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Editor: Julio Franco

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Conclusion

The Aten Laptop USB KVM switch worked just as advertised during our testing. In this regard, if you bought this device looking for standard KVM functionality that somehow interacted with your laptop via USB, you may end up extremely disappointed. This "KVM switch" works very well for its intended purpose, which like we put it in our introduction, acts more like a wired remote desktop solution.

Plugging and using the device is pretty painless if you have the software already installed on both computers, and having the drivers integrated into the switch just makes sense for this kind of portable device. The remote access window pops up automatically when you plug the device into both computers.

Although we didn't test with all operating systems supported by the Aten device, as long as it's Windows it should get you covered (2000, XP, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Vista).

The remote access feature works just as any other remote desktop software that I have used. There is a slight delay between the two systems but this is the case for all other remote desktop software I have used before. The file transfer function worked painlessly as well.

I liked being able to match the remote PCs resolution with that of the local PC by clicking a single button. This allowed me to bump the resolution up from 1280x800 to 1920x1200, giving me a lot more room to work.

If you do a lot of cross-system work and find yourself syncing files between your notebook and desktop frequently, the USB KVM switch might just save you a lot of time and headache.

Late last year the Aten Laptop USB KVM switch started selling for about $100, but has dropped to ~$75 since. If you already have a router at home and don't mind playing with some basic networking settings, you could replicate the functionality of the Aten device using Windows' built-in remote desktop software or some other free alternative. So it might not be as easy to setup, but it's free, so we leave that final decision for you to make.