Review – MoniSwitch2USB

Company: Dr. Bott LLC
Estimated Price: $139

If you’ve been using Macintoshes for any length of time, there’s a good chance you own more than one Mac. You may also have a set up a simple AppleTalk network in your home or maybe you recently moved up to Ethernet. The only problem with this is the network is most likely contained on a single desk. That single desk also has two (or more) of everything, two mice, two keyboards, too little room, and too much clutter!

Have no fear, MoniSwitch USB is here! This new switchbox from Dr. Bott LLC is the answer for sharing a single keyboard, mouse, and monitor between two or four Macs (or USB-enabled PCs) depending on which model you choose.

This great new switchbox is a real dream. It is simple to set up and use and most stylish. I’ve been using one for about a month now, and it looks like a real winner for users with multiple Macs but only one favorite keyboard and mouse and/or only one good monitor.

Set Up
I tested the MoniSwitch on my Desktop Mac and PowerBook Bronze keyboard. The set up is quite simple. First hook up your monitor and your USB peripherals to the MoniSwitch. Now use the high quality video and USB cables included with your MoniSwitch to hook up to your two USB Macs and you’re ready. Boot up and take off switching between two to four Macs. That means, no more pushing around multiple keyboards, and no more contorting to reach that other mouse. You’re stylin’!

If you’ve begun a long download on one and you want to check on the progress, simply turn the dial on the MoniSwitch over to that Mac. The screen will go black for a second then pop up with that particular Mac’s video. Pause for just a second then move your mouse. You’ll see you’ve successfully switched not only the monitor but also your input devices over to the Mac you were wanting to check. Voilà!

I can’t rave about this product enough‹I just love it! Finally my single 17″ monitor will be useful on both my Macs. I can finally toss out that old 14″ beast I bought secondhand and be done with it! Phew! What a treat. Now what is that URL for eBay?

Looking Good!
The handsome “graphite” (actually silver) Moniswitch sits on your desktop and you simply turn the dial to the Mac you wish to view. Its neutral silver color will fit with any color Mac you have. The actual lines of the MoniSwitchUSB are quite eye catching. It’s contemporary without being cold.

Bronze Keyboards Users
Oh and for you PowerBook users? Monitor spanning functions perfectly when you are using the MoniSwitch. I thought that might present a problem with the MoniSwitch; none at all. Of course, that’s what you want with a product like this: no worries. Simple straightforward usefulness. Dr. Bott delivers!

Remember this handy tip when you arrive home. Hook up the video cable while your PowerBook is asleep, then wake your PowerBook. Your PowerBook will then reconnect to the external monitor all without re-booting! It will even remember your multiple monitor preferences!

I’ve had some problems with video on my Apple Monitor. Sometimes I simply don’t get a video signal. This was frustrating as I thought it was a problem with the video chipset on my desktop Mac. I decided that possibly it was my monitor cable. I replaced the cable with one that Dr. Bott includes with the MoniSwitch. BINGO! No more missing signal. Not only is the MoniSwitch built well, they don’t scrimp on the cables they include. This is important because SwitchBoxes are notorious for providing fuzzy video with lesser cables.

The only problem I encountered in my testing was sometimes when switching between the new Macs the keyboard and mouse wouldn’t work. This is rare and what I would do is then switch back to the previous Mac, then switch again. The mouse and keyboard would be fully functional the second time around. No crashes, no wild cursors. Just a hiccup once in a great while. Though from what I understand, this is a fault of the Mac OS Finder and not of the MoniSwitch itself.

The only other miss is the support/warranty for the MoniSwitch. Support is only available from Dr. Bott KG, which is the parent company of Dr. Bott LLC. The German page does have a support link, but it’s written only in German, which makes reading those FAQs a little tough for the average English speaker. However, the MoniSwitch is so straightforward you may never need more than the excellent included instructions.

I found no warranty information on any of the Dr. Bott’s web pages nor on the product’s packaging. I’d confirm that information before you buy. However, I don’t think there’s much that could ever go wrong with the MoniSwitch.

If you’ve got two older Macs, not to worry. MoniSwitchADB is available. The MoniSwitchUSB is available with a PCI Card to enable your older ADB Mac with USB (just $40 more). Don’t forget the iMate! So you can convert your ADB keyboard to USB. Caution though: once you plug in a USB keyboard via the PCI USB card you won’t be able to soft power up or hold the shift key down at startup, as the USB drivers load too late to provide that function. Perhaps they can be renamed to re-enable that functionality.

All in all, the MoniSwitch is a true winner. simple, stylish and it works. It rates 4 MacMice in my book. I would have given it 5 MacMice if it weren’t for the warranty and support questions. I never knew how I worked without it!

MacMice Rating: 4.5

Bob McCormick

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