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Aten CS1782 DVI KVMP Switch Review

   -   July 2, 2008
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Closer Look:

Now we’ll view the front and rear of the CS1782. The front panel may look a little bare, but it has everything you need. Starting from left to right are the two main Port Selection buttons. Since this KVM supports independent USB, audio, and KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switching, each of these Port Selection buttons have multiple functions. See the table below for a list of the functions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Function / Number
Component
Description
1 & 2
Port Selection Buttons

Pressing and holding either button alone will bring the focus of the entire unit to the corresponding attached computer (i.e. holding the port #1 button for two seconds forces KVM, USB, and audio to all focus on computer #1).  

Press a button for less than two seconds to bring ONLY the KVM focus to the computer attached to CPU 1. 

Pressing and holding both buttons together for two seconds will begin Auto Scan Mode (more on this in a bit).

 
Upper (KVM) LED’s
Port LED’s

KVM LED’s: DIM ORANGE lights indicate attached computer is turned on.  

BRIGHT ORANGE lights indicate attached computer is focused (currently being controlled)

 
Lower (USB) LED’s
Port LED’s

USB LED’s: DIM GREEN indicates USB is connected to attached computer. 

BRIGHT GREEN indicates attached computer is focused (attached computer controls USB hub).

 

 

 

 

 

The real party begins on the rear of the CS1782. Turning it around, you’ll see all the jacks and ports necessary to deliver on the promises I told you about earlier!

 

If you’ve ever looked on the back of your computer, you probably know exactly what all of these ports and jacks are for. Here’s bit of a diagram that is a little more informative as to what goes where. Two PC’s, two Mac’s, two Linux boxes (kernel 2.6 or later!), or any combination in-between. Also take a look at the upper right-hand corner on the rear of the unit, and you will see a Firmware Upgrade Port. One of the first things to catch my eye was the Firmware Upgrade Cable. This is unusual but wholly welcome, as it means the CS1782 can be ‘fixed’ should Aten find a compatibility problem with a peripheral that plugs into it. More importantly, it means the CS1782 can possibly be upgraded should a new peripheral hit the market that the unit didn’t support right out of the box (think: BIOS upgrade for a motherboard to fix/enhance/make compatible).

 

The last thing I want to talk about before I get into the actual testing of the CS1782 is its size. I’ve owned many KVM’s in my life, and currently have a D-Link 4-port KVM and a ZoneNet 4-port KVM. While most 2-4 port KVM’s are not large by any means, they do tend to take up some of your desktop or wherever you place them. Here’s a couple of shots of the CS1782 with 80mm case fans next to and on top of it just to give you an idea of how little real-estate you’ll have to give up with this thing (which is even more impressive when you consider everything that has to go under the hood to do DVI, 7.1 audio, USB, automatic scanning and switching, as well as firmware upgrading):

 

 

One thing I feel the need to point out here, is that this KVM is definitely very current in terms of technology, with the ability to support DVI, USB, and 7.1 audio, yet I was left scratching my head over the fact that the Firmware Upgrade Cable depends on an older technology (serial/COM port) to work. Most motherboards today, especially those on the cutting edge, and even including the latest models from Dell and HP, do not have a COM port. Almost every motherboard does have a COM header, but almost every motherboard neglects to actually ship the port module with the board.

A secondary negative is the fact that both computers attached to the KVM must be off, and a third computer must be used to perform the upgrade. Now of course, you can simply detach one computer from the KVM and attach it directly to your mouse, keyboard and monitor, and then perform the upgrade (assuming it has a COM/serial port), but that seems like about the same amount of extra work as having a third computer to perform the upgrade. For guys like me, and maybe a lot of you, this isn’t such a big deal, especially since most of us have a laptop as well as our desktop(s). I’m wondering however, how many that would have two desktops, will also have a third desktop or a laptop to go this route.

Either way, I congratulate Aten for thinking ahead and providing a way to upgrade, but in my opinion, it should be done with a flash drive attached to a USB cable that can be plugged into the CS1782, or something similar via USB that doesn’t involve the need of a COM port (if I want to upgrade my CS1782, I’ll have to dig for an hour through too many boxes just to find a COM module that will work on any of my motherboards that have the header).That being said, the upgrade process looks to be extremely pain-free if you have everything ready. Simply download the firmware update from Aten, and run the utility within Windows while attached to the Firmware Upgrade Port. Everything is automated, and Bill from Aten assures me they’ve made it as smooth as it sounds.

(Note: one thing we all understand is that smooth sometimes turns into a nightmare, and thankfully Aten has thought ahead on that as well. If a firmware upgrade goes badly, you can simply get a screwdriver, remove the screws on the CS1782, pop the top off, and put a jumper cap on two pins and it will reset the firmware to factory default…just like clearing a motherboard’s BIOS!)

 




  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: (Continued)
  3. Closer Look: Specifications
  4. Testing: Setup
  5. Testing: (KVM , USB,Audio Testing / Performance)
  6. Conclusion
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