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Kool Tools: ATEN's MasterView Max (CS1758) KVM Switch

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Kool Tools

Kool Tools

ATEN's MasterView Max (CS1758) KVM Switch

by MacTech Staff

The Differences in KVMs

When MacTech moved offices last year, we were looking for ways to consolidate the number of servers that we had, as well as the amount of electricity being used in the setup. One of the easiest ways to do this, is a KVM ... a keyboard/video/monitor switch.

There are a wide variety of vendors out their that make KVMs. We've found that there are a few reasons to choose one vendor over another: speed, quality, and features.

Speed may seem like an odd thing to apply to KVMs, but if you are the impatient type, you want a KVM that is responsive. That's just one of the differences between the cheap KVMs that you may see, and a professional grade KVM.

Since we wanted to have the ability to have non-Macs in our server room, we wanted to make sure that we could handle not only a USB interface, but also PS/2 for keyboards, etc... For this reason, we selected the ATEN product. ATEN does a great job of supporting the multiple interfaces through their cables. They all connect the same way to the back of the KVM, but the other end of the cable is a USB or PS/2 connector as appropriate.

One of the other nice features of the ATEN product is the ability to do on-screen programming, so that you can identify the machine you are working with. For example, if you press switch 3, you want to know that, that is your "FileMaker Server", and as a result, you can have that display on screen. You'll see more about On Screen Display below.

There are other features like auto-scans, where you can have the KVM go from one machine to the next on a time interval. The ATEN products do this, and other features very well.


Eight-port MasterView Max (CS1758), is a multiplatform KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch that enables control and access of up to eight computers from a single USB keyboard, USB mouse, and monitor console. MasterView Max allows system administrators to do away with expenses and efforts involved with redundant hardware, providing them with the option of configuring up to 63 additiona CS1758s, in a three-level arrangement, to control up to 512 computers from a single console. The multi-platform support, facilitates control of Macs, PCs, Sun Solaris systems, or Linux-based systems, by a single KVM switch. MasterView Max extends multi-platform support by supporting the special keys on both Mac and Sun keyboards.

MasterView Max also features Multimedia keyboard support (volume up/down, mute, and pulse), and audio that allows users to enjoy music while working. A single microphone can be used to provide input to all computers, and a single set of speakers can be used to listen to audio output of each computer.

MasterView Max features ATEN VSE technology, which provides video resolution of up to 2048 x 1536. The built-in AutoScan mode lets users monitor every attached computer at regular intervals of time. While AutoScan mode is active, ordinary keyboard and mouse functions are suspended - only AutoScan compliant keystrokes, and mouse clicks can be input. User must exit Auto Scan mode in order to regain normal control of the console.

MasterView Max provides three ways to access computers connected with it:

    1) Push button port selection switches located on front panel of the unit.

    2) Entering keyboard Hotkey combinations.

    3) Selecting from menus provided by the OSD.

Hotkey port control function allows control and configuration of switch from the keyboard. All hotkey operations begin by invoking Hotkey Mode. An alternate set of Hotkey Invocation keys is provided, in case the default set conflicts with programs running on the computers.

On Screen Display (OSD) functions, allow assigning of a unique name to each computer and accessing it via a menu-driven interface. OSD can also be used to rapidly switch to any port; scan selected ports only, designate a port as a Quick View Port, create or edit a port name, or make OSD setting adjustments. OSD incorporates a two-level (Administrator/User) authorization system. Before the OSD Main Screen comes up, a dialog box appears that asks users to provide Username and Password. If the Password Function has been set, the user must provide them in order to access the OSD Main Screen.

Physical Case

MasterView Max is designed for both desktop and rack mounting, and it comes with 1U, 19- inch rack-mountable casing and status-monitoring port LEDs. 8 orange LEDs indicate that the computer attached to the corresponding port is online, whereas 8 green LEDs indicate that the computer attached to the corresponding port, is the one that has the switch focus. A separate power LED, lights up to indicate that switch is receiving power.

MasterView Max employs USB keyboard and mouse for the console, but the dual interface support allows users to connect both PS/2 and USB computers, on the same switch, with the option of connecting the switch to computer with PS/2 connectors, or USB connectors, depending on the cable used to link the switch to the computers. Dual interface support is available for PC compatible systems only. MasterView Max is compatible with Mac OS8.6 or higher, Windows 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP, and Solaris.

Setting up MasterView Max is easy, as it requires plugging cables into their appropriate ports, with no software to be configured and no installation routines to be executed. MasterView Max is hot pluggable and it detects device change, allowing adding or removing computers for maintenance, without powering down the switch. MasterView Max is firmware upgradeable through flash ROM, and it supports complete keyboard emulation for error-free booting. Firmware upgrade is achieved by using a Windows-based Firmware Upgrade Utility (FWUpgrade.exe). We have not seen a need yet to do this, so not having Mac support here was not a big issue.

MasterView Max supports CPU connectors including 8 SPDB15 Female for keyboard, mouse, and video, and 8 microphone and stereo ports for audio. MasterView Max has operating temperature range of 0 to 50 degrees C, operating humidity range of 0 to 80 percent RH, storage temperature range of minus 20 to 60 degrees C, and power rating of DC 5V, 3.4W, 2.6A.

MasterView Max package comprises of 1 8-port KVM switch, 1 power adapter, 1 rack mount kit, 1 firmware upgrade cable (RJ-11 socket), user manual, and quick start guide.

MacTech Staff


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