computers. Given work from home, many people also sought ways to share peripherals between their gaming consoles and their computers, or between different types of computers, such as an Apple Mac and a PC.
IT operations may also require shared peripherals to manage servers.
The statements above assert the use case for the IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM, a product that looks like a throwback to the 1990s, though it now sports HDMI rather than a VGA video, and it powers from a USB-A connection rather than an external power supply in most cases. KVM, BTW, stands for Keyboard-Video-Mouse, which were the commonly shared peripherals in offices when these devices first made their appearance.
If your computer mostly relies on USB-C and Bluetooth, you likely will never use a product like the $99 IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM. Your switching experience will likely consist of unplugging a hub from the USB-C port and plugging it into another USB-C port. Multi-point Bluetooth devices easily switch, either automatically, or via a tap or two on the device.
While that modern work experience mostly obviates the need for a KVM, I say you likely won’t need one, not absolutely, as a KVM switch can still play a role in creating a more elegant user experience.
IOGEAR has updated their KVM to support modern use cases, including digital audio and video via HDMI, though they have yet to embrace USB-C, at least in this device.
What we like
As complex and unwieldy as the IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM appears at first, it is really a rather simple switching device. IOGEAR makes the switching easy with a small switch that can be placed among the peripherals. Once everything is connected, it is the only part of the device that needs to be accessible. A single tap of the mechanical switch shifts all of the inputs and outputs from one computer to another computer.
The review model, GCS92HU, supports:
- 1 4K HDMI display at 60 Hz (HDCP 2.2 compliant)
- 1 USB-A connection that acts as a hub
- Audio Input
- Audio 2.1 Output
The lengthy bundle of cables is what traditionally makes a KVM switch both useful and a bit unwieldy. Unlike short cables on USB-C hubs that typically offer a few inches between hub and device, with this switch the computers might be on different desks. In the case of a laptop and desktop, one can sit on the desk, the other below it. Server management might find one set of the 48″ cables on an external-facing console with the other set burrowed through to a server.
With a KVM switch, devices connect to the switch rather than a computer. Start by plugging in HDMI, a wired keyboard, or a wireless transmitter, and the same for the mouse. Analog audio to a microphone and speakers can also be connected.
Then take the PC1 or PC2 set of cables and connect them to the target computers.
To switch between computers, simply push the switch, and the KVM reroutes the outputs immediately.
Once connected, there isn’t much complication. Laptop users may find it a bit annoying to connect and reconnect multiple ports, but that is the price of peripheral sharing.
For those with a more modern laptop, the KVM switch can also be used with a USB-C hub that would act like the traditional ports on a computer. Attach the cables to the USB-C hub rather than to the computer. This configuration requires another hub, but it makes connecting to a laptop a much faster experience.
The cables and switch all appear of solid build quality, though I would like to see the switch itself on a heftier wire. I have been around devices like this for decades and I have seen far too often a thin wire torn apart by an inadvertent tangle in a chair or desk drawer, or myriad other things that catch or stretch it. That said, the switch comes with a 3-year warranty and free lifetime US-based technical support.
What could be improved
With so many cables, it would have been nice if IOGEAR had labelled the bundles or even wrapped them separately, making it intuitive for buyers to know which bundle goes to which computer. As it is, owners need to unwrap the bundle and lay them out, carefully aligning the USB-A, HDMI and audio cables so they can more easily determine which set of cables goes to which computer.
It is not clear in the documentation what owners should do with a shared audio port. My instincts tell me that this set-up would require a splitter to bring audio and video into a single port, but I’m not sure if all analog ports are smart enough to manage that configuration.
The website and documentation state: The GCS92HU may require an external power supply via the USB Micro-B Power Port. For the USB Micro-B cable connecting to the USB Micro-B Power Port, it requires a separate purchase based on the type of power supply you use. I think it would be useful to also share under which circumstances such a configuration would be required. I would also like to see a diagram showing the switch connected to a USB-C hub. (I know that a wide variety of configurations could exist, but I think most people would extrapolate from a diagram that shares how best to use the switch in a USB-C environment.)
It would also be ideal if the switch supported USB 3.0 speeds.
IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM: The Bottom Line
KVM switches can seem daunting for most people used to modern computing environments. Not all computing environments, however, include all of the latest equipment, nor use cases that allow for easy swapping of peripherals for one reason or another. The other advantage of a KVM switch comes in reduced energy costs, as it keeps down the number of peripherals drawing power, and it also ensures access to the best peripherals all the time, rather than a secondary set-up with a less than ideal monitor or keyboard. Thus, products like the IOGEAR 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM continue to bring value.
IOGEAR provided the 2-Port USB HDMI Cabled KVM for review. Images courtesy of IOGEAR.
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