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I'm reconfiguring my home work environment and one of my ideas is having both a sitting and a standing desk (seperate). As part of this though, I'd like to continue to utilize the same computer between the two desks, instead of finding a way to migrate work between the two in a way that isn't disruptive.

I'm looking for a reverse KVM switch. Instead of forcing one set of monitors and keyboard/mouse to service two (or more) computers, I'd like one computer to be able to swap between two different sets of monitors and keyboard/mouse but support "modern" monitors - HDMI - and keyboards (USB instead of PS/2)?

I've found things like Belkin's Reverse KVM, but that only has support for VGA and PS/2 connections.

Device Requirements:

  • Support for two sets of multi-monitors (at least Dual Screen per set up - total of 4 monitors).
  • Support for USB Keyboard and Mouse connections
  • Swapping between the two sets of hardware should be as simple as a keyboard short cut or a button press on the KVM itself
  • Budget is around $150. If that's not realistic, I'm flexible on this aspect
  • Should have either "long" cables between the two hardware sets or support both HDMI and USB extension cables. The two desks are on opposites sides of a shared wall.
  • Extra points for USB sound/microphone connection
  • Needs to support Windows currently and potentially OS X in the near future.
  • 1
    might I suggest an HDMI splitter:amazon.com/EnjoyGadgets-EGHSP1X2-Splitter-Amplifier-Display/dp/… and wireless keyboard/mouse:amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Combo-MK270-Keyboard/dp/B00BP5KOPA/… cheap and easy to set up. – user588 Mar 23 '16 at 15:55
  • What computer (or video card) do you have? You may be able to set this up without any specialized hardware at all. – Mark Mar 23 '16 at 18:34
  • @Mark, I've got a GTX 770 – Andy Mar 23 '16 at 18:35
  • What exactly are you trying to accomplish with this setup? What are you hoping to achieve? – Digital Boffin Mar 26 '16 at 0:48
  • @Allan, My goal is to have two work desks set up that are connected to the same workstation. I want to be able to move, almost seamlessly, between the two (movement, change of scenery, not sitting all day, etc) and continue working. I don't want to deal with remembering to synchronize files, relaunching everything I was working on, etc. I want to be able to start a process, walk away and then decide to work at the other desk for a while and everything is "just there". My goal, is to have a single workstation that is available at multiple desks – Andy Mar 26 '16 at 13:02
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The market for this type of product is shrinking quite rapidly; the culprit being "the cloud" and virtualization.

Data centers are a thing of the past for small and mid-sized businesses so the need for economical data center products has all but evaporated. This is why you can only find old PS/2 VGA products that meet your needs.

As for (reverse) KVMs that support the newer tech, you aren't going to find it. Display's are intelligent and mice and keyboards are predominately wireless. It's difficult enough to support a traditional setup of 1 keyboard/video/mouse to many computers, it is next to impossible to support a setup of 1 computer to many keyboards/video/mouse.

Why? Well, what "profile" does the OS use when sending a signal to the display? One moment it might be a Dell Ultrasharp monitor with Logitech mouse/keyboard and in another instance it's a Samsung monitor with a generic keyboard and Microsoft mouse. See the problem?

However, you can overcome this by using KVM over IP, but it's expensive. Since the KVM signal is now going over TCP/IP it can connect to any keyboard/video/mouse combination. They even have options for audio and USB. Take a look at these from Avocent.

One thing to keep in mind is this is for datacenter use. If you are expecting to be able to get high performance and high resolution from your video, it's simply not going to happen.

My solution:

Given that you are going between a shared wall....

  • Video Splitter You will need two of these for each pair of monitors
  • Logitech wireless mice You can have multiple input devices on your system, it's just logitech's unifying receiver makes things very easy.
  • USB over CAT5 Extenders (if necessary) You can use this if you want to hook a non-wireless USB mouse/keyboard to the remote desk.

With this you won't have to press a button or need software. However, you should be aware that both systems will be live at the same time.

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