Does this technology exist?

What I’d like to do is have my computer in one place and be able to use it on multiple monitors throughout the house. This can involve any technology, wiring, disconnecting cords and reconnecting others, what have you. Anything besides buying a totally different computer I’d have to reinstall everything on and have seperate save games.

Bascially, I’d like to be able to use the computer either where it is located on a local monitor attached to it, or another monitor in another (upstairs 2 floors) room. Obviously not both at the same time. Or it could be a server deal or a switch of some kind. Certainly someone has had this problem/want before.

My thought was to run VGA and speaker cable through the wall to the TV and speakers in the other room. But how would I set up a keyboard and mouse? They would be too far away for wireless, maybe USB cables?

I don’t know, is this possible? Does it exist?

Same question for an XBox 360, but that’s less important.

That’s more or less the definition of UNIX networking

A reverse KVM switch? You’re not going to be able to do things like gaming practically over any kind of network solution.

Edit: I’m not sure what the cable length limit is, but we’ve got some pretty damn long ones around the office.


What you’re looking for did/does sort of exist, in a Windows world.

Microsoft released a technology called “Smart Displays” a number of years ago. Basically, the display is an LCD with wifi built in that uses remote desktop to log in to your PC elsewhere in the house. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s been supported for several years now (it was pretty much stillborn as far as I can tell).

I’ve got one of the old ViewSonic airpanels that were released at the time. It works pretty well – it doesn’t set speed records, of course, but it works well. On a similar note, so should any thin client technology you might consider.

If you decide you’re hopped up on the smart display thing, PM me and I’d be happy to loan you my airpanel for testing. It’s been sitting in a corner for the last 9 months (since I got my wife a laptop). I’m out in Alexandria, so not far away at all. CNET review of my smart display… Looks like they’re on ebay for a couple hundred bucks.

Also, I don’t think long video cables is a good idea – don’t they lose signal strength the longer they get? I remember my KVM was highly unhappy with the 15’ video cable I used to have on it.


EDIT: linky.

a matrix kvm is what you’re likely looking for. it’ll be expensive.

i saw this one mentioned on a few sites recently, probably because it’s got dvi on top of all the typical stuff.

Yes, you’re looking at some kind of KVM switch. You can get VGA cables that are up to 100 feet long, I had to get some big-ass ones like that when I used to have our computer in another room from our projector. USB hubs let you run almost arbitrarily long USB cables, so that’s what you’ll do for keyboard and mouse, and of course sound cables are no problem.

The VGA cables will be the expensive part – big long ones can get pricey. Shop around online, Google the hell out of it. Measure exactly how long you need it to be and then add five feet. Practical limit will be around a hundred feet before you start getting signal distortion on conventional shielded cables (actually, you’ll get some blur at anything over twenty feet, but for games it should still be OK). You can get VGA signal amplifiers to handle unbounded distances, but then you’re starting to talk real money. I think the cables I got were like thirty feet.

The big problem of course is that you’ll have to go to the computer itself to switch it to whatever monitor you want to use…

Hell, I might actually still have one of those long cables. I’ll look in the garage when I get home. If I do, I’ll sell it to you for 30% off the best Google price you can find, you pay shipping.

How many remote stations are you actually talking? If only one, then a cheap KVM switch would work fine. If more, it’ll cost more.

Also, don’t you have a girlfriend or something? Check with her before drilling holes through the floors and walls. My wife wound up vetoing all visible cabling (which torpedoed the rear surround sound speakers), which actually was a good thing once we had kids – long runs of visible cables + young kids = VERY BAD.

Final edit: you can do the same thing for a 360 with VGA output. I actually have a nice 2x2 VGA switcher – I have my PC and my 360 as inputs, my projector and monitor as outputs. So if my wife wants to watch a 360 movie on the projector while I game on the PC, it’s two button presses and we’re there; or if I want to play a PC game on the projector while she plays 360 on the monitor, we can trivially do that. Can’t remember where I found the switcher online either, though. It was only about $150 which was a really low price for a switcher.

Aleck: Smart Displays would have been worthless for gaming – not nearly enough speed.

You wanna bring back terminals? Maybe the Beeper King was right, maybe technology is cyclical.

Laptop + multiple docking stations.

I’ll note that the key feature you’re looking for is not having to re-install software and games.

Given that, some sort of remote disk mount – even as simple as sharing your C: folder on your main computer – could do the trick.

UNIX/Mac/Linux is better set up for this (thru NFS), but a windows domain server setup might work?

Thanks for the offer Aleck, and thanks everyone else. I’m going to use this thread to research a bit.

It sounds like the above mentioned reverse KVM is what you need. Then add one of those extenders that use cat5 for extreme distances.
No idea about these devices. I had a friend that use to use one. That’s the first one that google popped up on:
cat5 keyboard extender

Either way it seems to be a pretty pricey solution.

There might be a cheaper (but probably less reliable solution). Nothing stops you from using multiple keyboards/mouse on a single pc. I have multiple sets hooked up to the same pc through usb and ps2 just fine. How about multiple sets of class 1 bluetooth keyboards/mice? As far as video goes, grab a vga splitter that amplifies the signal and sends it out to multiple monitors at the same time. I’ve run 50ft VGA (bought from monoprice) without any issues (no ghosting at all). So in this case no kvm would be needed. You would have one pc with multiple sets of keyboard/mouse hooked up wireless, and the vga output would be split and sent out to multiple monitors at the same time over 100ft vga cables. Heck how long can you run usb? Maybe with usb repeaters you can just have multiple usb keyboard/mice hooked up.

usb over cat5 up to 150ft (again no idea if this stuff actually works)

Only $24 for a 100ft vga cable.

vga multiplier seems to be pretty cheap ($20-$30. again I haven’t used any of this stuff)

cat5 kvm extender:

If you want to go all Linux (and I know you don’t) there’s a software solution with a variant of VNC (TurboVNC) that lets you run OpenGL apps remotely.