Share USB devices including keyboard, mouse, drives, printers, and USB audio between two computers for ease of use and simple switching from one to the other.
- Ease of Use, Performance: 22/25
- Look &Feel: 23/25
- Features 24/25, How much I enjoy 23/25
- Total: 92/100
The Kensington ShareCentral 5 is the great way to switch your USB devices from one computer to another and share them between the two. In either a work or home environment using two computers is sometimes a must and being able to share devices like printers and hard drives is great but you can even use the same keyboard and mouse combination using the ShareCentral.
The ShareCentral 5 is the great and very easy way to share USB devices that works so well from starting up your computer to easily switching from one to the other. The ShareCentral 5 comes with the switch box, an orange and another white USB cable to connect the two computers to the switch box, power adapter, instructions, CD with drivers, wall mount template, extra switch plates and a cable manager.
The switch box is very simple to use with its removable switch plates so you can customize the box and the switches according to your likes. The switch plates or buttons have a design representing common computer devices on four plates; printer, hard drive, scanner, and mouse/keyboard and three numbered plates. The plates hold onto the switches by a small magnet and tip up when you press on either end so you can grab the end and remove them to replace with another.
Installing the system on either a MAC or Windows PC is as simple as connecting the cables and installing the drivers that you download from the Kensington website, the most current version. I tried using the previous version from the CD and was having some small problems but have had no problems at all with the most current ones from the website.
The orange and white ended cables are for the computers and keeping things straight is easy, on each side of the ShareCentral are a row of lights that indicate which computer has control of the USB device. When the light is on the side toward all the cable connections the white connection has the devices and when the blank side has the lights the orange connection has them.
There is a part of the lights leading to each connection that goes to the computer that is connected to that connection to help you keep things straight when first using the ShareCentral but it is really simple once you use it. I also found that when you first turn a computer on regardless if another computer is on or off the ShareCentral will switch all the devices over to that computer.
You can control each device separately and the one connection has two USB connections for that device so you can have two devices controlled by one switch such as a mouse and keyboard or printer and scanner on the same switch. The other three connections are single USB slots so you have up to 5 devices being able to be controlled using the ShareCentral 5.
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The ShareCentral also automatically switches printers over to which ever computer is trying to send print jobs to it using Windows File and Printer Sharing. This automatic printer sharing is a feature of Windows so is available on Windows computers only and can be turned on and off using the switch on the bottom of the ShareCentral.
Devices being controlled between the two computers will need drivers for each device on each computer so you have to install them at some time. When you switch back and forth it is using a plug and play type connection so the computer will take a few seconds to recognize the new device and it should be ready for use without any further action.
The ShareCentral works very well for all the devices I tried, printers, scanner, hard drives, mouse and keyboards both separately and as a combined unit like the Logitech MX 5500 wireless mouse and keyboard. Using your mouse and keyboard between the two computers works well for situations just like mine where I use one computer as a work computer and the other for playing games and as my test setup.
I even tried out some audio solutions like a pair of USB headphones and had no problem switching back and forth with them as a regular USB device between the two computers. The switching takes a second or two and does work unless the device you are trying to switch is currently powered down. If your USB device such as a drive or printer is not on it will not switch so it is a good reminder to turn on the devices if they don't seem to want to switch for you.
When using the ShareCentral I found that the setup kept cables at a minimum and you did not have to stretch things between the two computers as you could just centrally locate the ShareCentral between the two. I also set the ShareCentral so the switching lights pointed in the direction of the computer screen that was corresponding to that side. This kept things handy and easy to tell which computer had what device currently associated with it.
The ShareCentral can also be mounted using the included template and the screw holes on the bottom of the switch box for mounting the device on a wall or cubicle side. You can also use the little rubber cable manager if you want that attaches to the top or bottom to help hold cables.
The ShareCentral 5 USB switching works so easily and well that it really does help when you are trying to manage and handle more than one computer system with devices between the two. Printers and hard drives are especially nice with the ShareCentral so you don't have to network them and have all the hassles of dealing with a shared network if you don't want to.
I even had no problems with a more complex device in a TV Tuner from Plextor and switching between the two computers but had no problems. I wanted to check out something a little more on the unusual side and had no problems watching TV on either system using the ShareCentral to switch from one to the next.
The devices you switch and the system you are using will have something to do with the switching time and how quickly the devices are switched. I found that devices like mice and keyboards switch rather quickly but it may take a few seconds for devices like printers and scanners or like the TV tuner to switch.
I also found that using things that your computer sees as plug and play like mice and keyboards are recognized by the two computers I was using pretty quickly. Things like the TV tuner that I had already installed on both systems were recognized quickly and installed the first time I used them with the ShareCentral 5 but after that they simply connected without the installer coming up at all.
The Kensington ShareCentral 5 works very well and I had no problems with any of the USB devices I used with it, they all switch over just fine from one computer to the other in just a few seconds. I used a hard drive, CD/DVD drive, printer, scanner, mouse and keyboard, USB Headphones and even a TV tuner without any problems.
The ShareCentral 5 worked very well and you can also purchase a 2 port version from Kensington if you only have a few USB devices you want to share between two computers.
I highly recommend the Kensington ShareCentral 5 as an effortless way to share USB devices between two computers.
Bestselling Kensington ShareCentral 5 Product in 2020
Kensington ShareCentral 5 for USB Device Sharing (K33901US)
- Easily share access to USB devices between two computersâ¿¿LED lights indicate which computer has access
- Gain instant access to your USB devices by plugging one USB cable into your computer
- Simply press a button to switch individual USB devices from one computer to another
- Both computers have direct access to the printer thanks to Automatic Printer Sharing
- Plug and play set up and easy to use with no network required