Plug and play networking without drivers or configuring anything.
Now here’s an elegant and painless solution to getting two PCs talking. Belkin’s Flip KVM switch, combined with the Belkin USB 2.0 File Transfer Cable.
Both are devilishly clever and circumvent the need to create a proper network to connect two PCS. While it’s not a ‘real’ network – you won’t be able to game using this, or run apps on the remote machine – for filesharing there’s no easier way.
There are numerous reasons why you’d want to look past a proper network. Perhaps you regularly plug different machines into your main box for occasional filesharing? Perhaps you run a notebook as a media center but also regularly take it on the road? Perhaps you just don’t have the confidence to set up a secure home network?
Let’s also remember that a separate PC also needs a keyboard and mouse. An alternative is to configure a VNC tunnel between the two, but the degree of fiddling can be high, and using your main keyboard and mouse to control the external machine can result in significant slowdowns.
In such a situation a KVM switch is ideal. Belkin’s new Flip is great value for such a slick KVM at just $99.95. The hub takes a USB keyboard, a USB mouse and a 3.5mm audio connector. The Flip was clearly designed for the home market, the lovely yo-yo style switch itself can be Velcro attached to anywhere convenient. The junction box is attractive enough to leave on your desk, and slim enough to tuck behind anything you like, if you prefer.
In testing there was no noticeable signal degradation and setup was effortless and driverless. You’ll still need drivers if you’re running a Win 98 or Me system, though.
But as nice as it is, it’s just a KVM. The real stunner in this equation is the innocuous USB 2.0 File Transfer Cable. It’s just a plain old cable with a USB 2.0 connector on either end and a small plastic-enclosed lump of some chippage in the middle. But plug it between 2 PCs and you can view each other’s drives, and transfer any files you like between the PCs! Genius!
The cable is perfect for network admins, perfect for leechers, perfect for industrial espionage and perfect for 2-PC home networks. At $99.95 it’s certainly steep for ‘just a cable’, but there’s more to it than that. You can’t do the tricks this cable does with any old USB 2.0 to USB 2.0 cable. There is circuitry that enables this special functionality, and that’s what you’re paying for.
As long as you aren’t intending any gaming across the network, and only intend to transfer files, it’s impossible to think of a simpler way to do it.
Combine the cable with the KVM, and you’ve got a home network entirely free of any software or OS configuration, with transfer speeds of 480Mb/s, and only one keyboard and mouse needed to control it all.
Note that the two products are sold separately.