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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings!


I just thought that I would share an experience that I had with a video switcher and put forth a caution to others that may be thinking about similar adventures.


I got a great deal via Dell on an RGB (HD15) 2x8 matrix KVM. For those that don't know, it allows any of eight inputs to be switched to either (or both) of the two outputs (when sharing an input, the first one there is granted control). It really is a slick little unit and I tried my best to find a way to keep it. It even allowed the naming of each input. I have a several PCs and HDTV devices that I had hoped to easily swap around between my computer KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) and my projector KVM (I have a wireless keyboard/mouse for when my VT540 is in use). Unfortunately, it had a few significant drawbacks and I had to send it back (despite the 15% restocking fee - ouch!).


First, each input must have an active keyboard plugged in or the switch will not allow access to that port via hotkey or OSD (the front panel does allow this). Worse, without a keyboard present, the video will not synch (you just get garbage on the outputs). That's a real bummer for us video folks since we have many "view only" devices that lack a keyboard.


Second, there were video aberrations when an HDTV device was in use. The switch is rated to 1600x1200, but all my HDTV devices are 1080i, I thought that it might work... but was wrong. I think that the problem is that it is not a passive device. Rather than just passing the signal through, they have to process it to add the On Screen Display. The OSD is nice, but the video at 1080i blew chunks. It added a kind of screen door that seemed like VGA resolution (though inside each square were the expected XGA pixels from my projector). The gray vertical lines that it added were very prominent. It also added "sparkles" to the image (similar to those seen on a BUD picture that is not perfectly tuned).


I contacted Belkin. The first line of "help" wanted to know what kind of monitor I had, wanted to help step me through changing the resolution, etc. That got nowhere in a hurry. After numerous attempts and promised callbacks, I finally got to someone that specialized in this device. He seemed fairly uninterested but confirmed my suspicions and indicated that this would probably be the case for their other switches (though ones without an OSD might work, I don't know). He also didn't know if component would pass correctly (the thought of grounds being all tied together through the switch stopped me from trying this). He did indicate that Belkin had stopped selling video-only switches a few years ago.


On a somewhat humorous, but "honey I killed the cat" note, in the process of testing I had several cables out that I had not used in a while. I thought that I had really screwed something up because I lost all red in the picture! Gack!! It turns out that Boots (our cat-dog) had chewed on one of my better spare cables. Grrrrr! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/frown.gif


Anyway, I took the bullet on the restocking fee, so that no one else has too. Please e-mail for the address to which you can send donations http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


Cheers!



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I'm looking at the IOGear MasterView II for video/USB switching. It's gotten rave reviews and the price isn't bad. It loads USB drivers into memory so that all the computers think the keyboard and mouse are attached, even when you switch.


I'm currently using a manual video switch and a manual USB switch.


Dennis


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Dennis Whiteman

FastPipe Media, Inc.
 

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Is the masterview better than your previous setup? I too am interested in it for switching a mac and pc.


Thanks.
 

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I haven't tried this myself yet, so take this recommendation in that light.


Linksys has a couple of KVM switches called Pro Connect; a 2-way and a 4-way. These are distinguished by the fact that they are in small blue cases rather than the other series they have in the beige boxes.


Anyway, these are rated for very high resolutions and can be switched from the front panel. They also do not require any software and don't have to be connected to a computer at all.


I think they would be a good candidate for HDTV switches and am planning to get one. The best prices I have found are through pricewatch.com. Some of the dealers have special pricewatch prices on the 2-way Kit that comes complete with cables.
 

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This is a very commen tale when VGA switches and distribution hardware is used for HDTV or any other "real video".


You initial assumptions are correct and valid. There is no difference between HDTV packaged in a VGA format and a high quality computer display. After all, many PCs today double as DVD players, so the video must be equal or better than a stock DVD player. Right?


Unfortunatly most computer hardware engineers don't understand analog electronics period, let alone a specialized field such as broadcast video. This is why these boxes are no good. Many of the switches don't buffer the signal. Use crude analog switch IC's such as the famous 4066 IC. And have no respect for proper termination of the 75ohm transmission line. You can get away with this carelessness with high contrast Windows screens, but not for true video.


My advice is to look at www.markertek.com. They stock many good video and audio switchers. This equipment is not what many in the business consider "broadcast grade" but it is often used as such. And for home HT, the quality is more than adequate. It's not cheap, but not priced out of a serious HT budget either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Shamelessly bumping my own thread before it bytes the digital dust. I've referenced this several times recently, so it is not without merit.

Also, I seem to recall that Dell did not end up charging me the restocking fee. So it only cost me postage both ways to try it. Alas, I now have another project that could use one...
 

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I have the following:


1. The ~$225 www.inlineinc.com #3582 won't pass 2-1080i signals, only 480p or i and 1080i.


2. The ~$300 Key Digital #KD-SW2x1 won't pass a 480p signal along with a 1080i unless sent back to them for a mod.


Jim
 

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I can echo your experience with mid-priced computer-grade switches, both from Belkin, IOGear, and other manufacturers. I tried several from Fry's, all claiming >300Mhz bandwidth, but all exhibiting various levels of video aberrations from darkened bars to rain-like snow. I'm now looking at solutions from Extron, Inline, and Ocean Matrix (from Markertek.com).


Now the question - for a simple 3 or 4-1 switch, is there any reason I *can't* use a high quality VGA switch from Extron, Inline, or Markertek? All of my cables are terminated in HD-15 and carry RGBHV, so it would be a lot of extra effort any money to break them out to 5 BNCs, just to convert them back so I can send to my projector, et al. The VGA switch would be most convenient, but I don't want to order one online until I'm sure it will work.


Any POSITIVE experiences with these vga-oriented switches?


Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Dan, I ended up using two Kramer VGA switches. I detailed the setup in another thread, but it is basically a 2-1 run backward to switch my HTPC between the projector and a 21" monitor. A 4-1 switch is used to select the input of the projector between the HTPC, Unity Motion, 4DTV/HDD200, and a spare. Excellent switches.

Good luck!
 

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Dan: Extron makes rock solid VGA switchers (e.g., SW 2 VGAxi @ $309, SW 4 VGAxi @ $429, SW 6 VGAxi @ $619)...no need to break out to BNC RGBHV. Of course, this switcher outputs VGA as well, so if your projector wants RGBHV via BNCs, you could use a breakout cable *or* insert something like an Extron RGB 160xi @ $650 or RGB 202 Rxi @ $1,100 to tweak the output voltage and produce RGBHV via BNCs. The Extron PC interfaces are obviously very expensive, but they're on eBay all the time for a LOT less. You could probably hunt down one of the SW X VGAxi units there as well.
 

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You can verify the bandwidth of the Extron VGA switchers on their web site. For HDTV shoot for 100MHz or better, which shouldn't be hard to find.


Inline, Altinex & Extron are all professional grade products that won't disappoint, in terms of performance and reliability. The only down side is when buying new they are not cheap.
 

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I have several Extron switchers, and distribution amps: All work seemlessly, but I agree their cost new is eye-opening.


Good manuals, never fail, built like bricks.


I recommend them highly.
 
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