Review: Kensington ShareCentral 1 USB switch

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Short Version: Kensington’s “ShareCentral 1” provides an easy, hassle-free way to share a USB device between two computers. At $39.99, it’s not too expensive, either.

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Overview and Features:

  • Easy access to one USB device from two computers
  • No drivers to install
  • Three replaceable buttons: printer icon, hard drive icon, and generic icon
  • LED indicator lights
  • Wall-mountable
  • MSRP of $39.99

Pros:

The ShareCentral 1 is great for people who don’t have the time, expertise, or patience to screw around with network sharing for stuff like printers and external hard drives. It’d also serve as a good, quick mobile setup between two computers that need to be able to both access a certain device at various times.

The system works with just about any USB device, too. I tested it with a printer, a hard drive, several USB drives, a few phones, a camera, and an external sound card without running into any trouble. Cable clutter is kept to a minimum since the box doesn’t require external power, despite the AC jack you see in the above photo.

Switching between two computers requires nothing more than a simple press of the button on the top of the box and the actual handoff takes about 2-3 seconds. Finally, the box itself looks nice and can be wall-mounted if you’re feeling ambitious.

Cons:

I ran into some wonkiness when using the ShareCentral 1 on a computer that was already using a standard USB hub. When I’d switch from the other computer, the hub on the first computer would stop working and I’d have to reboot. Thankfully, a quick workaround turned out to be plugging the ShareCentral 1 directly into the USB hub on the first computer instead of plugging it into an open USB port on the computer itself.

Recommendation:

If you work in a two-person office or use two computers regularly yourself and need quick, easy access to a printer or other USB device, the ShareCentral 1 might be right up your alley. Kensington also has the two-device “ShareCentral 2” and the five-device “ShareCentral 5” if you need to share more than one peripheral.

ShareCentral 1 [Kensington]

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