Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router ó and by extension, your network ó is as secure as possible.
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Belkin OmniView 4-Port USB KVM Switch with Audio
Author: Roy Santos Review Date: 6/27/2002
Model Number: F1DS104U ($169.99)
There are many reasons to keep several PCs. Maybe youíve moved to a new operating
system, e.g., Windows XP, and discovered that, sadly, many of your old peripherals
donít work on your new machine. Rather than buying all new accessories and devices,
maybe you want to keep the old machine. Maybe youíre running a server out of
one computer and have dedicated another for gaming. For whatever reasons, very
few will want two or three monitors, keyboards, and mice on their desk. To keep
one of each peripheral and still control all PCs, you need a KVM (keyboard,
video, and mouse) switch. Belkinís
USB KVM switch offers a stylish solution to those who have USB mice and
keyboards, and want audio support as well.
Relatively low price
No included cables
Keyboard response slowdown
Installation of the peripherals to the KVM switch is easy, but not without
its quirks. There are four sets of the following ports, each set lined up more
or less vertically: audio, microphone, VGA (for the monitor), and a type B,
or downstream, USB port. The main set, to which you connect the peripherals
themselves, is composed also of audio, mic, and VGA, but with two type A, or
upstream, USB ports. The latter set is where you connect the mouse and keyboard.
Belkin has laid them out well enough, though the main set and the set next to
it donít line up, so thereís potential for cable confusion. Moreover, the USB
downstream ports are labeled CPU1, CPU2, and so on, though by the time youíve
installed the VGA and audio/mic, you should be able to figure out that these
ports are for the mouse and keyboard. Despite the partially unfortunate port
layout and labels, you should be up in a few minutes, especially if youíve used
one of these switches before. Belkin aids newbies with a helpful quick installation
Instead of laying horizontally, the way most KVM switches do, this Belkin model
and others in the OmniView SOHO (small office home office) series, stand diagonally.
If you can imagine standing a rectangular box on its short side, then tipping
it at about a 45-50 degree angle, you have an idea of what this device looks
like. With the help of a flat silver base that looks like a small ping-pong
paddle that you install at one end, the box stands at an angle such that the
ports become more easily accessible. But if you think youíll have cables jutting
out of the top of the KVM switch, Belkinís got it covered--literally. A plastic
cap that the company calls a "Cable Management System" goes on top
of the unit and cinches all the cables, allowing for a much cleaner look. On
the front, which would be the other short side of this tipped rectangular box,
are four lights with corresponding buttons that switch between four PCs.
There are no PS/2 ports, so only get this model if both of your PCs have USB
ports and you have a USB mouse and keyboard. (Other models
from the same series offer different ports for different configurations.)
Since there are no included cables, you will need to purchase a VGA, USB, and
optional audio cables for each PC you want to connect. The advantage of USB
peripherals is that you only need one cable for each PC to get mouse and keyboard
control; with PS/2 input devices, you need two cables for each PC.
The performance of the Belkin KVM switch was uneven. Switching between PCs
takes less than two seconds. It effortlessly switches monitor resolutions without
missing a beat--or in this case, a pixel. However, I noticed that the video
signal had degraded such that there was a visible wave, or "shimmy"
when viewing a black background. When I connected one of the PCs directly to
the monitor, the imperfection disappeared. Mouse response was excellent, but
I had a quibble with the keyboard performance. There was a noticeable slowdown
in response time, especially when I typed fast. Letters would go missing or
multiple words mysteriously became one. It happened frequently enough, perhaps
once every paragraph, that it became a major letdown. To those who do a lot
of typing, particularly speedy typing, like writers or frequent instant message
users, it's a flaw worth noting. As with the video, responsiveness returned
when I connected the keyboard directly to the PC. Audio support is a plus with
this model, though I recommend getting shielded audio cables, rather than the
cheaper unshielded ones, to prevent buzzing and hisses.
This Belkin model costs about $170, cheaper than some of its competitors, though
some of them include cables. Its design gives it an edge over other boxy devices,
but performance leaves something to be desired. You may want to check out the
competition's packages before you settle for Belkin's offering. If you experience
anything like I did, you'll be switching brands even more quickly than you switch