I’d be royally disappointed if this thing felt like a feather instead of a good paperweight. Luckily, it is the latter but hopefully doesn’t function like one.
The GCS1204 is definitely made of sterner stuff and has a well weighted feel, allowing it to stay put on your desk as you cable it up to all your systems. The front panel is fairly plain, but the brushed aluminum gives it a bit of class. The buttons are part of the aluminum panel and provide a very solid feel when pushed to activate one of the four ports. The switch supports scanning of the ports with a user definable interval from 1 – 99 seconds and can allow individual switching of focus for the USB Hub and Audio or it can leave both alone and just switch KVM focus. The focus is indicated by a green and orange LED indicator on each port.
Also on the front are an audio and mic jack which would come in handy if you use a headset. The front panel also harbors one of the two powered USB 2.0 ports and can be used for pretty much anything. Right off the bat, I’d say a flash card reader, maybe a web cam, or even a scanner.
Moving to the back, you’ll see the four ports that you use to hook up your machines. The first set of ports on the left hand side is where you would plug in your monitor, USB keyboard and mouse and any other USB peripheral you’d want to share out, like a USB hard drive for instance or a printer. The mic and speaker jack is also here and is where you would plug in your shared set of speakers and a microphone if you aren’t using a headset.
Finally, the cables are thick and well shielded and the mic and speaker jacks even have plugs that allow you to cover them when they aren’t in use. This minimizes the chance that a dangling speaker or mic cable could cause feedback and noise if it came in contact with anything. Caps are also provided for the DVI portions in case you want to wire everything up, but not plug anything in yet. Nice touch.
The GCS1204 requires that every system have a DVI port and that every system has USB (PS2 via an adapter for mouse and keyboard). Optional bits would be a set of 2.1 or 2.0 powered speakers and a microphone.
Although the switch will properly scale your monitor to the right resolution, it is best if all your systems run the same optimal resolution for your monitor. If you have a 24 inch monitor, you want to run all systems at 1920 x 1200, but if you want to run a 30 inch monitor your video card must also support dual-link DVI and the higher 2560 x 1600 resolution and not all systems support this high of a resolution. For testing, we used a Dell 2405 monitor and ran it at 1920 x 1200 at 60 Hz with all attached systems.
The GSC1204 officially supports Windows, Mac, SUN and LINUX and offers some really impressive keyboard and mouse emulation so that you can use your favorite wired or wireless desktop while maintaining most if not all of the functionality you are used to and we will be testing this thoroughly. Allegedly, it even supports the rather difficult to support Apple Aluminum Keyboards so stay tuned if you’re a Mac Lover. Since we only have PCs running Vista, a MacBook Pro and a PowerPC based Mac Mini we couldn’t do the SUN systems or LINUX test but we’d be happy to report back in the forums should we come across one of these systems.