The ATEN folks have come up with a little doodad (CS661 aka the "Laptop USB KVM Switch") that I'm thinking might be a great data center tool. We either already have or want to have IP KVM's in our data centers but once in a while it's just easier (like in a colo) to do some upgrades and mods from your handy dandy laptop. Or you've got a PC under your desk that you only need to run special projects on. Either way, this widget allows the local computer to control the remote through the USB port without needing external power supplies and while sharing a common USB peripheral.
When I first plugged the unit in, nothing happened....well more accurately nothing seemed to be happening. My only indication that it was working was the flashing light on my hard drive. The "autorun" took nearly 8 minutes on a 2.5ghz Core 2 machine before I got any indication that it was happily installing the remote control software. The Thinkpad X41 (Running XP pen tablet edition) was still not doing anything after 10 minutes. Ok so I should have been a bit more patient. When I opened up "My Computer" I found an icon that looked like the unit (see pic below) and just as I started opening it up, the hardware wizard finally finished installing. In the mean time the "local" computer (Dell Opteron 755) splashed a connect message on the screen and popped up a copy of my Thinkpad's screen (The Thinkpad was connected to the longer cable and was "remote"). I would lay odds that my McAfee anti virus software had a great deal to do with how long it all took to install.
"Laptop USB KVM Switch" from ATEN Technology and has an MSRP of $99.00
Though not shown in this pic....when it's connecting to the "local" and "remote" machines, there will be a pair of bright blue LED's on the window just above the "ATEN" logo. When a connection is made and data (screen or files) are moving those LEDs flash like crazy.
Hmmm....VERY difficult to see in this picture, but the left coil of wire is longer (about 1.8 meters) and the right is about half as long (.9 meters). The longer side is the "remote" connection and the shorter side is the "local" connection. The USB port on the right side is for a shared USB peripheral of some sort....
Now while this unit is Windows only (XP or Vista) their PR agent is saying that a Mac version will be out someday. Now if I could mix my Mac as the local and an XP as the remote I would be in hog heaven. I would see using this in a data center to reconfigure my servers during IP address changes or when remote desktop isn't practical. Though I should point out that this isn't like the full size KVM's like those put out by Avocent or Raritan in that this MUST have an operating system involved. However, it's a small enough (and cheap enough) that I'll be carrying it instead of a USB transfer cable as part of my traveling toolkit.