I have two laptop computers, both are Windows 7. One is my work computer and one is my home computer. I have two monitors. I have an external USB keyboard and a wireless (USB) mouse.
I want to be able to have the ability to:
My work computer is completely locked down by my company, so a software solution, such as synergy, won't work, I don't believe.
- Display each computer on one, two, or neither of my monitors. That is, I want the ability to switch seamlessly among the following setups: a) both monitors to show my work, b] one monitor to show my work and one monitor to show my play, and c) both monitors to show my play.
- Control both computers with my external mouse and keyboard. I don't want to have to use the keyboards on my laptops and I don't want to use multiple sets of external keyboards and mice.
I am thinking that a KVM switch is the way to go. I have a 2 port switch, but this isn't enough. I'm not sure exactly what the solution would look like, how many ports I'd need, and what a good option would be.
This is probably an easy question, but I've searched online for it and haven't found a solution that fits exactly what I'm trying to do.
Thanks in advance.
The KVM will definitely hand item #2. Just be a bit careful in selecting a KVM...I believe some require you to install software/drivers on the computer in order to use keyboard keystrokes to initiate the switch between computers. If so, I don't know if your work computer being locked down will be a problem if you do need to install software/drivers.
For item #1, that will more depend on the model of the laptops as whether or not they can support driving two external monitors "natively" (i.e. without any additional hardware) or not. Most laptops can only support one external monitor...but more and more can support more than one external monitor. Even if they can only support one external monitor, there are ways to add the ability to support a second monitor. There are USB graphics adapters as well as ExpressCard graphics adapters (assuming your laptops have an ExpressCard slot). Note that either of those two options will almost definitely require you to install drivers...which might be problematic with the work computer depending on how locked down it is.
I can say that I personally use a USB graphics adapter to drive a second external monitor with my 17" MacBook Pro, which results in me having three screens (two external and the internal screen). I can definitely tell you that you CANNOT do graphics intensive things (i.e. games, etc) on the screen connected to a USB adapter. But, works just fine for email, browsing, etc.
Assuming that you can drive two external monitors, then controlling what goes to what monitor can be done by the input selection on the monitor...assuming the monitors you are using support multiple inputs (most modern monitors allow you to have multiple sources...for example both my monitors support both a DVI and VGA source). If your monitors don't support multiple sources, then in theory you could do it by KVM switches (I have never seen a KVM switch that supports two monitors...does not mean that they don't exist...but you likely would actually have to use two KVM switches).
Your better bet with regard to the dual screens is to make use the internal screens as your second screen (kind of)...and maybe that is what you meant. If so, then you just need one external monitor. Then you can either control which computer drives the external monitor with the KVM switch or if the monitor support multiple inputs, you can just use the input selector on the monitor. With this approach, you will essentially have three screens...each laptop's internal screen and the external monitor. Each laptop's screen will obviously only display stuff from that laptop...but you will be able to switch which laptop gets a second screen.